November 20, 2018

AAUP Update: Newsletter, April 2015

(download in PDF)

April 2015 Newsletter

Update from Harry N. Zarin, G Counseling, Chapter President

Contract/Negotiations:

At our spring meeting in January, we updated those in attendance on the progress we were making in negotiations. Shortly after that meeting, we posted a summary of the tentative agreements that were reached in the Chapter Documents section of the Chapter website, and on February 13th, we conducted our first ever electronic vote on the agreements. By an overwhelming majority, the agreement was ratified by the membership. I am pleased to report that on the evening of March 23rd the Board of Trustees voted to ratify the agreement. We are very thankful to the Board of Trustees, Dr. Pollard, the members of Management’s Negotiating Team, Dr. Janet Wormack, and Dr. Sanjay Rai for their support and efforts towards bring this year’s negotiations to a successful conclusion.

We believe we made some very important progress with these agreements that will benefit our membership. We successfully negotiated a 9-year contract, which included increases in salary for the next three years, increases in EAP for the next three years, and additional pay for days worked over 195 in any academic year. Additional protection was negotiated with the inclusion of final and binding arbitration for grievances, which also includes discipline and discharge situations.

Please refer to the Executive Summary of the tentative agreements in the Chapter Documents for additional information on these and other important agreements that were reached. Also, for your reading pleasure, the entire new Collective Bargaining Agreement has been posted in the above-mentioned section of the Chapter website.

We all owe our Negotiating Team and Executive Committee a tremendous debt of thanks for the numerous hours spent both in committee meetings and at the negotiating table. Also, Rose Sachs, our past President and retired counselor, deserves and big thank you for her time and efforts spent in many meetings as our hired consultant. David Kelly, the Chapter’s attorney, also deserves our thanks for his superb guidance and support throughout this entire process.

Budgetary Issues and Testimony:

The Board of Trustees annually submits a proposed operating budget to the County Executive, and the County Executive then makes a budget recommendation to the full Council and the College. This year, the BOT proposed an operating budget that was approximately $15 million higher than last year’s budget. This included $11.8 million to cover negotiated increases in the costs of employee compensation and benefits and additional funds to cover the costs of several important student success initiatives. The County Executive recommended an increase of only $3 million over last year’s budget, and in his proposal, he asked that the College make up the difference, by among other things, severely increasing our tuition rates. The College is now lobbying members of the County Council and asking them to restore as much as they can to our operating budget so that our negotiated increases in salary and student success programs can be funded.

As the President of our Chapter, I have been asked to represent the faculty at the County Council hearings on Wednesday, April 15th, at 7:00pm in the 3rd floor hearing room at the County Council building. It is very important that as many faculty and employees as possible attend these hearing. We want to pack the house as a way of demonstrating our sincere interest in the college and showing the County Council that we support the mission of the college and the success of our students. Your AAUP Executive Committee would appreciate it if you would mark your calendar and plan on taking some time out of your day to attend these hearings.

In order to assist me in writing my testimony, I am soliciting your assistance. I would like to highlight the accomplishments of some of our faculty and students in my 3-minute testimony. Yes, I said 3-minute testimony; this is all the time each of us are given when we testify in front of the full Council. I would appreciate it if you would send me bulleted highlights of some of your accomplishments from this year and success stories of some of your students. If you wrote a book, published an article, received an award, have been elected to hold office in a professional association, or have been selected to serve on a special committee, please send me a brief e-mail. At the same time I would ask you to send me some student success stories. The Council always enjoys hearing about our students.

Contractual Obligations:

In our December newsletter, I mentioned a few very important contractual obligations that all of you need to be aware of. One of these obligations relates to the amount of ESH you are required to work in an academic year and the amount of ESH you may earn in a given semester or a given academic year. Each faculty member is required to work at least 30 ESH each academic year, may not work more than 20 ESH in any given semester, and may not work more than 36 ESH in any given academic year. It is very important that all of you know that winter session ESH is part of your spring load. Exceptions to these limitations are given in very rare and exceptional circumstances and must be requested in advance of a given semester. It is the responsibility of both management and the individual faculty member to know these contractual limits. During the current academic year, mistakes were made by both management and faculty, which resulted in several violations of the established ESH limits. In order to reduce the negative impact on students, the Chapter agreed to allow the overages to occur. Next year, the Chapter will be taking a very hard line towards granting exceptions to the ESH limits stated in the contract. Please plan accordingly and make sure you communicate with your Chair with regards to both your teaching and non-teaching ESH and remember winter session ESH is part of your spring ESH load.

Obligation to Join the Chapter or Pay a Service Fee:

This is a reminder to all full-time bargaining unit faculty members who are completing their first semester of employment at the College. Each of you has an important decision to make. Based on Article 7.7 Modified Agency Shop:

“…any faculty member hired into a bargaining unit position shall, by the conclusion of his or her initial semester of employment, be required to have dues deducted pursuant to Section 7.2 (A) or pay a service fee established by the Chapter as compensation for the representational services rendered.”

If you are a newly-hired faculty member and have not already joined the Chapter or submitted an application to the Chapter indicating that you are agreeing to pay a service fee, you must complete an authorization for dues/service fee deduction form and submit the form to Bill Talbot, (R) Accounting and Chapter Treasurer. You may access this form from the Chapter’s website at www.mcaaup.org by simply clicking the “Join the Chapter” tab. If you have any questions about this requirement, please do not hesitate to contact any other member of the Executive Committee or me.

Thank you for taking the time to read this brief message and please plan on attending the County Council budget hearings on Wednesday, April 15th, at 7:00.

Important Information on the Chair Position

As many of you may already know, during the process of the Academic Restructuring the administration has selected to alter its 30-year standing interpretation of our enabling legislation and our Contract language, specifically regarding the role of the department chair and the definition of the term “supervise.”

On May 8, the Executive Committee invited Dr. Pearl, Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs (SVP-AA), to meet with us to discuss the legal guidance the administration has received on this matter, including any possible constraints on activities permitted the members of the faculty bargaining unit. Dr. Pearl was accompanied by Jacia Smith, Director of Employee and Labor Relations and Recruitment, we assume to present management’s current opinions and respond to questions of a legal nature. We were told by Dr. Pearl that the legal guidance had come from Rocky Sorrell and Darryll VanDeussen, attorneys who have been employed by the college for many years, each of whom has intimate knowledge of the legislation and our Contract. We question the impetus for these two to suddenly and radically alter their interpretations of both at this particular time during the last stages of the development of the Academic Restructuring plan. As we pointed out during the meeting, the legal concerns about supervisory responsibilities of the department chairs are directly addressed in our Contract. And this explicit and legally binding understanding between AAUP and management has been accepted as being consistent with the enabling legislation for some 30 years. Furthermore, this understanding is also reflected in the college’s Policies and Procedures (P&P), which have remained unchanged since 1992. Again, we question: what is different now?

During the meeting, Ms. Smith stated unequivocally that faculty cannot review curriculum materials, schedule classes/faculty, order equipment/supplies, participate in employee evaluations – in fact, when we pointed out that the role of the chair is to provide academic leadership and to construct meaningful recommendations, primarily to the deans, Ms. Smith responded, “Just because you don’t make the final decision, if you have any decision you are a supervisor.” These assertions were not refuted by Dr. Pearl. Moreover, the concerns, as conveyed by Dr. Pearl and Ms. Smith, appear not to be primarily with the role of the chair as it relates to full-time faculty but rather with the role of the chair as it relates to members of SEIU and ASCME. Ms. Smith stated, “No-one in a union should supervise any other union member of any union.” Again, this assertion was not refuted by Dr. Pearl. The crux of the matter lies in the interpretation of the term “supervise.”

It is our contention that chairs do not supervise:

• Department chairs do not hire full-time faculty or staff; they sit on, often chair, hiring committees and provide recommendations. The deans have generally respected the recommendations of these committees but have always had the authority to accept or reject these recommendations.
• Department chairs do not hire part-time faculty. They review the credentials/documents of, interview part-time faculty, and present information and recommendations to the dean. Part-time faculty are hired by deans. It is Ms. Smith’s claim that this practice is supervisory.
• Department chairs do not transfer, suspend, lay off, recall, promote, or discharge any other employees.
• Department chairs do not assign employees. Under the guidance of their deans, they create schedules for classes and faculty, which are assigned by the dean, with or without modification. We were told by Ms. Smith that building schedules is supervisory.

According to the new interpretation of “supervise” that was presented to us by the administration via Ms. Smith, it seems that every department chair in every department, college-wide, who is following the definitions and directives that are stated in the college’s P&P is performing duties that, although prescribed by the administration, are now being deemed inappropriate or even illegal. If that is the case, then it would appear that the P&P has created and promoted unlawful conduct on the part of faculty chairs for 21 years. We do not believe this to be true; we believe that the P&P reflects the enabling legislation and our Contract.

It is certainly our strong preference that chairs remain faculty leaders who continue to serve under the guidance and direction of an appropriate dean to facilitate the provision of services that enhance the teaching effectiveness of faculty; to provide the critical leadership for instructional programs and students’ development; to plan, develop, administer and evaluate programs, services and personnel; to encourage innovation and promote excellence; and to develop and maintain a climate which fosters maximum student growth. We are being told, however, that these preferences are not consistent with the law. We believe they are. They are also consistent with the P&P; this wording is taken directly from the College’s existing Policies and Procedures.

Montgomery College’s Policies and Procedures 24102CP explicitly delineates the role of department chairs and explicitly states that department chairs are faculty. Included in this Procedure are the following responsibilities that we have now been informed the administration considers supervisory, and thus, inappropriate for faculty to perform:

Providing leadership for and assuring meaningful opportunities for faculty participation in:
1. Departmental planning, scheduling and budgeting
2. Recommending the selection of new full-time faculty
3. Full-time faculty evaluation processes
4. Selection and evaluation of part-time faculty
5. Hiring, supervision and evaluation of support staff

Further, it is now the contention of the administration that it is also inappropriate, contrary to the requirements of the P&P, for the chair to continue to advocate for faculty needs and oversee provision of department services in:
1. Day-to-day departmental operations
2. Departmental fiscal operations

Management is now interpreting as supervisory and, therefore, inappropriate, the aforementioned responsibilities, all of which are clearly stated as duties of the peer chair for the purpose of assuring that faculty efforts can be focused as much as possible on teaching and learning. This new interpretation does not appear to be open to further discussion with the faculty and seems to be the basis of the only two options being considered in the restructuring: either to remove the chairs from the bargaining unit, thus creating administrative chairs, or to strip the faculty chairs of compensation and all meaningful responsibilities. We believe that removing the chair position from the bargaining unit is dangerous on many levels. Faculty chairs are experts in their disciplines and the necessary bridge between faculty and administrators. Faculty chairs are able to provide the administration with a diverse perspective, specifically the student-faculty perspective in the institution’s decision-making process. Faculty chairs remain in touch with the needs of the students and understand the changing student demographics from the point of service because faculty chairs continue to teach, not merely the occasional class. In addition, even if an agreement can be reached to protect a faculty member’s faculty position after a term as an administrative chair, the union has no way of protecting a non-tenured faculty member while they are serving as an administrator. Unlike actual tenure, a tenure-like evaluation structure is only of value when the individual is a faculty member. The second option that has been considered by the administration, to remove compensation and all responsibility from the faculty chair, in our opinion, is simply punitive. We will discuss the ramifications of these options further at the AAUP meeting next week.

Based on the interpretation that was presented to us by Dr. Pearl and Ms. Smith, participating in performance evaluations for part-time faculty or staff; creating schedules for full-time and part-time faculty; signing leave slips for faculty and staff; reviewing course materials of full-time or part-time faculty; interviewing and recommending the hire of part-time faculty; directing the activities of departmental staff; and signing any form for the purpose of purchasing supplies or equipment for the department could, and most likely would, be deemed unlawful conduct. Of great import is that not only does this interpretation differ significantly from that of the union, but this interpretation entirely contradicts the P&P, a document constructed by the administration and one to which we have a unconditional obligation to adhere. And these conflicting interpretations not only present a dilemma for sitting chairs, coordinators and other faculty, but actually put them at risk regardless of the actions they take. Actions taken in defiance of the P&P or in defiance of an order from the SVP-AA could be considered insubordinate and subject to disciplinary action. Given the disconnect between the two – which are we to follow?

Compounding an already untenable situation, we have become aware that the recommendations from the Academic Restructuring Task Force include that the chair becomes a twelve-month, non-faculty position. The justification for taking the chair out of the bargaining unit is management’s assertion that department chairs are acting as supervisors for college employees in other bargaining units and that a supervisory role for AAUP members may be counter to the enabling legislation. The Chapter’s attorney refutes the characterization that such roles are counter to the law.

We have repeatedly requested the opportunity to discuss, formally and/or informally, the role of peer chairs and possible ways to modify, if necessary, the role that would preserve the position in terms of academic leadership and remain within any legal requirements. In fact, this was the stated purpose for which Dr. Pearl was invited to meet with the Executive Committee on May 8. The administration has refused to engage in such a discussion. We expect that management will implement the recommendation to pull the position of chair out of the bargaining unit. Should they choose to do so, the Chapter, on the advice of counsel, is prepared to take the matter to the State Commissioner of Labor and Industry.

The AAUP executive committee thanks you for the support that so many of you have offered us. The vocal and emailed words of support of our colleagues are always appreciated, but in these times they also serve the very important role of demonstrating to the administration that the Chapter is truly speaking on behalf of the full-time faculty.

Rick Penn
Stephanie Pepin
Bryant Davis
Sharon Piper
Bill Talbot
Jorinde van den Berg
Tim Kirkner
Rose Sachs
Dan Wilson
Robin Flanary

Course Renumbering Memorandum – April 1, 2013

 From:               Dr. Donald M. Pearl, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs 

I wish to express my appreciation to all members of the faculty, staff, and administration for the cooperation and effort that has gone into the course level review. By purposefully examining the numerical, course level assignment and sequencing, we will create a meaningful course system that outlines a clear educational pathway for our students.

After reviewing a number of course format alternatives, the College has decided that it is in our best interests to transition from a two-letter, three-number format (i.e., SN101) to a four-letter, three-number format (i.e., SPAN101). This has the advantage of bringing our numbering system in line to that of other colleges and universities in Maryland, and expanding those prefixes will improve identification for those departments that were not easily associated with their old designation. A three-letter prefix designation will continue to be used for Workforce Development & Continuing Education courses.

Upon the completion of the first phase of the course review, the College Curriculum Committee will analyze the results. Before any final decisions are made, the disciplines will have an opportunity to comment on the recommendations that are made.

Again, thank you for your support and cooperation with this process.