Joining the AAUP says that you’re concerned about academic freedom, and about the way that basic freedom protects your teaching and research. It says that participating in faculty governance is important to you, and that you are concerned about career issues, tenure, and the overuse of contingent faculty. By joining, faculty members, academic professionals, and graduate students help to shape the future of our profession and proclaim their dedication to the education community. To join, please visit the national AAUP membership page.
What Does OU-AAUP Stand For?
Real shared governance: While the term has been used at OU for years, the reality has been the opposite. The OU administration has consistently followed a top-down model in which policy is handed down to the Faculty Senate. Under collective bargaining, our goal is to ensure faculty a voice in decision-making on vital issues such as University priorities, salary and merit pay policy, health benefits, workload, and staffing and personnel issues. We do not seek to deprive our administrators of the important roles we need them to play. Nor do we think collective bargaining would displace the Faculty Senate. We want a stronger Senate as well as the opportunity to negotiate contracts that affect our lives directly.
A fair, transparent, and inclusive budget process: What are the University’s priorities, and what voice do faculty have in shaping them? We’ve seen inordinate growth of administration and excessive concentration of resources in intercollegiate athletics. Isn’t it time we had people at a bargaining table looking out for faculty, their families and their careers? In negotiating contracts, representatives can demand that the overall budget be examined. “Opening the books” for negotiators to understand and then explain to those who will vote on contractual agreements is something that a collective bargaining agency can and will do.
Salary parity with our Ohio peers: Our salary situation has declined at all ranks in the last couple of years, with no raise in FY 09-10, and 1% across the board + a small amount of merit for FY 10-11. Collective bargaining campuses have fared much better, even in the identical fiscal climate, with Cincinnati faculty getting 3% + 1.5% merit in 09-10, Kent State faculty getting 3% + their “success pool” in 09-10, and Wright State faculty getting 2.5% + 1% merit + 1.5% equity. There has been no sustained effort to give cost of living increments, or to address salary compression, gender equity, or leapfrogging of salaries. Salary lost now is never regained, and its effect compounds and continues into retirement. The benefit of our guaranteed involvement in salary policy is not limited to just one year, but would be felt cumulatively over many years. We would always be at the table, balancing fiscal issues, faculty interests, and the overall benefit to the university.
Fair and rule-based merit pay mechanisms: This is symptomatic of both salary problems AND lack of shared governance. The policy recently used to establish a merit raise pool was mandated by the Provost with no input from the faculty. It ignored the fact that all academic units already have formally adopted policies for distributing merit raises as mandated by our Faculty Handbook (Section II.E.1 “Annually, departmental chairpersons shall evaluate all members of their faculty with regard to salary. Each chairperson shall employ a departmental committee or committees in the evaluation process, which shall conform to the department’s established written procedures. This evaluation process must result in recommendations with respect to salary increases for all faculty.”. The Provost simply ignored this fact, and the Handbook, and created a new policy after consultation with the deans only. This shows a complete lack of concern for shared governance and for criterion-based decisions. Faculty were never allowed to discuss the wisdom or efficacy of this new policy. Other larger salary issues, including equity, compression and leapfrogging have been studiously avoided.
Preservation of health benefits: These too have been constantly eroding over the past several years. And now, the administration even wants to renege on the agreement made with the Faculty Senate years ago to keep employee contributions to the health care fund at 10% of the total or less. Combined with our meager salary increases over the last two years, faculty and their families are losing significant ground in total compensation. This amounts to a net losses of income, and an erosion of financial security for OU faculty. Ask any faculty to compare their monthly paycheck this year to one from last year. Most will see a significant drop even though their pay increased slightly – that’s predominantly explained by health care costs. We need to gain the right to negotiate our health care benefits, rather than simply accept whatever loss of benefits, and increase in cost to employees, the administration happens to decide upon.
Reasonable workload policy: Teaching loads will likely increase with the switch to a semester calendar, but the deans and the Provost refuse to discuss the issue with faculty. The current budget cutting exercise seems to be producing proposals to eliminate Group II and Group IV faculty positions. But given the teaching load of these non-tenure track faculty, this only mean further increases in Group I teaching loads. There must be a better way to manage workloads. In the College of Arts and Sciences, faculty are being told that they need to negotiate down from a 4-4 course load. The fact that this is the starting line should send a shockwave to all faculty about their future at OU. Other institutions with collective bargaining – especially Wright State – have insisted that all work will be stopped until there is an agreement on work load as they transition to semesters. We need that sort of representation as we make our own transition.