Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Back to the Table

This appeared in the latest issue of the Fredonia UUP Chapter's newsletter, FredUUP! It's an update from me, the chapter Officer for Contingents.

As you may know, negotiations between Fredonia chapter leadership and management on the Handbook on Appointment, Reappointment, and Promotion (HARP) concluded in August. Both sides agreed that Article IV.E, on review of contingent faculty, would be suspended until negotiations could restart during the academic year and agreement could be reached on revisions to Article IV in its entirety.

The chapter leadership has been preparing for this restart of negotiations in the following ways:
  • Ziya Arnavut, chapter President and a member of the HARP negotiating team, held a membership meeting on contingent employment issues on October 3, added me to the team, invited members of Fredonia’s full-time contingent faculty to consider volunteering to represent that constituency on the team, and began forming working groups on issues specific to smaller groups of contingent faculty, such as those in the School of Music and College of Education;
  • Cynthia Smith, Vice President for Academics and also a member of the negotiating team, developed and distributed a survey on Article IV—there’s still time to complete it!
  • I’ve been working with the Contingent Employment Advisory Group (John Arnold, Angelica Astry, Derrik Decker [who’s also a member of the HARP negotiating team], Jeanette Ellian, Anne Fearman, Leonard Jacuzzo, Susan McGee, Tiffany Nicely, Vince Quatroche, and Rebecca Schwab) to turn our demands from last academic year into HARP revision and addition proposals. While attending a statewide Contingent Employment Committee retreat in Albany at the end of semester, I was also able to consult with committee members and statewide Vice President for Academics Jamie Dangler, UUP’s lead negotiator for the new contract.
Through these and other means, the chapter leadership is attempting to be as transparent and inclusive and deliberative as we can be before negotiations officially restart. To that end, I would like to share some of the widely-shared, reasonable, and implementable goals may well guide negotiating team activities this academic year:
  • developing a comprehensive system of ranks/titles that creates advancement opportunities/paths for all contingent faculty at Fredonia (along with policies and procedures for application and review);
  • improving compensation by establishing a university-wide minimum per-credit-hour rate for current and future part-time contingent faculty at Fredonia, by tying promotion to increases in salary or compensation rate, and by tying service to increases in salary or compensation rate for those who want to do it;
  • reducing precariousness and improving predictability by developing a system for increasing lengths of contracts and for incorporating seniority into reappointment procedures;
  • streamlining and specifying review procedures so that they become more useful to contingent faculty and academic departments.
Of course, there are no guarantees in negotiations, it takes two to tango, and we can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good or even just the better. But making progress on any of these goals would materially improve terms and conditions for contingent faculty at Fredonia. Please help us by emailing me your stories and suggestions and/or by filling out our survey.