The two sides met twice last week on Tuesday and Thursday.
Insurance summary: The administration has not responded sufficiently to our numerous information requests regarding impacts of the proposed new insurance plan, including doctor and prescription interruptions.
Retirement summary: The administration is pressing to decrease retirement contributions regardless of our previously negotiated agreement, but we emphasize that we have not yet received the benefit of our last bargain.
Course cap summary: The administration is proposing a process to unilaterally impose increased course enrollments in annual 10% increments should the Curriculum Committee and faculty decide against increasing the cap (based on curricular and academic needs). We are willing to discuss implementing a process to re-evaluate course caps, including considering the process suggested by the administration, with the exception of allowing course enrollment increases to be imposed.
VSIP summary: We reiterated our proposed voluntary separation incentive program (VSIP) originally sent in April and proposed it be tied with a full-time faculty-to-adjunct ratio of 70% and a first right of refusal for coursework. Brian Pedrow, lead negotiator and counsel for the Administration, called this ratio a “non-starter” for the Administration. The Administration is not willing to even discuss a ratio or teaching assignments.
Our asks: Email us (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any additional questions for our PAISBOA and IBX meeting THIS THURSDAY. Use the employee out of pocket cost calculator and SUBMIT your calculation. Responses are anonymous.
Tuesday, August 3
The administration wanted to discuss health insurance so we reiterated our information requests and elaborated on what we need to further our understanding of how the proposed changes will impact our members. We questioned what help the administration had received to arrive at the decision to go with PAISBOA: has the administration engaged a consultant or a broker to seek assistance with finding better plans? They have not looked into any other options. Although we have requested a disruption report, what has been provided is not specific to our members or even to the larger campus group. So far, the information provided pertains to 33,000 or so physicians and does not reflect the actual impact to our bargaining unit members. They have not done a disruption report and had not intended to do analysis of cost increases or disruptions for medications, copays or providers. We need to understand how much this is going to cost our members. We requested this analysis. Jennifer Brennan (Director of HR) will look into a disruption report for both medical and prescription benefits for our bargaining unit members.
There are possible differences in the formulary that may impact members; the administration is not proposing any grandfathering, meaning that some members may not be able to continue on their current medications, or may have cost changes. We questioned whether medications are included in the IBX deductible. While the administration asserts this is the case, it is not part of the current contract with IBX: written affirmation is needed to ensure that the plan will count covered prescription drug costs toward the deductible. All drug approvals and step therapy plans must be restarted with a new insurance plan. Therefore, some faculty may experience a disruption in continuity of care. We requested a follow-up meeting with the PAISBOA rep, to include an IBX rep, to answer remaining questions. Please email us (email@example.com) any follow-up questions you have after viewing the recent PAISBOA Q&A video. Also, please use the anonymous out-of-pocket cost calculator and submit your results to our survey.
Next, we discussed the 403B contributions. These contributions will be “snapping back” to the match at 2:1 for up to 5% of salary contributions. We bargained for this and gave up the immediate benefit to the University ($600,000). We haven’t seen our benefit of the bargain. Even though we have not received our bargained benefit, the University is proposing undoing this to restart bargaining about retirement contributions. We asked whether the University is open to making us “whole” through lost contributions and interest for the past year. The University is pressing to decrease the retirement contributions regardless of our previously negotiated agreement, but we emphasized that we have not yet received the benefit of our last bargain.
Thursday August 5
The administration proposed a method to revisit course caps for previously approved courses. In prior discussion, the idea of tasking the Curriculum Committee with evaluating requested course cap changes was presented. Ben Rusiloski, the interim University President, presented the administration proposal modeled on our current Curriculum Committee procedures. The process outlined by the first 6 steps of the proposal can be initiated by either a Department or the Administration (via a Dean): the process requires filling out a form with an explanation for the change, which is then submitted to the Curriculum Committee for review. Approval by the Committee would be subject to the usual 10-day review by faculty. The seventh step as proposed by the Administration would allow the Administration to unilaterally impose increased course enrollments in annual 10% increments should the Curriculum Committee and faculty decide against increasing the cap (based on curricular and academic needs). We were amenable to agreeing to the first six steps of the proposal, without allowing for unilateral course cap increases resulting from the Administration’s overturning the decision of the Curriculum Committee.
Next, we discussed our counteroffer to the VSIP proposed by the Administration in the spring term. Our counter was previously dismissed by the Administration. Our initial tenure buy-out proposal has already been rejected by the Administration and we expressed willingness to consider our more recent counterproposal in lieu of our original tenure buy-out plan. Because we are concerned that a voluntary separation program would result in full-time faculty being replaced by adjunct faculty, with fewer protections and more tenuous employment, we requested that any voluntary separation agreement be considered in concert with a full-time faculty-to-adjunct ratio of 70% (this is our current ratio when overload is included in the calculation). Brian Pedrow, lead negotiator and counsel for the Administration, called this ratio a “non-starter” for the Administration. The Administration is not willing to even discuss a ratio or teaching assignments. We have also requested a right of first refusal for teaching courses that would be taught by adjuncts. We have expressed our concern that our graduate programs do not have sufficient faculty oversight and connection to our undergraduate programs as well as full-time faculty. This is an issue that accrediting bodies have also brought up during reviews. The Administration is seeking to further separate our graduate and undergraduate programs.
On Thursday, August 12, we will meet with PAISBOA and IBX representatives. That meeting will be followed by our next bargaining session.