On February 2, negotiations over the 2016-2019 Collective Bargaining Agreement commenced. Thus far, the parties have met ten times and have exchanged proposals on twenty Articles in the contract, making for an unusually busy round of bargaining. Looking ahead, we anticipate maintaining a heavy bargaining schedule, which speaks well to both sides’ willingness to work hard to reach an agreement on a new contract before the end of the current contract on June 30th.
The parties agreed to Ground Rules on February 11, and since then, we have reached tentative agreements (TAs) on eight Articles, including:
- Article 8 (Grievance Procedure)—While most of the changes are relatively minor, the TA does provide needed clarifications regarding the grievance panel hearing process, including how witnesses are called and questioned.
- Article 9 (Disciplinary Procedures)—The most significant change to Article 9 in the TA is that it now would allow for direct and cross-examination by the parties in cases where the Administration has proposed a suspension without pay (currently, this is permitted only with proposals of dismissal; the panels conduct the questioning in all other cases). The TA also removes the never-utilized “suspension with pay” from the list of possible disciplines that the Administration can propose.
- Article 11 (Tuition Remission)—The only change of substance in the TA is a small increase in the per credit hour fee for dependents who are out-of-state and who do not live in localities which are otherwise covered by reciprocity agreements.
- Article 15 (Additional Compensation)—The TA would add “retention efforts” to the list of bases for a salary adjustment.
- Article 31 (Academic Unit Heads)—The TA clarifies the procedure by which Academic Unit Heads are selected and evaluated.
- Article 32 (Arbitration) —The TA provides for a deadline for grievance arbitration hearings (90 days for regular hearings, 45 days for expedited hearings).
- Article 33 (Annual Performance Review of Faculty)—The TA clarifies the procedure for Performance Improvement Plans (PIPs), and moves language regarding the initial 3-month meeting with new faculty to Article 24 (Faculty Development).
- Article 40 (Dispute Settlement Procedure)—The TA’d changes are of a housekeeping nature, bringing the language regarding the use of fact-finders in line with current practices.
As for the non-economic Articles which remain under discussion:
The UC Chapter AAUP offered initial proposals on the following:
- Article 7 (Reappointment, Promotion and Tenure)
- Article 25 (Academic Leave)
The Administration offered proposals on the following:Article 1 (Recognition and Description of Bargaining Unit)
- Article 3 (Academic Safeguards and Responsibilities)
- Article 4 (Non-Discrimination)
- Article 6 (Appointments)
- Article 17 (Sick Leave)
- Article 18 (Retirement Procedure and Programs)
- Article 19 (Personal, Child-Rearing, Vacation, Parental and Military Leaves)
We are in the process of finalizing proposals related to compensation (Article 10) and health insurance (Article 16), which we will present this week, along with a proposal on faculty development (Article 24). In addition, we will be introducing proposed new Articles to cover intellectual property over copyrightable works as well as distance learning.
We will keep you informed as bargaining progresses, and provide more information on the status of the financial and health insurance proposals as those discussions develop.
— Stephanie Spanja, J.D.
Director, Contract Administration
AAUP-UC Chief Bargaining, 2016
As of June 16, 20141 state and local government employers must report “their proportionate share of…net pension liability and annual expense in their financial statements.”2 This means that the University of Cincinnati (UC) must now report on pensions such as the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio (STRS Ohio) in its Annual Fund Accounting Schedules. This directive comes from Governmental Accounting Standard Board (GASB) Statement No. 68. GASB is an “independent organization that establishes and improves standards of accounting and financial reporting for U.S. state and local governments….[and] is recognized by governments, the accounting industry, and the capital markets as the official source of generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) for state and local governments.”2
What does this mean? It does not mean a change in how pensions are funded or in the employer contribution rate. A pension’s “unfunded liability is not new, but the requirement for employers to recognize a share of the liability is a new GASB rule.”3 It does not mean a change in UC’s financial rating, which affects the institution’s ability to borrow money. “Ohio Auditor of State Dave Yost said his office will not use this liability when determining fiscal caution, watch or emergency. Financial ratings company Moody’s estimates that 98% of government entities will see virtually no impact on their ratings.”2 This sentiment was echoed by Mark Lasee and Marc Lieberman of Kutak Rock, LLP, a public finance law firm who wrote in Pensions&Investments Online, “[t]he bottom line is that the new GASB reporting standards changes do not affect reality; they merely provide a different means of reporting it. Each plan sponsor is in no better or worse shape than it was in prior to the change in reporting, and the rating agencies not only know this, they have proclaimed it from the highest banner. Thus, we expect that, following the first round of reporting under the new GASB standards for the period ending in June, the credit ratings of most plan sponsors will not be seriously impaired, despite widespread fear otherwise.”4
Thus essentially nothing has changed. It is business as usual. Full understanding of the GASB 68 hopefully provides clarity and calms fears for faculty, administrators, and the Board of Trustees.
— Sarai Hedges
Chair, AAUP-UC Budget & Compensation Advisory Committee
- Five things you need to know about GASB reporting standards. Retrieved from https://www.strsoh.org/employer/_pdfs/GASB/50-329a_GASB.pdf
I was recently at a conference and got a chance to talk to David Hartleb, who served on the first AAUP-UC bargaining team. The contract he helped negotiate was signed on April 14, 1976. He went on to serve as the first AAUP-UC President under the new contract. He said it was the hardest job he ever had.
Forty years later, as I am finishing up four years as AAUP-UC President, I had to ask him what he meant, since he went on to become a Dean and then a college President. His answer was simple: “Everyone expected you to fix everything.” In my years as AAUP President, it’s easy to commiserate. Early on in my experience in faculty union organizing, I came to a curious realization. No one expects their job to be 100% perfect, their home to be 100% perfect, their church to be 100% perfect, let alone their loved ones. College Deans and Presidents are not expected to be perfect—and let’s not even discuss our political leaders.
Indeed, the research on happiness shows that one of the keys to life satisfaction is low expectations. People who have low goals and meet them are happier than those who have high goals and do not meet them, even though those with high goals accomplish more.
The feeling I have often gotten, is that the faculty expect the union to be 100% perfect, and if it’s not, there is something dearly wrong with the universe. There are times over the last four years when I have resented being the subject of high expectations. In such a complicated political position, dealing with such a wide variety of colleges of different missions and work situations, not everyone will be happy with the necessary compromises. When one faculty group is satisfied, almost by definition another faculty group is disgruntled. I knew from the get-go that this would be the first position I had ever held where I truly had to find my toleration level for being disliked.
And of course this can sound like I am just complaining of the higher expectations faculty seemingly have of the AAUP over other things at the University. In the current climate where no one expects problems to be fixed; where the best thing a leader is expected to do is merely not contribute more problems before they move on; where the cynicism (that I indeed hold dear) succeeds at lowering expectations in almost every area of life; the union is still expected to do something about problems. They expect others not to fix things. They still expect us to, and are disappointed when we don’t.
There is no time of expectation greater than bargaining a contract as we are now. Though we have achieved some of the things we have been working toward for years, such as paid parental leave and dramatically increased faculty development funds, we are still behind our peers in salary and overall compensation. I, in fact, work at the lowest paid branch campus in Ohio for my rank.
Both the faculty and the AAUP have high expectations. But I have grown fond of the expectations. It’s no recipe for happiness, but as a lifelong student more than anything else, I never liked a curve.