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Negotiation Update Feb. 9, 2022

Since the beginning of the semester, the two sides met Jan 27 and Feb 8. The chapter has requested additional dates for negotiating prior to spring break, noting that after spring break advising and other demands will make finding times even more challenging. The chapter seeks to have a CBA in place prior to commencement, but the administration seems to be moving slowly to delay continuing discussions to the summer months. Among other things, this would have the effect of delaying for another year any pay increase/raises until at least the next academic year.

Retirement: The Administration would like to change the retirement plan and is working with a consultant. They would like to present the changes at an upcoming negotiation. We exclusively discussed retirement on February 8th, and the administration has proposed another session solely about retirement, by way of meeting with the consultant. The administration is seeking more control over retirement contributions and is expecting to save money in fees by switching plan administrators. At the negotiating session, the Administration could not state how much money (if any) having control of retirement would save the University nor did they say that there was a plan that was being considered. Administration also stated that it could take years to move any funds from our current plan (TIAA/CREF) into the new one. Administration is moving all non-faculty to the new plan. Administration was unclear if (any) faculty stay in TIAA, if faculty would have to pay increased costs to the provider.

Workload: Administration is still seeking to increase workload with a mandatory 15 contact hours for future new hires. We would like to begin including advising in the calculation of release time and the administration has agreed to discuss caps on number of advisees. The union remains opposed to an increase in workload for any faculty, as we are already above the normal teaching load for faculty at 4 year colleges, and well above the average for Universities.

Economics: The Administration continues to push back on honoring the negotiated increase in matching to the retirement plans that was proposed in exchange for faculty sacrifices last year. Since we have yet to see the benefit of that negotiation, we remain far apart in these proposals. Faculty who lost contributions last year will find it harder and harder to plan for retirement with current inflation rates. In addition to decreasing contributions for all faculty, the administration seeks to contribute even less for future new hires. Despite the fact that all proposals on the table from both sides are now less than the inflation rate and despite the significant increase in health care costs, the administration is not moving significantly on raises.

Training: We have agreed to include 6 hours of mandatory training per year. Currently no training is mandated so this is an increase in required training hours at the discretion of administration.

Healthcare: We are waiting for the President to respond to the grievance we have submitted. Faculty are currently experiencing increased prescription prices and other healthcare costs. The Administration has agreed to the current healthcare plans (the “temporary” plans) for the duration of the CBA but we remain far apart on reimbursement for additional costs in the form of HSAs or HRAs. Additionally, premium cost sharing percentages remain far apart, as despite the poor relative quality of the plans, the administration would like to keep faculty out of pocket cost for premiums close to what they were before, keeping the cost savings for the University.

September 6 Bargaining Update

The two sides met again on Sept 1. 

VSIP:  We are close to a tentative agreement on a Voluntary Separation Incentive Plan.   The administration agreed to change the date for calculating years of service to better reflect years at DelVal and they agreed to extend health insurance benefits for both tenured and nontenured faculty.   The administration has also come around to improving the offered percentages for nontenured faculty.

Workload:  The sides are still far apart, with administration still discounting the work of faculty in hands-on labs and practicums. 

Economics:  While the administration decoupled raises from easily manipulated balance sheets, they continue to decline to honor the negotiated increase in matching to the retirement plans that was proposed in exchange for faculty sacrifices last year.   Since we have yet to see the benefit of that negotiation, we remain far apart in these proposals. 

Training: We presented a counter proposal to the administration’s training proposal.   Our counter limited the required training to three hours per semester.  Currently no training is mandated so this would be an increase in required training hours at the discretion of administration. 

We proposed additional times to meet in the upcoming weeks, but expect finding times without conflicts to be more challenging now that the union team is back in the classroom.   Additionally, there are several holidays creating conflicts this month.  We are waiting to hear back from administration on our proposed dates.

August 23 Bargaining Update

The latest meeting between the Administration and Union teams took place on Thursday, August 20.

Shared Governance: We pressed for a joint statement on shared governance to be added to the CBA. The administration was not interested in formulating a shared governance statement and flatly refused to discuss any statement on the idea of shared governance.

Class Caps: We presented a counter to their proposed step 7 (unilateral discretionary 10% increase in class size per year, cumulative). Our counter proposal included compensation to faculty teaching classes that are over-subscribed, and a reset to the original class size at the end of the academic year, preventing cumulative increases.

VSIP: We presented a counter proposal to the university VSIP proposal and discussed how years of service would be calculated. The administration is considering the proposal and will respond next week.

Work Load: The administration is firm that they want to increase work load by 3 contact hours for all faculty. They rejected our counter proposal to make that optional and compensated by a salary increase. They have declined to provide a counter proposal other than their position of faculty must increase workload for no additional pay.

Economics: The administration has tied any possible pay increase (max 1%, but could be zero) to the net assets of the University, but do not plan to share the documents needed to assess this offer with the union team.

Our asks: wear your AAUP face mask to university functions, including welcome weekend and the town hall next Wednesday. Please attend our full faculty union meeting next Tuesday at 4:30pm. Get involved with our team: email AAUP organizer Ellen Kress ekress@aaup.org.

This negotiation session was attended by Brady Roberts, a mediator from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. He was there to observe, and did not participate in the discussion.

We began a discussion of library and endowed professor contract language. These faculty have 12-month contracts, in contrast with the majority of faculty and therefore also have paid sick and vacation leave. We requested information on this so that we can continue to formulate our proposal on evaluation and rank criteria for these faculty. We shared that the Director of the Library has provided some points to help with the development of the proposal. Staff level and longevity determine the amount of vacation and sick time each librarian / endowed faculty member is entitled to use.

We presented our counter to the class cap process proposed by the administration that culminated in a step that allowed unilateral class size increase by up to 10% each year (cumulative year to year, so a class of 35 can grow to 52 in 4 years and a class of 75 would be able to go to 110 in the same time frame and a lab of 20 would be able to grow to 29). Our cap reevaluation proposal adopted the administration’s proposal for steps 1-6 but then revised step 7 to reset the cap at the end of every academic year to the original cap, and also compensated the faculty member that is teaching the larger class size with release time up to 2 hours for an increase that approached but did not exceed 10%. This compensation component was added because the administration made clear that the cap increases would be financially motivated, not grounded in good academic practice.

We requested a joint aaup chapter – administration committee on health care costs. Mr. Pedrow responded that they would like to be changing health care plans frequently and flexibly. They have not rescinded their position that they should be able to change health care benefits, a mandatory bargaining item, without bargaining.

We proposed developing a joint statement on shared governance and shared with the administration the perspective of accrediting bodies that look for statements and other evidence of shared governance on campus. Shared governance, and faculty ownership/input to curricular development and other academic decisions, are important to accrediting bodies. In lieu of shared governance, the administration has asked for faculty participation in the preparation of Middle States report documents.

We have pushed back hard on any increase in workload. Our most recent proposal, where faculty would be compensated for the 25% increase in workload with a 20% increase in pay, was rejected with no counter proposal by administration. Mr Pedrow said that “no” is a sufficient response in this case and they have no intention of moving from their position of mandatory increase in workload by 3 contact hours for all faculty. Any increased compensation for faculty was deemed “too costly”, but they did not provide any counter proposal. Faculty who currently work the same amount of overload – 3 contact hours – do so to earn a living wage by increasing their salary by $4800 for those 3 contact hours if done for both semesters each year. The administration has proposed “maybe” increasing salary by less than the current overload rate for ONE contact hour, in exchange for an increase of 6 contact hours per year. Our faculty are already at the high end of the typical work load for university faculty, where workloads are often less than half of our current teaching load. Faculty have expressed how this change in workload will impact their ability to serve students and the university in the various other roles currently filled by faculty, including student research and other types of student mentoring.

While the administration is open to discussing remote office hours in perpetuity, this is currently a low priority due to the necessity of remote student meetings during the pandemic. Both sides agreed to table this conversation until the next contract renewal.

We proposed a right of first refusal for full time faculty when courses will be offered to adjuncts. They have rejected the right of first refusal and want to be able to hire adjuncts even when current full-time faculty have the expertise and desire to teach courses. This is especially prevalent in graduate courses, and has created a void where faculty input is needed in graduate program development.

We proposed adding adjunct faculty to the calculation of department chair release time. Adjunct faculty should not be valued less or not at all in this calculation, as mentoring adjunct faculty and managing course requirements when faculty are not full time is as much or more work than managing full time faculty.

We requested that open tenure lines be filled. Several have been open for many years.

We discussed the counter proposals on the Voluntary Separation Incentive Plans that have been proposed. While some progress has been made in the areas of health care and tuition exchange extensions, the percentage payout severance benefits are still far apart. Additionally, further clarification of the calculation of years served is needed. The administration has proposed making the calculation in February, which would underestimate the years served by faculty applying for the VSIP.

The administration proposed new language for required training that identifies four categories: Title IX, harassment, cybersecurity and diversity, but was unwilling to cap the amount of time required for training. Despite assurances that training modules would be limited to a half hour of remote work on any one topic, they are unwilling to commit to this in the proposal.

The administration is unwilling to decouple faculty raises from the economic performance reports of the university, which are controlled unilaterally by administration. If desired, administration can report numbers which preempt raises for faculty. For this reason, we have continued to request detailed information on net profit/expenditures in order to evaluate this proposal.

Our next scheduled bargaining session is Thursday, August 26. We have a full membership meeting scheduled for Tuesday at 4:30pm. Please plan to attend. If you are able to attend the financial town hall next Wednesday, please wear your AAUP mask.