Thank you all for your feedback, attention, and support as we continue to navigate this challenging time. What follows are two critical updates: the first details the AAUP-UC discussions with UC Administration about compensation in the context of projected budget issues due to COVID-19, and the second focuses on the future work of the Joint AAUP/Faculty Senate Budget Task Force. You can also watch a recording of the July 29th Town Hall on our webpage for more information about these topics if you were unable to attend.
We are grateful to everyone who took the time to complete the survey we sent out a few weeks ago. The responses provided important guidance to the Executive Council. Perhaps unsurprisingly, results indicated that Faculty have already put in a tremendous amount of extra time and energy converting Spring Semester classes and preparing for an uncertain Fall Semester. For example, 85% of faculty reported spending additional time over Spring Break preparing for remote learning, with the modal response being more than 30 hours of extra time. Faculty were also clear that, while they were reluctant to consider cuts to compensation or healthcare, they were willing to explore the option of extending the benefits of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) for another year.
The final Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Administration and AAUP-UC will call for a 20% reduction in Faculty Development funds for FY 2020-2021 and will offer Faculty the option to take voluntary furlough days between August 2020 and April 2021.
What follows is a recap of the proposal/counterproposal process.
- The Administration initially proposed 5 mandatory furlough days, an elimination of FY 2020-21 salary increases, and a one-year extension of the CBA. Furlough days would have been based on a work year of 146 days for 9-month Faculty and 209 days for 12-month Faculty. Compensation cuts would have been permanent and would not have been made up with increases in future years. For example, this would have cost an Assistant Professor making $60,000 more than $80,000 over the course of their career at UC.
- In response to this initial proposal, AAUP-UC countered with a temporary one-year delay in the FY 2020-21 salary increase, where the increase would have been added back into a faculty member’s salary in the later years of the contract. This proposal would have comported with the cuts taken by UC’s upper administrators, which are temporary. It also would have produced a one-time savings for UC of over $7 million. Ultimately, however, the Administration decided that it was not in a position to extend the CBA for one year because of economic uncertainties. In short, the Administration turned down AAUP-UC’s proposal and the $7 million in savings it would have produced.
- AAUP-UC also proposed labor-management committees to study and report on the UC budget, as well as the competitiveness of UC Faculty salaries. These proposals were rejected without counteroffers.
- The Administration then proposed a voluntary furlough plan, which AAUP-UC was willing to accept after some modifications. While some individual faculty members have expressed an interest in participating in a voluntary furlough program, many faculty members—including those who have attended the Town Halls this summer—are skeptical of furloughs generally. A voluntary furlough program importantly leaves the decision to individual UC faculty members about whether to participate. Faculty who are interested in participating in the voluntary furlough program should contact the AAUP-UC office to obtain a form that delineates the procedure and their rights. This process is designed to ensure that the faculty member’s decision is informed and free of undue pressure.
- The Administration initially proposed the elimination of most Faculty Development Funds for FY 2020-2021. Based on the survey results, however, this proposal was not practical: Faculty still expect to have a considerable need for funding, and many will be adapting their professional development activities to fit the current crisis. Ultimately, an agreement was reached to allow a 20% reduction of most Faculty Development funds. The 20% reduction, along with any unspent funds will be returned to the colleges to alleviate the fiscal crisis.
Meanwhile, the joint AAUP-UC/Faculty Senate Budget Task Force continues to do its important work and will be releasing a comprehensive report later this summer. The AAUP-UC remains concerned about the nature of permanent cuts to college operating budgets. A recurrent theme raised by Faculty at the July 29th Town Hall noted that UC’s Administration has not provided clear answers as to why they are proposing permanent budget cuts to solve a temporary budget crisis. Earlier this month, Ohio announced that cuts to the State Share of Instruction (SSI) would be far less severe than what the UC Administration had projected. UC’s response was to eliminate the use of any of its reserve funds to deal with the pandemic. This is not the response one would expect of an institution in a financial crisis. The short- and long-term impacts of these permanent cuts are of concern to many Faculty and will have adverse effects for the core mission of the University. Permanent solutions are still necessary to re-focus UC on its core academic mission of teaching and research.
As we move forward, the proposed changes to Faculty Development funding and the option of voluntary furloughs will be incorporated in an MOU. Because we avoided reopening the contract, this action will not require a vote of the membership. The AAUP-UC team wishes to thank the Administration for their professionalism and cordiality during these discussions. We hope to continue to work with UC Administrators in good faith as we move forward together in partnership to keep UC’s academic mission robust and healthy.
Overall, these discussions resulted in a very positive outcome. Many other Ohio Faculties had furloughs and reductions forced upon them. We are fortunate that we have a strong Collective Bargaining Agreement as a foundation for these discussions.
And finally, thank you to our membership for your support. We have received many, many new memberships over the last few months, which not only makes our Chapter stronger but also better positioned going into negotiations in 2022. Remember that only members can vote on the Contract or changes made to the Contract. If you are not yet a member, please visit the AAUP-UC website or email the office for a membership form.
Connie Kendall Theado