The S Word


If you have been following bargaining, you know that we are likely headed towards a strike. While we have made progress on many non-economic articles, the administration is steadfast in their refusal to offer raises remotely close to what is necessary to address inflation and maintain parity with our AAU comparators.

A strike cannot happen overnight; there are legally imposed timelines, and a number of additional bargaining sessions required before we get to that point (think mid-Fall at the earliest). There also will not be a strike without a vote of the UA membership. If we strike, this will be our strike; it will require hard work and resolve of all of United Academics to be successful.

We know the thought of a strike may be anxiety-inducing, and there will be regular communication about the status of bargaining over the summer. We will also communicate about actions that you can take in order to convince the administration that a strike is not in their best interest. Of course, if we are indeed on the path toward a strike we will keep you apprised at every step along the way, and we will do nothing without a clear signal from UA members.

As the academic year winds down, please talk to your colleagues about the possibility of a strike next academic year. If you know of any colleagues who are not yet members of United Academics, but express solidarity around necessary salary increases, please encourage them to join our union. If you have any questions, concerns, or just want to know more about bargaining, please reach out. If you would like door signs, t-shirts, or buttons supporting our bargaining team (or expressing your outrage!), reach out—email [email protected].

Recently, we have seen a more activist face of campus, and we have seen that this administration (for whatever reason) requires communal action to recognize the needs of their community members. We have seen amazing solidarity between campus groups this year. We have no doubt that the GTFF, SEIU, and the new UOSW union will be supportive of a fair UA contract. If we can achieve our salary proposal without a strike, we will. However if you, United Academics, decide to strike, it will be a historic event in which we have many allies willing to stand with us.

Workload Policies

Salary isn’t our only concern at the bargaining table. Our workloads are too high and often out of step with our comparators. During the previous round of Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) negotiations two years ago, the administration agreed to the following language on how units should revisit their professional responsibilities policies:

  • Professional Responsibilities (Article 17), such revisions should align unit-level policies with Article 17 and should be modified as necessary to address the University’s goals on diversity, equity, and inclusion with particular focus on course loads of 9 or more. Discussions should include course allocation across terms, preparation time, number of new course development and preparations, number of contact hours, size of classes, teaching load variation, course maximums, and support mechanisms for faculty with heavy teaching loads. Unit faculty-approved policy regarding course loads shall be considered by the administration consistent with Article 4 obligations. (Appendix 1, Agreement 2 of the CBA)

We faculty have approached this process in good faith, thoughtfully addressing the points above as we considered our teaching needs and how best to meet them.

We have started to receive updates on the professional responsibilities policies unit submitted to deans. Unfortunately, it appears that in many cases deans have denied workload adjustments the faculty have proposed in light of the implementation agreement above, including requests for reductions from a nine-course load or dedicated time for professional development for Career instructional faculty. If you have not seen your department’s dean-edited policy, we encourage you to reach out to your unit head to see if it has been returned to your unit.

The next step in the policy revision process is for the deans to “send both their amended policy and the faculty-approved policy to the Office of the Provost for review. The Office of the Provost will have final authority to establish policy for each department or unit.” (Article 4, Section 3 of the CBA)

To be clear, the Office of the Provost still has the opportunity to uphold the wisdom and will of the faculty in policies we have put forth as they review both versions and set the final policies over this summer.

At the bargaining table, the administration has stated that it is preferable to let unit policy development play out at the local level. This is the moment of truth. Will the Office of the Provost respect the bottom-up process we agreed to in good faith at the bargaining table two years ago? Will they override the budget-motivated denials of deans in favor of the discipline- and pedagogy-informed policies carefully crafted at the local level?

If not, then it will be clear that a top-down, CBA-driven approach at the bargaining table is the only viable option for addressing our needs regarding our working conditions. Any further intransigence from the administration on workload, much like our salary proposal, will do nothing but accelerate a possible job action.

So, whether you are instructional or 12-month faculty, rest up over the summer. Keep an eye out for bargaining updates (we work all 12 months) and potential actions, and reach out with any questions, comments, or concerns, but make sure to come to the next bargaining session on June 13th in Chiles 125 from 12:30 to 3:30 to support your bargaining team in our fight for a fair contract.