April 26, 2017

AAUP Update: Friday’s Meeting

I wanted to thank everyone for coming out on a Friday night to the AAUP meeting.  We had a terrific turn out (about 120 people) with lots of spirited discussion.  We understand that many of you could not be there and we appreciate your emails, comments, and support.  I wanted to give a brief summary of the meeting for those who could not attend.  Our main goals of the meeting were to make sure everyone understood two important issues: 1. pay/calendar dispute (this will be further examined in an upcoming email) and 2. ramifications of our forthcoming academic restructuring.  The restructuring may prove to the be the most significant change to MC in decades.

Our agenda of the meeting was as follows:

  • Pay/Calendar Dispute
  • Academic Restructuring
    • Background & Recommendation Report
    • Statute
    • Administrative Chairs
    • Proposed Definition
    • Impacts
    • Important Questions
  • Best-Case Scenario
  • Reactions/Future Plans

While it will not be possible to cover all of the information discussed in the meeting in this memo, I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight some important potential impacts and questions that were discussed regarding our working conditions. Our focus was mainly on the position of the chairs and how that will impact faculty and faculty representation at the college.  Under the new proposed recommendations the chair would move to an administrative position, hold a 12-month position, be removed from the bargaining unit for limited time (3-8 years), will teach 6 ESH per year, will complete all evaluations (FT faculty, PT faculty, and staff), and will be on campus 40 hours a week (staff/administrator requirement).

Potential Impacts:

  • Adds multiple layers of Administration (40 new administrative chairs)
  • Shrinks the Bargaining Unit by approximately 10%
  • Potentially weakens leadership and faculty representation:
    • All of the designated chairs’ positions in governance will become administrators’ positions, leaving even fewer faculty members in governance.
    • Chairs Meetings and the voice of chairs as a representative body will no longer exist.
    • The only group purely representing faculty will be AAUP.
  • Potentially strips faculty of decision-making capabilities. The concept that faculty cannot make decisions or “supervise” will affect coordinators and program directors as well.
  • Alienates chair from department.
    • An external Administrative Chair would not be familiar with a department and its faculty. Impacts include scheduling inefficiencies, loss of familiarity with strengths/weaknesses of faculty, etc.
    • Administrative Chairs will be managing a much larger pool of faculty; thus, faculty and students will suffer inefficient bureaucratic processes.

Important questions that were discussed:

  • Are the chair positions to be exclusively internal or external?
  • If they are internal – we’re able to use our prescribed hiring methods, and we’re able to establish teaching ability. However, what happens if no internal candidate steps forward or is qualified?
  • How would an external candidate be hired–as an administrator or a professor? Who would sit on the hiring committee? Would this person be allowed to come “back” to a bargaining unit that they were not in to begin with? How will these positions be evaluated?
  • How will the faculty position be backfilled? Increase in part-time instructors? Temp full-time (which can only last a year)? This would further erode the FT/PT ratio. Administration purports to privilege a 67/33 (FT/PT ratio)
  • What would be the process for chairs to return to faculty? How does rank advancement play into this?
  • How is this going to be paid for? Reduction of alternate ESH?

Potential Solutions

  • Tenure would be reinstated to protect chairs while they are out of the Bargaining Unit.
    • In order to reinstate tenure, it would be necessary to negotiate the terms as tenure is addressed in our Contract.
    • Tenure must be granted with integrity – not merely because a chair is needed. Reinstating tenure would need to be included in next year’s  negotiations.
  • No faculty member who has been employed for fewer than seven years would be protected if they left the Bargaining Unit
  • The chairs’ faculty positions would be held until they return. The only way to hold faculty positions for 3-8 years would be by hiring part-time faculty. As mentioned, this would further imbalance the FT/PT ratio.

Timeline for Restructuring
Based on Dr. Pearl’s memo that was sent on September 9th we anticipated the formation of restructuring work groups. These work groups are tasked with completing the details and managing the unanswered questions of the restructuring process.  Work groups are expected to complete this work by December 20. Membership to these work groups  was to begin “in the coming days” following the September 9th email.  As far as we know these groups have not been formed.  We feel strongly that faculty representation should be chosen by faculty; however, we still have no firm indication that this will be the case.  The restructuring implementation is set to begin on July 1, 2014.

Faculty Discussion
There was quite a diversity of opinions and ideas during the meeting and we very much appreciate everyone’s feedback.  We are committed to representing you in the best way possible so these kinds of meetings are very helpful. Regarding academic restructuring, faculty did seem to agree that the information given was not timely and lacked proper inclusion. The exclusionary aspect of some of the proceedings of this particular change is peculiar considering that there may have been support if faculty were allowed appropriate participation.  Instead, many feel alienated from the process, and apprehensive about the outcome.

One point that seemed to frustrate some of the attendees is the lack of answers to several key questions.  We have had to resort to speculation on many of these questions.  Let me assure you that it is not that these questions have not already been asked repeatedly by academic, governance, and union leaders, but that answers have not been forthcoming.

What’s Next

We strongly urge everyone to get involved and to research and understand the issues, questions, and what is at stake.

  • Be vocal : Everyone needs to start expressing their concerns with friends, faculty, deans, etc.
  • Board of Trustees: The board would love to hear from you, not just AAUP leadership.  We will update you with dates and times of BOT meetings
  • AAUP Leadership has been working with both our local lawyers and at National.  The lawyers for AAUP and MC will be meeting soon.
  • AAUP Leadership will be working hard to push for a more and fairer faculty representation, especially concerning academic restructuring and other crucial changes to the college.
  • AAUP Leadership will be working with Faculty Council to express our concerns to the administration

We will continue to give you frequent updates as things develop.  Thank you all for your comments and suggestions and please keep them coming.

On behalf of the AAUP Executive Committee,

Dan

Dan Wilson, Associate Professor
President – AAUP
Chair – Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice
Suite 224 (Room 234) Humanities Building
Montgomery College – Rockville, MD
240-567-7486 (Office)

Reminder: AAUP meeting this Friday (9/20)!!

This is a friendly reminder of our off-campus meeting to be held on September 20th in the Carnation Room at the Rockville Senior Center at 5:30pm.  At this off campus meeting, we will discuss details, ramifications, and next steps regarding the restructuring changes happening at MC and so much more!  We are holding the meeting off-campus because of the sensitive nature of the faculty interests we will be discussing.  We sincerely hope that all of you will be able to join us. The Rockville Senior Center, located at 1150 Carnation Dr., Rockville, MD, 20850, is only 1.4 miles from Montgomery College-Rockville. The following link provides directions: http://goo.gl/maps/tQDse. This meeting is for dues-paying AAUP members only.

Faculty Focus Groups

We are finalizing the contract negotiation faculty focus groups; we should be completed by Friday, 9/5/13.  Thank you for responding with such enthusiasm to our request for volunteers– we are thankful that so many of you are willing to work with, and for, your fellow faculty members. We had such a tremendous number of volunteers who responded to the sign-up email that not all volunteers were assigned to a group, and not all volunteers were given their first choice of groups.

Once we finalize the focus groups, a member of the executive committee (who will also be your group leader) will contact you to set up meeting dates, times, and places. S/he will also instruct your group on how to research contractual issues. We apologize if you were not assigned to a group, and we hope you are able to understand our numbers cap on focus group members. We truly hope you will consider volunteering your time with AAUP in the near future.

Academic Area Restructuring – Faculty Comments

Listed below are many of the comments and questions that faculty have brought to the AAUP over the academic area restructuring.  These are the views expressed by the faculty, and as such some may disagree with others.  That is fine, and a healthy debate is to be encouraged on such important matters.  No comments were excluded due to the AAUP leadership disagreeing with their content; however, comments that attacked individuals, or were otherwise deemed too inflammatory to include in such a posting were removed.  Other comments were edited only to preserve anonymity. 

Thank you once again for all of your feedback.

  [Read more…]

Update on the Restructuring

Colleagues,
Thank you for the steady flow of concerns regarding the academic restructuring that you have shared with the AAUP leadership before, during, and since our meeting last week. We take these concerns very seriously and are doing our best to fully and effectively represent them to both the senior administration and the Board of Trustees. I’d like to share some of the efforts that we have undertaken and plans that we have going forward.

This coming Monday, April 8, is the next meeting of the Board. I have requested time to speak during the open comments period at the beginning of this meeting to relay those concerns that we have heard so clearly and share. I encourage each of you to attend in a show of strength and solidarity. The meeting is scheduled to start at 8:15 pm in the Board Room in the Mannakee building.

Yesterday morning I met with Dr. Pollard. During this meeting we talked at great length about how angry so many of the faculty are regarding both the process and apparent direction in which the restructuring is headed, and I emphasized the feeling of marginalization that is so prevalent. I have also been continuing the research I mentioned last week on practices at other multi-campus, unionized institutions and expect to have more to say based on that by the time of the Board meeting.

The full AAUP executive committee has remained very involved in the efforts. We have had numerous discussions on how to best advocate on this matter, and have scheduled an emergency meeting for tomorrow. In addition, we are working on a compilation of the written and oral feedback that we have received. Our plan is to edit these only to remove references that may identify the speaker or other specific individuals and then post these to our website. If you shared anything that you would rather not be made public even anonymously please contact me by email ASAP, and we will respect your wishes. Should you prefer, you may also contact me at president@mcaaup.org or my personal email address, profpenn@yahoo.com. Please also consider sending to me, if you have not already done so, specific issues and actions that I could include when I speak before the Board. The more examples I am able to include which illustrate why we are feeling angry, distrustful, and marginalized, the more effective our case will be.

Your union leadership genuinely appreciates all of the feedback we have received and wants to assure you that we are working diligently to represent your concerns as effectively as possible.

Union Meeting on Academic Restructuring

Colleagues,
Thank you to the many of you who have shared your thoughts and concerns on the academic area restructuring with the union. I hope you have also taken the opportunity to communicate directly with the task force and Dr. Pearl. In response to the many requests that the AAUP has received to further discuss this issue, and in recognition of the significant impact that the restructuring will have on our jobs, the executive committee of the AAUP invites all members of the AAUP to a special union meeting on Thursday, March 28, from 4-5 pm in the Theater Arts Arena on the Rockville Campus. At this meeting we will share the specific concerns that we have as a union and discuss the feedback that we have received from you.
I hope to see many of you then. In the meantime, please keep the feedback coming, and have a great spring break.

Rick Penn

Volunteers needed

MC-AAUP is in need of 2 volunteers.  Please consider serving in one of these capacities.

First, as Stephanie Pepin announced at the opening meeting, the Chapter is seeking to create a liaison to the College’s Board of Trustees.  This person will help foster communication between the Chapter and the Board, and will observe the Board’s open meetings on behalf of the Chapter.

Also, the AAUP has been asked for a volunteer to serve on a new “Common Employee Experience” committee. The committee will meet on Friday afternoons starting 2/8.
The charge of the committee is to:
Assist Montgomery College in becoming a destination employer by defining and recommending the adoption of a common employee experience – what it will mean to belong to the Montgomery College employee community; what employees should expect from their employment experience at Montgomery College. Utilize a process to accomplish this objective that emphasizes reliance on data, examination of best practices, adherence to Montgomery College’s values, and collaboration.

If you might be interested in serving  in either of these roles, please contact your campus AAUP vice president or me ASAP.
Thank you.

Rick Penn

Stop the Shift

The AAUP is joining with the Administration of Montgomery College, the County Council, County Executive, MCPS and others throughout the state to oppose the state’s plan to shift the cost of funding pensions for teachers and others to the counties.  The impact to the County of this shift would be significant, and the repercussions would be felt by all of us.  But the point is not just that we as a community would have to do more – there is a fundamental problem with the State negotiating pensions, not properly funding them, and then passing the buck to the local jurisdictions.  A blog and information about how you can make your voice heard on this can be found at www.stoptheshiftmd.com

 

Class sizes for distance education classes

Over the past couple of weeks each faculty member has received a letter from his or her dean stating that all distance education classes would have the seat capacity changed to 25, with only limited exceptions (and that the exceptions, if any, would be for entire courses but not individual sections). Some faculty have also received a form for requesting an exception, though many have not. The AAUP raised several objections to the policy as explained in this letter and to the content of the exception form, and listed for the administration several ways in which these violate our contractual rights as negotiated in the distance education side letter.

This matter was considered last week by the AAUP-Management Collaboration Committee, along with the faculty representatives to the task force which drafted the side letter. On some key points I am happy to report that the administration recognized the validity of our objections, and agreed to immediate changes to bring the policy and its implementation more in line with the contract. Faculty should have received a notice from their respective deans late last week detailing these changes. However, there are other aspects on which the College is still not in compliance with our contract; on these we have contacted the Chapter’s attorney, and are preparing to file a grievance.

The specific objections we have raised primarily concern the process by which the seat capacities for distance education courses were set in the various disciplines, the influence that the disciplines had (or didn’t have) in shaping these seat capacities, and the ability of individual faculty to request exceptions for their own section (s).

As we continue to work to ensure that the contractual rights of the faculty are honored, what should you do if you are scheduled to teach a distance education class this spring?

1) If your area indicated in its discussion with the dean that the appropriate class size is less than 25, be sure to submit the appeal form prior to the December 1 deadline indicated on the new form. If you have not received this form, be sure to ask your dean for a copy ASAP. If the lead dean for your discipline chooses not to adhere to the area’s requested limit they will now be required to explain exactly why they deem the larger class size to be appropriate. If your area never had the opportunity to even have this conversation before the class size was changed, you should appeal all classes for which the seat capacity has been increased, as well as notify myself and Tim Kirkner, the Chapter’s grievance officer. Filing an appeal in no way indicates an acceptance of the policy as implemented.

2) Second, the contract also explicitly mentions that exceptions to the standard class size for a given course may be made for an individual faculty member’s section: “When scheduling classes in a distance learning format, faculty members and the Lead Dean will discuss to determine whether an exception, either greater or lesser, to typical class size should be made.” The first letter we all received explicitly states that such exceptions will not be granted and the second does not indicate any change on this matter. The Chapter recommends that you file appeals for exceptions for individual sections if you believe that one is warranted, despite the fact that the letter says that such exceptions will not be made.