October 20, 2017

AAUP-MC: Important Updates

Hello Everyone,

I hope you are having a nice semester.  The AAUP Executive Committee has been very busy as of late so we wanted to take the opportunity to update you on some issues and concerns we have been working on.

  1. Faculty Focus Groups – The AAUP faculty focus groups that are preparing for next year’s negotiations are off and running and have been very productive.  Many great ideas are being generated.  We look forward to sharing the results with you in the spring.  We want to thank the many volunteers we have had for the focus groups – we feel confident that it will help us represent your interests in the best way possible next year during negotiations. Once negotiations have begun, the AAUP negotiating committee will not be able to discuss the negotiations, which makes it all the more important that we do our homework now.
  2. Contract Violations – As we mentioned in a past update, early in the semester we noticed two potential contract violations.  One of these violations dealt with distance learning and the other concerned the pay/calendar issue.  We were prompt in our response to these issues, relaying our concerns with the college and using our lawyer to handle the legal matters. Without revisiting all of the details of both contract violations, I do want to update you on where we stand.  We are waiting to hear back from our lawyer on the two letters that he sent to the college lawyers in response to these two potential violations. We also had our lawyer from AAUP National send a letter to the college in support of our pay/calendar issue.  These letters were sent on September 3 (Distance Learning) and September 13 (pay/calendar) and we (and our lawyer) are still waiting for a full response from the college.  We hope to see some movement in these matters this week.
  3. Distance Learning Side Letter  – As many of you are aware, our contract includes a side letter, which covers issues related to distance learning.  This side letter was effective from July 1, 2010 until June 30, 2013. As part of our responsibilities as AAUP, it was imperative that we update this side letter as soon as possible.  Since 2010 there have been many changes and developments in distance education that are not covered or even mentioned in the side letter.  The negotiation of previous side letters have not used a traditional bargaining approach but rather have relied on labor management groups using more interest based bargaining techniques (where no hierarchical relationships exist). Both the college and the AAUP found this very advantageous because it allows negotiations to be conducted by faculty, deans, and directors rather than by lawyers and human resource personnel.  Interest based bargaining (IBB) tends to be very collegial and collaborative and has a proven track record of success at Montgomery College.  Unfortunately, as it stands, the college has indicated that is not interested in proceeding with IBB; they are choosing, instead, a more traditional, antagonistic, bargaining approach.  This approach will force a delay in the process and will be more costly – both for the college and the AAUP.  Instead of relying solely on faculty familiar with the issues (in this case Distance Learning), we will now need to coordinate with our lawyer and trained negotiators.  While the AAUP and the administration have always had the right to unilaterally impose a return to traditional bargaining, we are disheartened by this action.  This traditional bargaining approach is especially difficult for faculty because unlike the administration we do not have full-time personnel dedicated to these issues. Currently we are awaiting a response from the college confirming that they are indeed committed to abandoning interest based bargaining – a style of bargaining we have successfully used for 12 years.  Once we know their intention, we will be able to begin the negotiation and update the side letter as fast as possible.
  4. Academic Restructuring Work Groups – many of you will begin work this week on the restructuring work groups, which will have a huge impact on the look of our college moving forward. Along with the Faculty Council, we urged you to participate and you did – thank you!  In order to help you prepare for some of the issues under discussion in the Restructuring, we wanted to take this opportunity to collate the concerns that faculty have been bringing to our attention at meetings (special thanks to those of you who presented your concerns at our recent meetings), in passing conversations, over lunch, and, of course, through emails and phone calls. We have heard your concerns, and we believe the information below impacts faculty and will be helpful to our representatives on the work groups.

We’ve located two major areas of concern for faculty: faculty voice within academic areas of the college and faculty engagement with issues outside of the classroom.  Below are specific examples that underscore the issues within these two major areas of concern.

  • AELP – The administrative control over AELP courses that ignored the recommendations of AELP faculty
  • General Education – The abolishment of the original general education committee with no input from faculty and against the recommendation of faculty council.
  • P&P Changes – Changes in MC policies and procedures that limit faculty participation in the curriculum committee. (i.e. P&P 9.214)
  • CTL – The Center for Teaching and Learning no longer is run by a faculty member
  • Final Grades – Grade submission policies changed in the middle of the semester, again with little input or discussion with faculty
  • Quick Changes – Due to new software for scheduling and for room assignments, a tremendous amount of extra work was involved with setting up the fall schedule. Coordinators had little time to prepare for such a drastic scheduling change.  This extra work followed last semester’s room assignment software program failure. We’ve also been plagued with extremely low response rates for the relatively new online classroom evaluations. The change in evaluations was started as a pilot project, but by some measure, never received proper scrutiny. Many of you commented that new systems often have a difficult beginning, and it’s usually best to present one system at a time to help ensure the system’s success. Between the new software for scheduling, the room assignment software and the online evaluations (not to mention the mandated course renumbering and relabeling), some faculty members feel overwhelmed and believe that these mistakes are emblematic of such rapid change. Might these missteps be avoided with increased faculty inclusion?
  • Governance – our new participatory governance system (vs. our previous shared governance system) has produced mixed results.  Many of you have stated that the new system provides a watered down version of full time faculty representation. Consequently, faculty engagement, by our measure, has not increased. In our new governance model, there are no councils whose members are solely full-time faculty dealing with full-time faculty issues. In fact, the College Council currently only requires one faculty representative.  Many of you have shared concern that getting rid of academic chairs next fall will create an even larger full-time faculty representative hole within our new governance model. If you look at the macro view of the governance model, the AAUP is a part of the overall structure; however, our purpose has been relegated to contract issues. We are not utilized for consultation or for general representation for full-time faculty outside of the contract.
  • Outcomes Assessment – we have heard your concerns regarding OA especially with regards to the lack of faculty leadership, the inclusion of part-time faculty (this has traditionally been a full-time faculty issue), and decreases in compensation for working in outcomes assessment.
  • In general, we have heard an increasing number of examples where faculty feel increasingly alienated from anything outside of the classroom, including control over academic and curriculum matters.

5. Meeting with Dr. Pollard – Last Thursday, the co-chairs of the Collegewide Faculty Council and I met with Dr. Pollard to discuss the new administrative chair position.  The meeting accomplished several important goals: 1. a new January deadline for the restructuring work groups (vs. the original December deadline) 2. an incremental implementation of the restructuring process (with a commitment to determine what aspects will be incremental to be determined in the work groups) 3. the exploration of chairs re-entry to the faculty through a mechanism such as tenure.  The final goal is of particular interest.  Many of you have expressed the importance for chairs to have access back into the bargaining unit.  While pulling chairs out of the bargaining unit and into an administrative position is controlled by the administration (as we have previously examined), the process for coming back in is more complicated and is a contractual issue.  We would have liked to have seen the college work with us much earlier in the process to help resolve this major issue, especially considering that, from the input we have received, many current academic chairs do not have interest in becoming administrative chairs.  Will this change? We do not know but the issue of hiring a sizable amount of external administrators will pose signigicant hurdles for the college in many areas.

The AAUP executive committee is encouraging HRDE to help resolve our contract disputes and to begin the DL side letter negotiation in an efficient and collegial manner so we can put our energy and focus on working on the administrative chair issue that has so many of us concerned.  If we are to seriously explore the mechanism of reinstituting tenure, or any other contractual means of returning chairs to the ranks of the faculty, it will take great deal of time and commitment.  This will be especially difficult considering that we are preparing for a full contract negotiation next year.

For a very interesting example of another school moving through a similar transition please read the following article:
http://chronicle.com/article/U-of-Scranton-Faculty-Fights/133946/

Hopefully you were able to make it through this rather long email. Not all issues that we have been working on or that have been expressed by faculty have been represented in this particular email but please do not let that be a reflection that they are not being seriously considered, discussed, and worked on. I look forward to our continued conversations and thank you for your time.

On behalf of the AAUP-MC 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)

AAUP Mission & Description: http://www.aaup.org    http://mcaaup.org/
The mission of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) is to advance academic freedom and shared governance, to define fundamental professional values and standards for higher education, and to ensure higher education’s contribution to the common good. Founded in 1915, the AAUP has helped to shape American higher education by developing the standards and procedures that maintain quality in education and academic freedom in this country’s colleges and universities.

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