August 5, 2021

AAUP Update: AAUP Update: Solidarity Statement, Nominations, Testimony and more.

April 21, 2021

Colleagues:

Each semester I generally teach a class called STSU122 – Principles of Academic Success.  Students who have not performed very well academically and need to learn how to become a better student typically populate this class.  In Chapter 6, Gaining Self-Awareness, we discuss the scripts that make up of our core beliefs.  Our core beliefs are described as unconscious judgements that dictate what we consistently think, feel, and do. They are that invisible part of a script that contains our view of other people, the world, and ourselves. Our core beliefs are made up of our emotional patterns, our behavioral patterns, and our thought patterns. 

One exercise I do with my students is to ask them to complete the following sentence stems according to their core beliefs.

            The world is______________.

            People are_______________.

            I am____________________.

I didn’t teach this semester, but I imagine if I had the responses I would have seen to these three sentence stems would have been different from those I have seen in previous classes.  Why, the reasons are obvious. The COVID-19 pandemic has made the world a very scary place, a place where just going to the store or meeting with friends could result is someone becoming very ill and possibly dying.  Our students have lost the safety they feel simply by coming to campus daily because their home life is very unsafe. I could go on.

In addition to dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, the violence we have seen in this country over the past year gives all of us cause to be concerned about our own safety.  Much of this violence has recently focused on members of the Asian American community. The Executive Committee and the entire Chapter stands in solidarity with the Pacific Islander and Asian American community after the recent violence in Georgia and the on-going harassment of that community.  These events emphasize the importance of having continuing discussions on racial violence and injustice and the impacts on all communities, and for union purposes, the impact on the faculty.

Last semester I announced that the Chapter planned on hosting a spring dialogue to discuss the importance of race from the perspective of our full-time faculty and to better understand how race affects their experiences at the College. The Chapter’s goal in hosting this dialogue is to facilitate a collaborative conversation that helps Chapter leadership understand how it can better support the faculty and that helps faculty understand how they can better support each other. This dialog, “Discussing Race and Labor in Academia,” will be held today from 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. We hope you will join us in a conversation in the spirit of the World Cafe, which seeks to provide large groups with a comfortable space to build community knowledge through a series of small-group dialogues. The event is open to all members of the full-time faculty regardless of union affiliation. Members and nonmembers are welcome.  Register now.

Naliyah Kaya, Sociology, TP/SS, Michael LeBlanc, VP, TP/SS, Ginger Robinson, Negotiating Team, Katya Salmi, Sociology, Rockville, Jarvis Slacks, VP, Rockville 

As the semester progresses to a close in a month, please take some time to take care of yourself and your students.  Please recognize that many of your students may need some additional time to complete their assignments because they are having a very difficult time being a good student for a variety of reasons, including living the isolated COVID life, taking classes remotely, and dealing with a loss of income, increased stress, illness of self or family, etc.

Return to Campus Plans:

Numerous members of the faculty have contacted members of the Executive Committee and have asked us when we are going to return to campus, to our offices, to our classrooms, learning centers, etc. Several committees have been established to determine what the return to campus will look like and Dr. Pollard has spoken about this several times in her weekly messages.  Members of the Chapter serve on these committees and members of the Executive Committee have had regular meetings with members of the administration on this topic.  We represent you during these regular meetings when we discuss the plans that are being made to bring us back to campus in a safe manner.  The safety of our students and employees guides all of the plans that are being put in place to help us return to campus. 

Technology Requests:

Please don’t forget to submit your hardware requests if you need a laptop, a scanner, a Mac Book, or other technology in order to perform your job from home. 

Hardware Request Form

Nominations and the Closing Meeting:

Our closing meeting will be held on Wednesday, May 19th right after the end of the President’s closing meeting.  Our meeting should start around 11:15 a.m..  A zoom link will be sent to all of you with additional details about the meeting later in May.

At the closing meeting we will discuss the activities of the Chapter for the past year and our treasury report, we will vote on whether to increase our dues or not, we will listen to your concerns and questions, and we will announce the results of our election of Chapter officers for next year. 

An announcement about nominations for next year’s Chapter officers will be coming out in the next week or two and after the slate is announced we will hold our election electronically.  You must be a dues paying member of the Chapter in order to vote in our election of officers.  All Chapter officers serve a one-year term of office and nominations will be solicited for all positions.  The elected Chapter officers consist of the President, Secretary, Treasurer, and three Vice-Presidents, one from each campus.  One Vice-President, Michael LeBlanc-TP/SS, has indicated that he will step down from his position as the Vice-President for the TP/SS campus at the end of this year. Our previous Treasurer stepped down earlier this semester.  All other elected Chapter officers have indicated that they would like to return next year. Therefore, we need people to step up and join the Chapter leadership next year by running for office this May.  We hope that some of you will consider joining the small but active and dedicated group of faculty leaders. 

County Council Budget Hearing Testimony:

The County Council holds operating budget request hearings in April and typically, representatives from the College testify at these hearings. This year Jarvis Slacks English-R represented the Chapter by testifying on our behalf.  Below is the testimony he submitted to the County Council.

Jarvis Slacks, Vice President Rockville Campus
American Association of University Professors
Montgomery College Chapter
Operating Budget Testimony April 7, 2021

My name is Jarvis Slacks and I have been an English professor at the Rockville Campus of Montgomery College for 9 years. I am testifying today in my role as one of three Vice Presidents of the full-time faculty union, the AAUP.

I am sure that all of can agree that this past year has been anything but normal. Approximately a year ago, the entire faculty at Montgomery College had to start teaching their classes remotely and all students were expected to attend their classes remotely. This sudden shock presented us with an unparalleled task. We were expected to create remote versions of our face-to-face classes, including lab science, applied technology, studio art, physical education, etc. in one week. And to make matters more complicated, the majority of the faculty had no training on how to teach classes remotely and many didn’t have the technology at home that would enable them to do so.

Faculty counselors had to come up with a mechanism to provide remote counseling and advising services for our students.

While all of this was taking place, we had to deal with the stress of trying to protect ourselves and our families from a virus that we still didn’t understand and for which there is no cure.

Many of our students were experiencing similar stressors. Many of them didn’t own a computer at the start of the COVID crisis and had no internet access at home. Many were and still are living in some not so nice environments and had figure out how they were going to study in an environment where they had no place to study. Many of our students and members of their families contracted the virus and students still managed to attend and complete their classes.

Despite all of the negatives, our enrollments were up in the summer, we survived the fall semester, our enrollments were up in our winter session, and our spring enrollments are stable. Our students are being taught their classes by some very creative and competent faculty and they are being counseled and advised by some very dedicated faculty counselors.

We did it and how did we do it? Among other things;

  • The counselors made major modifications to our appointment system and created an on-line chat feature to help funnel students to appropriate counselors and to respond to their on-line questions in an efficient manner.
  • Our disability support service counselors modified our website and internal processes so that our students could be served remotely in a very effective manner.
  • Approximately 700 full and part-time faculty members registered for a specialized seven-week summer 2020 training program so that we would be better prepared to teach our student in a remote environment. This was an intense training program which many of us were required to participate in after the end of our regular workday.
  • We modified our spring 2021 schedule in order to better accommodate some of our students by offering 7-week classes in addition to our regular 15 and 13- week classes. This meant that a large number of faculty who were just trained to teach remotely and were still in the process of building their fall 2020 15 and 13 week classes, now had to modify those classes and make them 7-week classes.
  • Through the use of the CARES Act funding, fundraising by our Foundation, and other emergency funding, hundreds of students were provided laptops by the College so that they could attend their remote classes.
  • Hundreds of students were provided emergency funding to help them pay some of their bills and purchase food.
  • We modified our academic regulations in order to accommodate students who could not complete their classes due to COVID related reasons.

For the past year, we have continued to our part to adapt, serve, and educate our students. Now we need you to do your part and support our Administration’s FY 2022 operating budget request. We have educated many current county employees, the very ones who are going to get a raise next year. We are educating future county employees, police, fire fighters, health care workers, teachers, etc.

We have supported the College and the County over the last year and despite the increased workload, adapting courses, adapting services, as well as dealing with the personal stressors and sacrifices we experienced, we have agreed to no increase in salary for next year. Let me repeat, while other county employees negotiated an increase in salary for next year, we agreed to no increase in salary for next year. We hope that this sacrifice and degree of cooperation is recognized and appreciated by both our Administration and the County because we will be asking for and expect an increase salary for the full-time faculty for the 22-23 academic year.

Thank you

I hope all of you have a good rest of the semester.  Please look for future Chapter e-mails regarding our call for nominations and the closing meeting.

On behalf of the Chapter,

Harry Z.
Harry N. Zarin, Professor/Counselor
President-AAUP
Montgomery College

AAUP Update: County Council Operating Budget Hearings

Colleagues:

Annually the President of Montgomery College submits an operating budget request to the County Executive.  After receiving that request, the County Executive makes a recommendation to the County Council on all County funded operating budget requests.  This year the County Executive recommended that the Council fully fund the College’s FY 2022 operating budget request.

The County Council holds operating budget request hearings in April and typically, representatives from the College testify at these hearings.  The schedule and links to this year’s hearings are listed below.  This year Jarvis Slacks English-R will be representing the Chapter by testifying on our behalf.  I’ve attached a copy of his testimony to this e-mail.  I encourage each of you to take the time to read his testimony and to tune into the hearings that are happening this week. 

DATE /TIMETESTIMONYLINKNOTE
April 6 at 1:30pmMike Knapp, MC Board of TrusteesLINK 
April 6 at 7:00pmGermantown StudentLINK 
April 7 at 7:00pmJarvis Slacks, AAUP Rockville Student
View Testimony
LINK
April 8 at 7:00pmTPSS Student Chris Standing, AFSCME Mitch Tropin, SEIU Link is not posted yet. Look on this site for the link

On behalf of the Chapter, I’d like to extend our thanks to Jarvis for representing us at these hearings.  I would also like to extend our thanks to the other representatives of the College who will be testifying in support of our operating budget request. 

Harry Z.

AAUP Update: Contract 101 Seminars, Negotiations, Schedules, and More.

I hope this update finds that all of you are healthy and well.  All of us have had to make considerable adjustments to our daily lives and the students appreciate all that we are doing to support them during this most difficult time. 

This year the Executive Committee is planning to host faculty meetings several times during the academic year. We would like to use these meetings as an opportunity for you, the members, to check in with us.  You can ask questions about issues that concern you and you can give us information about any issues you would like us to know about. 

One issue we will be focusing on this year is succession planning.  Many of us on the Executive Committee and the Negotiating Team have been involved in Chapter leadership for a long time.  As with any organization, succession planning is an important issue that needs to be addressed.  We look forward to meeting with members of the Chapter and hope that many of you will consider taking on a role in leading the Chapter in the years to come.

Contract 101 Seminars:

As a service to our membership, the AAUP Negotiating Team will be sponsoring two virtual discussions this semester on the AAUP contract.

The first session will be held on Wednesday November 11, at 7:30pm and will cover the contract

  • Article 2 – Management functions,
  • Article 4- Faculty appointments,
  • Article 5 -Workload.

The second session will be held on Wednesday December 9 (time TBA) and will cover

  • Article 6- Leaves of Absence,
  • Article 7- Chapter Rights and
  • Article 8- Salaries.

We will try to schedule these sessions during times that will allow for maximum attendance.  Zoom links and other information will be sent in a separate e-mail at the beginning of November. 

Update on Negotiations:

Negotiations started on Monday, October 19, 2020.  In this initial meeting with Management, we discussed ground rules and AAUP interests. Financials (salary, EAP and overload) are on the table for this round of negotiations.

Tito Baca, Ginger Robinson, Robin Flanary and Sharon Piper (lead negotiator) are representing the Chapter as members of the Negotiating Team. 

All activities that take place at the negotiating table are confidential until both sides agree to the release of information. We will provide you with updates as best we can while negotiations are taking place.

The Winter Session:

This is just a reminder that if you are teaching during the 5-week winter session, your winter session ESH counts towards your spring load. 

Important Reminders:

  • The maximum workload you are allowed in any given semester is 20ESH.
  • The maximum workload you are allowed in any academic year, August to May, is 36ESH.
  • The minimum workload you need to carry in any academic year, August to May, is 30ESH.

Spring Scheduling:

The spring schedule has been posted and spring registration for students who have earned at least 30 credits began on November 2.  Registration for all other students begins on November 9. 

Like it or not, this year’s spring schedule is like none we have ever seen before.  The number of 15-week classes has been drastically reduced and the number of accelerated classes (primarily 7-week classes) has been dramatically increased.  The link to the Spring 2021 FAQ that was previously published is below.  Please refer to this FAQ for information on what changes were made to the spring schedule and the why.

Many of us have been meeting with students to help them figure out which classes they should take in the spring.  It is very important that all of us work with the students to help them understand the ramifications of the new schedule. Many of the students I have met with do not understand the schedule and the implications of trying to complete a class in 7-weeks.  Please encourage them to carefully consider the combination of classes they take and how many credits they plan on taking prior to actually registering for classes. 

Academic Planning Sessions:

The Academic Affairs Division will be conducting academic planning sessions on Nov 5 and 6.  During these sessions, extensive discussions will be held on the shape of future academic semesters at MC. College leadership, including Dr. Pollard, the Senior Vice Presidents, Chairs of major College-wide committees, AAUP leadership, and Faculty Council chairs have been invited to attend these planning sessions. We hope these sessions will give us a forum to talk about what a post-pandemic MC will look like.  I will be representing the Chapter at these academic planning sessions.

Parking Fees:

A number of inquiries have come to several members of the Chapter’s Executive Committee regarding parking fee assessments.  Faculty want to know if they should or could cancel their parking fee assessment.  Considering that we are all working remotely this question makes sense.

I had a private meeting and subsequent conversations with Donna Schena, Vice President for Administrative and Fiscal Services regarding this issue.  She said that she would issue a statement to the College community on this subject and she did so on October 8.  In her memorandum, she provided all of us with information about why the parking fee exists and how the revenue is used.  With that information in mind, she stated the following regarding cancelling your parking fee assessment:

”I ask you to consider what the parking revenue covers and the context of the College’s fiscal circumstances, when making your decision about whether to cancel your parking pass and the fee associated with the pass. If you wish to stop your payroll deduction for the upcoming year, you should send an email to: parking@montgomerycollege.edu. The effective date of the cancellation will be the first payroll period after receipt of the notification. “ 

You are free to request that your parking fee assessment be cancelled by following the directions Ms. Schena provided in her memorandum. In addition, you need to return your parking placard to the Central Administration building.

Open Enrollment has started:

The following is a message from the Benefits Office.

“Open Enrollment for benefits has started and runs through 5 pm on Monday, November 16th.  There are no changes to any of the benefit structures (with the exception of specialty drugs on the Cigna POS plan), and no increases to any of the paycheck deduction amounts for 2021.  Just a reminder that if you are not making any changes, then no action is required.  The one exception would be if you are electing a flexible spending account for 2021.  This requires re-enrollment in Workday every year.  Please log into Workday through My MC and click on your inbox (envelope in top right corner) to view and open your Open Enrollment event.  You must review all the pages, read the disclaimer, and click “I agree” at the end and submit.  Please save and print a copy of your changes as proof.  If you wish to change a Supplemental Retirement Annuity deduction amount (pre-tax money going to TIAA, Voya, Equitable, and/or Valic), this must be done in a separate event (Change Retirement Savings), also through Workday.  HRSTM will be offering both pre-recorded and live sessions on the different benefits, as well as virtual office hours.  Please watch for the email blasts, visit the Open Enrollment website, and visit Alex, your virtual benefit advisor, while on the site.”

Please stay healthy and well during these difficult times and take the time to take care of your own physical, emotional, and mental health.  Also, remember that if you need to take sick leave for a COVID related reason, you may be able to take COVID sick leave which will not deduct from your regular sick leave.  Please click on the link below for more information on COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave.

https://info.montgomerycollege.edu/offices/human-resources/covid-19-emergency-paid-sick-leave-request.html

On behalf of the Chapter,

Harry Z.

AAUP Update: Summer 2020-Related Issues

Colleagues:

This is the second in a number of updates that I planned to send out to all of you.  This update will focus on summer related issues.

Coordinator ESH Issue:

It has come to the attention of the Executive Committee that at least one Dean has made the decision to not provide summer Coordinator ESH to faculty within his unit.  This is the prerogative of the Dean.  We on the Executive Committee firmly believe that that faculty should not be asked to work for free.  If you are not being paid to work during the summer months then you need to refuse any attempt to make you participate in hiring committees, consultations with a Dean or a Chair on hiring of part-time faculty, or on scheduling issues.  If you are not being paid to work then let the Chair and Dean do the work over the summer months.  If you encounter any pressure to work for free during the summer and perform some of your Coordinator duties, please contact Tim Kirkner or myself.

Summer Training Concerns:

After the announcement about the summer training opportunities a flurry of e-mails were sent to members of the Executive Committee.  We received the message loud and clear that the differing messages faculty were receiving from various administrators and Chairs has caused quite a bit of confusion. I hope that the following provides you all with some clarity as it relates to summer training opportunities.

The Summer Professional Development Institute was created to help faculty obtain the training they need so that they are qualified to teach in a structured remote environment by the time classes start in summer session II.  In addition, more advanced optional offerings are provided for those faculty who are already qualified to teach in a distance learning environment but want to enhance their skill level.  If you click on the link below, you will be directed to the Summer Professional Development webpage.

https://www.montgomerycollege.edu/offices/elite/summer-institute.html

If you click on the Professional Development Opportunities link, you will see links to a summer schedule, an application form, a professional development flowchart, an infographic on structured remote teaching, and a syllabus for the structured remote teaching program. 

When you click on the application link, you will see that there are four different training programs being offered this summer.  Select the one that is appropriate for you and if you complete the program you will receive a stipend of $1,850.  These training programs are open to all full-time and part-time faculty members.  If you are not sure which program is best for you, click on the link to the flowchart and it will direct you to the program that is most appropriate for you.  The Structured Remote Teaching training is for faculty like me who have no Blackboard training or like many of you who have completed a portion of the part I training.   The advanced training options (Universal Design for Teaching, Outside the Box Assessment, and Emerging Technologies for the Classroom) are open to those of you who are already qualified to teach distance learning or hybrid classes. 

It is imperative that you complete the application and submit it to your Chair as soon as you can.  The Chair will review your application and forward it to your Dean for approval.  The application must get to the Dean by May 20. 

Please refer to the frequently asked questions link if you need additional information on any of the summer training offerings.

Please notify Tim Kirkner or myself if you are denied the right to participate in any of these training programs.

Technology Issues:

As you know, the Administration has decided that all summer session II classes will be taught in an on-line format or in a structured remote format.  We will start the fall semester teaching all classes in a similar manner.  With this in mind, I want you all to know that the Chapter has stressed to members of the Administration many of us do not have the technology in our homes that will enable us to do this.  In addition, many of us do not have the ergonomic furniture in our homes like we requested and received in our offices.  Members of the Administration are looking in the CARES Act funding to see how this funding could be used to help us meet the technology and non-technology requirements that would enable us to perform our jobs at home.

Professional Week

Next week is Professional Week and a series of guest speakers are schedule to present on relevant topics for many of us.  You must register if you want to “attend” any of these Zoom presentations through MC Learns.  Our own Dr. Collins Jones is scheduled to present on the topic of the COVID-19 virus on May 19 at 11:00am.  He is a terrific speaker and I encourage you to register for his presentation.

AAUP Closing Meeting

In my last update, I mentioned that we will be hosting a Chapter closing meeting for the faculty on Wednesday May 20 at 1:00pm.  Next week we will e-mail you a Zoom link invitation to this meeting.  Please look for this link in your e-mail and plan on attending if your schedule permits.

In closing, I hope you are all safe, and healthy, and that you are taking time to take care of yourself.  This is a very busy and stressful time for us and our students so please be good to yourself.

On behalf of the Chapter,

Harry Z.

Harry N. Zarin, Professor/Counselor

President-AAUP

AAUP Update: Nominations, Voting, End-of-Year Meeting, April Testimony

Colleagues:

This is the first of several updates that I will be sending out as our very unusual semester comes to a close.  I decided to send out several updates rather than a very long update which many of you just don’t have the time to read. 

I hope that this update finds that all of you are healthy and are doing well under the current circumstances.  This has been quite a stressful semester for all of us, especially for our students.  We have all had to deal with so many different personal issues while at the same time fulfilling our responsibilities to our students and our committee assignments.  Tim Kirkner and I sit in on Sanjay Rai’s weekly Senior Leadership Team meetings and it has been mentioned many times that the Administration is very pleased with how we have worked to move to a remote teaching environment with such short notice.  Our efforts are very much appreciated. 

Please make sure that you take some time to take care of yourself and your family.

Nominations:

The Chapter’s Constitution requires that the membership vote on who will be the elected officers of the Executive Committee at our annual end-of-year meeting.  The elected members of the Executive Committee consists of a President, three Vice Presidents (one from each campus), a Secretary, and a Treasurer.  Members of the Executive Committee serve a one-year term and are elected by simple majority of the votes cast by dues paying members of the Chapter.  Faculty in the bargaining unit who are paying a voluntary collective bargaining service fee are not members of the Chapter and therefore, are not eligible to vote in this election. 

If you would like to nominate someone to serve in one of these positions, or if you are interested in serving in one of these positions, please send your nomination to Julie Levinson, Counselor Takoma Park/Silver Spring. The nominations period will close at the close of business on Wednesday May 15.

All current elected members of the Executive Committee have indicated that they are interested in continuing to serve in their current positions next year.  Please see the Chapter’s webpage, mcaaup.org. for a list of the current Executive Committee Members.

End of Year Meeting:

The Chapter’s Constitution also requires us to hold an annual meeting which we have typically done at the end of each academic year in May.  Due to the current situation, we have decided to hold a Zoom end-of- year meeting at our usual meeting time of 11:00am on Wednesday May 20.  A link to participate in this meeting will be sent to you at a later date. During that meeting we will announce the results of the election, hear a Treasurer’s report, discuss several important issues that we have been working on  this year, and respond to any of your questions.   We hope that many of you will join in and participate in this meeting.

My Testimony:

Annually the President of the College submits a proposed operating budget to the County Executive in mid-February.  Shortly after that, the County Executive makes a recommendation to the County Council to either fully fund our request or to reduce the County contribution to our operating budget.  Following this request, the College continues to lobby the full Council by meeting with individual County Council members and by having members of the College community testify at the County Council operating budget hearing.  This year we were allowed to submit video or written testimony.  On behalf of our membership, I submitted written testimony in support of our operating budget request. A copy of the testimony I submitted is below.


Harry N. Zarin, President

American Association of University Professors

Montgomery College Chapter

Operating Budget Testimony

April 16, 2020

My name is Harry Zarin, and I have been a counselor/professor at the Germantown Campus of Montgomery College for almost 27 years. I am submitting this testimony today in my role as the President of the full-time faculty union, the AAUP.

I want to start my testimony by stating that I would have preferred to be sitting in the County Council Building giving this testimony in person as I have done numerous times.  Considering the circumstances with the pandemic, I want to thank you for giving me an opportunity to submit this testimony in writing. 

When the spring semester started, I looked forward to life as usual at Montgomery College where I have worked for almost 27 years.  Life as usual means seeing students individually or in groups on a regular basis, attending some important and not so important meetings, attending faculty meetings, attending the terrific nursing pinning ceremony, and finally attending graduation.  Unfortunately, a virus got in the way and life as we all know it changed for everyone.

Two days before the start of our spring break, an appropriate decision was made by the Administration to shut down the campuses in response to the Coronavirus pandemic.  The faculty were told that all teaching would be done on a remote basis after our return from spring break.  We had two days to prepare, along with the time we were off for the break, and create all that was needed in order teach remotely.  This was a daunting task for the majority of the faculty who had never taught a distance learning class before. 

We quickly had to become experts in using a combination of technical options that would enable us to remotely  teach, counsel, and advise our students. Blackboard Collaborate, Zoom, Google Voice, Face time, establishing VPN lines so that we could remote into our desktop computers, etc. became the order of the day. Imagine how difficult it was for our faculty to try to create an on-line chemistry, biology, or biotech lab with a few days notice.  How do you teach a studio art class or an auto tech class remotely?  These were just a few of the hurdles our faculty had to overcome in order to teach for the remainder of the semester. The efforts being made by the faculty to teach remotely this semester under stressful and ever changing circumstances has been tremendous. 

If you think this has been a stressful time for our staff and faculty, imagine how stressful this has been for our students. Many of our students have suffered academically, financially, and mentally during this difficult and unusual time.  Numerous students and their families have lost their jobs or had their hours at work severely reduced.  Finding the money to pay their bills and deal with having to learn remotely has caused tremendous increases in anxiety and mental health issues for many of our students and their families. How do you work, if you even have a job, if you have no day care options for your children? 

Imagine that you are a student who has never taken an on-line class and you are suddenly told that you have to learn remotely. How do you accomplish this task if you have no computer in your residence or access to the internet? How do you continue being a successful student with a disability when you can’t see or you are deaf? As a student with a learning disability how do you learn remotely if your learning disability is a hindrance to your ability to learn via a computer?  All of our students, especially those with disabilities, have had to adapt very quickly to this new learning environment and we have had to respond by modifying and adjusting our student support services everyday.

Our Administration and Foundation have done a wonderful job of providing for the needs of many of our students by providing them with additional financial recourses and/or vouchers so that they could receive a laptop computer.  However, there is no way we can meet the financial needs of all of our students and this is where we need the assistance of the County Council. 

Our hope and request is that you approve the College’s requested operating budget.  We want our students to return in the fall, with a budget that does not require us to increase tuition during this difficult time and so that they will have optimal resources in place to make their return successful.   We support our students and your continued support will help us help them achieve their hopes and dreams during these most difficult times.

Thank you.


In Closing:

Towards the end of next week, I will send out another update that will focus on a variety of topics. I will announce our slate of nominees for the Executive Committee and describe how voting will be done in this remote environment. I will describe some of the very important issues that we have been working on as we advocate for our contract and your rights, and will mention several other topics that I believe will be of interest to all of you.

Please take care of yourself and try to be as flexible as you can when working with your students who have struggled to get through this remote learning environment. 

AAUP Update: Summer Scheduling-Follow-up With Sanjay Rai’s Senior Leadership Team Meeting

All:

Several of us in Chapter leadership have received a number of e-mails regarding summer scheduling.  Based on those e-mails and some comments made about summer scheduling in the meeting yesterday, I feel compelled to send each of you this e-mail on behalf of the Chapter.  The e-mail focuses on five specific points.  Please understand that we do recognize the difficult situation that is facing the entire College community and that difficult decisions have been and will continue to be made during this crisis, but we do believe that several issues need to be dealt with in order to try and improve the summer scheduling situation.

  • In yesterday’s meeting it was made clear to us that the criteria for assigning summer I and II classes has not been fully determined, yet messages from the Deans to the Chairs and to the faculty have already been sent that indicate that decisions have already been made.  In one particular case, the Chair is providing little to no response when questions are posed to her. None of this should not be happening.  We hope that future communications will be the same, and if the Deans and Chairs are being given some discretion when creating their summer schedules due to specific programs in their areas, the communication needs to state that this is the reason for the decisions that have been made.  Chairs and Deans should to respond to all questions posed to them by the faulty in a reasonable period of time.
  • We all know that we are currently in a very anxiety-provoking crisis. People are worried about their health, their families, their job security, their loss of income, and their students.  It is absolutely necessary that clear and consistent messages come from all administrators and managers regarding summer scheduling.  Please remember that, as of today, the only group of employees at the College who will be losing thousands of dollars due to this tragic situation are the faculty.  The Chapter hopes that future communication will convey some understanding for and compassion for those who will lose significant summer income during these difficult times.
  • Based on what we heard yesterday, it appears that faculty who have been teaching hybrid classes will be treated differently than faculty who have been teaching fully on-line classes, even though they have been deemed to be qualified to teach fully on-line classes. This needs to be fixed in the criteria for assigning classes so that they are treated the same. The faculty need to be given more time to convert their hybrid class to a fully on-line class, not less time. Let us not forget that quality matters training is mostly based on good instructional design and not solely on technology. Faculty who demonstrate good design should also receive consideration regardless of their experience teaching online. In addition, many faculty use Blackboard as a supplement to their face to face class and this too should be taken into consideration. What we heard from Sharon made no mention that anything but previous online teaching would be considered.
  • The criteria for summer scheduling should state that no chairs will be assigned summer classes since they are being paid a 12 month salary whether they teach or not and during this very unusual time they should not be allowed to take money away from a faculty member.
  • Assuming things are back to normal for summer II, the priority for assigning summer II classes should go to those faculty who were not given an opportunity to teach during summer I.

Chapter leadership appreciates all that is being done by the Administration to keep the College afloat and all that is being done to protect the employees.  We also appreciate being give a “seat at the table” during the Wednesday meetings.  The decision to do remote teaching and learning until the end of the semester was a difficult decision to make but it was the correct decision.

On behalf of the Chapter,

Harry Z.

President-AAUP

AAUP Update: Working Remotely

Colleagues:

For the next several weeks, the College will be operating under emergency remote protocol procedures. Faculty will be teaching remotely, counselors will be offering counseling and advising services remotely, and tutoring and coaching will happen remotely. Access to all buildings on all campuses will be very restricted.  All of the employees of the College and our students will have to adjust to this very trying situation. 

As a faculty, many of us are being asked to do something that we have never done before and are not prepared to do, that is teach remotely. Many of us have never had any Blackboard training and have avoided it because our thrill as a teacher comes from being in the classroom with our students. Many of our students know that on-line learning is not for them and therefore, they only register for face-to-face classes.  It is time for all of us to make some major adjustments in how we teach and work with students.

For the next several weeks it is very important that we continue to provide our students with the very best instruction we can offer under these unusual and difficult circumstances. Please keep in mind that we must all be flexible when working with our students, many of whom have never logged onto Blackboard before.  Be flexible when requiring that assignments be due on specific dates, be flexible when working with students with disabilities who are used to a very specific set of accommodations when they are on-campus.  Look to the memo that Sue Haddad sent out today for recommendations on how to work with these students for the next several weeks. 

Please remember that you do not need to create an entire semester’s worth of materials on your Blackboard site over the next few days.  All you have to do is be ready to go on March 23 and have your materials ready for that week. During that week, prepare for the next week and so on.  Please work with each other and support each other during this difficult time.  It would be best if you create all of your documents in Blackboard so that they are accessible to our students who use assistive technology to access information in Blackboard. If you are an experienced Blackboard user, offer assistance to those with little or no knowledge of Blackboard. Look to Elite for assistance as you develop your on-line resources for your students, for additional training, and also refer to the following webpage on emergency remote teaching guidelines:

https://www.montgomerycollege.edu/offices/elite/emergency-remote-teaching-guidelines.html

On March 23 you may want to start your class by providing your students with some general information about what to expect for the next several weeks and encourage them to check their MC e-mail and Blackboard course mail daily for updates about the College. Providing them with an overview of what to expect will help to reduce their stress during this difficult time. Please notify your Dean and Chair if any of your students tell you that they do not own a computer or have internet access at home.  The College has some limited resources available and may be able to loan these students laptop computers on a short-term basis. 

Members of the Administration are very aware that spring break is generally a time when the instructional faculty are not required to do anything related to their classes and that many of you will be working throughout the break to get ready for March 23. Dr. Rai’s memo this afternoon spoke to this and to the work that many at the institution have done over the past few days to get ready for the next few weeks.

Please take care of yourselves and stay healthy.

On behalf of the Chapter,

Harry Z.

AAUP Update: Tentative Agreement and More

Colleagues:

I hope that all of you read the e-mail Sharon Piper, our Chief Negotiator, sent out last Friday.  In that e-mail she outlined the tentative agreements we negotiated with Management for the 2020-2021 academic year.  In order to answer your questions and provide you with some additional information, we have arranged to hold faculty forums on each campus this week.  Members of the Executive Committee and the Negotiating Team will be in attendance at each meeting.  I encourage you to come to one of these meetings so that you may ask your questions and hear our presentation about the items we negotiated. 

The ratification vote will take place next week, it will be an electronic vote, and only dues paying members of the Chapter will be allowed to vote on the ratification of the tentative agreement. 

The meeting schedule is as follows:

  • Rockville forum-Tuesday February 18, 2-3:30 p.m. location SC462.
  • Germantown forum-Thursday February 20, 2:30-4 p.m. location BE 165
  • TP/SS forum-Friday February 21, 12-1:30 p.m. location SN 105

We look forward to seeing many of you at one of these meetings. 

On behalf of the Chapter,

Harry Z.

AAUP Update: Elimination of the 4th Year Evaluation Requirement, Annual and Semester ESH Limits and More

I hope that all of you are healthy and that you are having a good semester. Now that the Nationals season is over we can all go back to getting some sleep by going to bed at an earlier hour.

Here are some updates that I would like you to be aware of as the semester progresses. 

The Court Case:

As I stated in my September update, our case was heard by a three-judge panel in the Maryland Court of Special appeals in September.  I need to inform you that, unfortunately, the decision of the Court of Special Appeals did not go our way. We on the Executive Committee have been in contact with the Chapter’s attorneys and another outside labor attorney, regarding the decision of the COSA and about our options for moving forward.  There are several options that we could pursue regarding our case.  One could make an argument for and against each option and this is what we are in discussion about with our attorneys.

By the time we meet at the January opening meeting we should be able to share with you the decision we have made on your behalf. I want as many full-time faculty as possible to attend the January opening meeting. At the meeting, we will lay out the reasons for our decision.

A copy of the Court’s decision is posted in the court documents section of the Chapter website for your review.

Below are some important reminders that you should keep in mind as the fall semester winds down and we move into our winter and spring semesters.

Elimination of the 4th Year Evaluation Requirement-Article 4 Section 4.2

The fall semester is a busy time for all of us, and it is an especially busy time for those who are scheduled to be evaluated this semester. For a number of years, all full-time faculty members were required to be evaluated during their first 5 years of employment at Montgomery College.  I wanted to remind all of you that as of the fall of 2015, the required 4th year of employment evaluation was eliminated.  All full-time faculty are required to be evaluated during years one, two, three, and five.  After that all full-time faculty are scheduled to be evaluated every 5 years.  More information regarding the evaluation cycle can be found in the Collective Bargaining Agreement-Article 4.

Semester and Annual ESH Requirements and Limits-Article 5:

Here are some important ESH reminders which are covered in Article 5 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

All full-time faculty members are required to work a minimum of thirty (30) ESH per academic year. 

No faculty member can be required to work in excess of thirty-two (32) ESH per academic year without consent of the faculty member, or eighteen (18) ESH per semester without consent of the faculty member.

Extended winter session and winter session ESH counts towards your spring ESH totals.

Full-time faculty may work up to twenty (20) ESH in any given semester.

No faculty member may work in excess of thirty-six (36) ESH per academic year.

Educational Assistance Program (EAP)-Article 9 Section 9.4 (A) and (B):

The FY2020 maximum individual benefit for tuition, fees, and conferences=$3,030.00

The FY 2020 maximum for travel related to professional development=$1,334.00

EAP may now be used to cover more than one professional membership.  This change in the Policies and Procedures at MC has been approved and the changes will be reflected in the on-line Policies and Procedures in the near future.  I have been informed that there is no limit to the number of professional memberships that may be covered by your individual EAP.  It is always best to see if multiple faculty in the same department would benefit more from an institutional membership paid out of the Department’s funds. If you plan to join/renew multiple professional memberships, doing so at one time helps with college-wide annual spending projections.

Encumber early – Once the funds are gone, they are gone.

Encumber accurately so MC can accurately project total funds that will be spent. This ensures as many requests as possible can be honored.

Let your Dean and HR know right away if you cannot travel as anticipated if funds were encumbered. This is an important action and your responsibility, as released unused encumbered funds can then be used by other full-time faculty for their professional development travel.

Bereavement Leave-Article 6 Section 6.4

The number of days you can take for bereavement leave was increased to a maximum of 5 days as of the start of the 2019-2020 academic year

Negotiations:

There is little I can say about negotiations other than they have begun.  We are working on negotiating increases in salary, overload pay, and EAP as well as an issue related to faculty short-term disability.  Once tentative agreements have been reached and both sides agree, we will issue a statement that outlines the terms and conditions of each tentative agreement.  We will also provide you with information on the voting process that will be needed to ratify the agreements. 

Membership Drive:

Michael LeBlanc- English TP/SS is leading a Chapter organizing group. One of the goals of the group is to help increase our membership.  Those of you who are not members of the Chapter or who are not paying the voluntary collective bargaining support fee will probably be receiving, or have received, a visit, phone call, or e-mail communication about the benefits of supporting out Chapter.  Those of us on the Executive Committee appreciate the efforts of this group of faculty and are hopeful that many of you will heed the advice of this group and either join the Chapter or support our efforts by deciding to pay the voluntary collective bargaining support fee.

Initial Salary Placement Review:

This is an on-going issue that is taking much longer than any of us anticipated.  We have been in contact with Santo Scrimenti in the Employee and Labor Relations Office and he has assured us that his intention is to communicate directly with the faculty who requested a review/reevaluation of their initial salary placement.  I have heard from some faculty who received an e-mail which stated that a review of their file resulted in no increase in salary. Many faculty who requested a review, as far back as May 2019, have heard nothing other than receiving an e-mail that the process is complex and we will be in touch. No faculty members who have been in touch with the Chapter have indicated that they were part of the review/reevaluation process. How do you conduct a review/reevaluation and not contact the individual faculty members?  I’m not sure but this is the process that those in the Employee and Labor Relations Office have decided to undertake. 

Several of us on the Executive Committee have spoken with several members of the Administration, including Donna Schena, about the length of this review process, that the individual faculty members are apparently not part of the review process, and the lack of communication with the individual faculty members. We will continue to pursue this issue and work towards an expeditious resolution of this seemingly endless process.

Thank you for taking the time to read this update. Again, I encourage all of you to attend the January opening meeting.  This is one of the few times each year when we as a group of full-time faulty can meet and discuss issues that are of interest to all of us.

I hope you have an enjoyable and safe Thanksgiving holiday.

On behalf of the Chapter,

Harry Z.

AAUP Update: Our Court Case and More

Colleagues:

I am writing to let all of you know that our case was heard today in the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.  A three-judge panel listened to the oral arguments of both sides, asked questions of both the College’s attorney and our attorney, and as expected, rendered no opinion from the bench. I have been told that we now have to be patient while we wait for a ruling from the Court.  The waiting period can be as short as one day to three months or longer.  We are hopeful that the waiting period will not be too long and that The Court rules in our favor.

Thanks to all who attended our full faculty meeting last month.  We on the Executive Committee appreciated your attendance and your active participation in the meeting.  I mentioned in the meeting that the initial salary review which some of you requested is still in process.  A number of faculty members received an e-mail stating that a review of their initial salary has been completed and there will be no increase in salary.  If you received one of these e-mails and have questions, please contact Santo Scrimenti directly and request a meeting with him.  He assured me that he is willing to meet with each faculty member individually to review their individual request.  Please feel free to request that a member of the Executive Committee sit in with you when you have this meeting.  Others of you received an e-mail stating that you will receive an increase in your salary. This communication should include the specific dollar amount of your increase and the conditions under which the College is agreeing to award you this increase in salary.  Do not hesitate to contact a member of the Executive Committee if you have any questions about this communication.  You can also request a meeting with Santo Scrimenti so that he can provide you with additional information on how the College arrived at the decision they made to increase your salary.

Plans for the upcoming negotiations are underway.  We plan on negotiating for increases in salary, EAP, over load pay, and resolving a discrepancy in the short-term disability policy between faculty and the staff and administration.  All that occurs concerning negotiations at the table is generally confidential until both sides release a joint statement or until both sides agree that some information can be released.  With this in mind I will keep you all posted as best I can once negotiations begin. 

I hope that your beginning to the semester has been uneventful, that all of the students in your classes are delightful, and that they will do all that you ask in a respectful and timely manner.  We should all be so lucky.

On behalf of the Chapter,

Harry Z.