September 28, 2022

AAUP Update: Nominations and Commencement

May 3, 2022

Colleagues:

I have decided that rather than sending all of you one very long update to send you two shorter updates, one this week and one next week.  This week’s update will focus on nominations for Chapter Officers for next year and Commencement.

This is a very busy time for all of us, the last week of classes, getting ready to give final exams next week and the massive and time-consuming grading of final assignments and final exams.  Adding to the stress we usually feel at this time of year is the fact that this has been a difficult period of time for all of us because of the COVID epidemic.  We are still adjusting to the return to campus, many of our families and our students’ families have been impacted in negatives ways by the COVID epidemic, and we are now having to adjust our work-life balance due to the increased emphasis on our return to campus plans.

Please make sure you take some time to take care of yourself and get away from your work.  

Nominations:

As was announced in an e-mail on Monday by our Treasurer Michael LeBlanc, nominations for all elected Executive Committee positions is now open and the nominating period ends on Friday May 6.  All positions are open because, according to our constitution, we each serve a one-year term of office.  The open positions include President, Secretary, Treasurer, VP-Germantown, VP-Rockville, VP-Takoma Park/Silver Spring.  If you are interested in knowing who is currently serving in each of these positions go to mcaaup.org and then click on the Executive Committee link towards the top of the page.  A brief description of the responsibilities of each Chapter officer is located in our Constitution and that document can be accessed by clicking on the Chapter Documents link on the Chapter webpage.

If you are interested in running for a particular office or if you are interested in nominating another faculty member for a particular office, please e-mail your communication to Julie Levinson, Counseling TP/SS.  Each Chapter officer must be a dues-paying member of the Chapter, and we will verify said membership before the faculty member is added to the ballot.

Our Executive Committee meetings typically occur twice a month on Wednesday afternoons from 3:30-5:00.  Some of the Officers receive ESH, and all Officers are expected to participate in various activities throughout the academic year.  The workload is usually spread out so that no one Officer feels overwhelmed. 

My involvement in the Chapter started in 2000 when I was drafted to be the Chapter’s Chief Negotiator.  I was sent to a summer training program that was organized by our National Office, and I had a full negotiating team to work with me throughout the negotiations process.  This was an enjoyable, while at times, frustrating experience.  I was then elected to my first term as the Chapter’s President.  Since that time, with the exception of a three-year period, I have either been the President or Past President of the Chapter.

I believe it is very important for the Chapter that others in the faculty ranks learn how to do this job and that now is the time for this change to take place.  I have informed the members of the Executive Committee that I am not going to run for office for next year.  I will still be involved with Chapter leadership and Chapter activities because I will still be a member of the Executive Committee but in a different role, the Immediate Past President.  I believe that due to the complexities of this role the person who replaces me should be one of the members of the current Executive Committee.  We definitely have several members of the Executive Committee who have the ability to take on this role and manage the Chapter’s affairs. 

Commencement:

This year’s commencement will occur on the Rockville Campus on Thursday and Friday May 19 and 20.  We have all seen the announcements and call for volunteers.  This is the time of year when we want to celebrate the accomplishments of our students and attending graduation is one way we can do this.  Several e-mails have been sent to the College community with a call for volunteers and notifications about commencement.  I encourage all of you to attend at least one day of graduation.  Whether you volunteer to assist with graduation or if you decide to march in your cap and gown, our collective participation will be appreciated by the students and their families. 

Closing Meeting:

On Wednesday, May 18, we will host our end of year meeting via Zoom.  A Zoom link will be sent to all of you as we approach that date.  Our meeting will start around 11:15, and we will open the Zoom room around 11:00.  We have worked with IT and can now host over 300 people in the meeting.  The Executive Committee appreciates all who attend and participate in these meetings, and we like hearing from the membership during these meetings.  As a faculty we only get together three times a year, so please plan on attending and participating in the meeting.

On behalf of the Chapter,

Harry Z.

AAUP Update: Removal of the Student Vaccine Mandate

Colleagues:

On behalf of the three union Presidents, I am writing to inform you that Management has decided to remove the requirement that students be fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus to attend classes at Montgomery College or any on-campus services.  The administration will encourage students to be vaccinated against the virus, and students will be told that they are expected to upload their vaccination information. However, no unvaccinated students will be dropped from classes and all unvaccinated students are now welcome to take classes at MC. Meanwhile, staff and faculty remain vaccine-mandated.

The three union heads, Harry Zarin, President AAUP (MC Full-Time Faculty Union), Victoria Baldassano, Director, MC Part-Time Faculty Union (SEIU Local 500), and Lori Ulrich, President AFSCME (MC Staff Union) met with the Senior Vice Presidents last week and were formally told of this decision.  We expressed our displeasure with the decision and also with the fact that we were not consulted in advance. The decision has not yet been communicated to the employees of Montgomery College.  

While it is true that over 90% of our Montgomery County community has been vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus, Senior Management has just opened the doors of MC to the unvaccinated community. They have made the decision to make our very safe environment less safe for all of us. During a time when other colleges and cities are bringing back their mask mandates, our senior leaders have decided to toss the student vaccine mandate out the window. 

As a result of this unwise decision to change a system that was working well to protect all of us, we sent the following message to the Dr. Williams and the Senior Vice Presidents this afternoon. 

The three unions heads, Harry Zarin, President AAUP (MC Full-Time Faculty Union),Victoria Baldassano, Director, MC Part-Time Faculty Union (SEIU Local 500) , Lori Ulrich, President AFSCME (MC Staff Union) respectfully request that the College immediately cease all communications and processes around the removal of the student COVID vaccine mandate and we request that you immediately reinstitute the student vaccine mandate.  

We are deeply concerned about the impact this decision could have on the health and safety of both our constituents and our college students.  We are also deeply concerned that the unions were not consulted about the decision to remove the student vaccine mandate in advance, despite the fact this this impacts our workplace safety and that a key legal role of the unions is to help promote a healthy workspace for our constituents.  Management clearly understands the safety implications of this decision, as they maintain a vaccine mandate for all employees.

By ceasing all processes around the removal of the student mandate and reinstituting the student vaccine mandate, we hope that adequate time might be granted for the unions to properly research the topic on behalf of our constituents, to speak with our constituents about the impact this will have on them, and to begin the conversation with the administration that should have been conducted before this decision was made.

In Solidarity,

Harry Zarin, President AAUP (MC Full-Time Faculty Union) 
Victoria Baldassano, Director, MC Part-Time Faculty Union (SEIU Local 500) 
Lori Ulrich, President AFSCME (MC Staff Union)

We will keep all of you informed if and when we receive a response to our request.

AAUP Update:  Ratification of our Tentative Agreements, Executive Committee Activities, Workday, and More.

February 2022

Welcome back:

I hope all of you had a restful and healthy holiday break and that you have had a smooth start to the spring 2022 semester.  It was very nice seeing so many of you at our opening meeting last month and we look forward to seeing many of you during the spring semester at additional Chapter related meetings. 

Tentative Agreements Ratified:

I am pleased to report that our membership overwhelmingly voted to ratify the tentative agreements we reached with Management during last semester’s negotiations.  Also, the Board of Trustees voted unanimously to ratify the agreements at their January meeting.  The signed Memorandum of Agreement has been posted in the Chapter documents section of the AAUP Chapter website, mcaaup.org.   Lobbying by members of the College community will commence later this semester with visits to members of the County Council and testimony at the County’s operating budget hearings later in April.  A final vote by the County Council on our operating budget will occur later in May and that is when we will know whether we will actually receive the raise we negotiated.  If asked by our Governmental Relations Office, a member of the Executive Committee will testify at these hearings on behalf of our membership. 

Executive Committee Activities:

The end of last semester and the beginning of this semester was a very busy time for members of the Executive Committee.   We worked collaboratively with the other two union groups, SEIU which represents the part-time faculty and AFSCME which represents the bargaining unit staff, to communicate our concerns with the process that led to the selection of Dr. Williams as our next MC President and to voice our discontent with the return to face-to-face instruction during a period of time when the COVID variant was on the rise.

On December 21 Victoria Baldassano, Director SEIU, Lori Ulrich, President AFSEME, and I met with the BOT Chair Mike Knapp and Steve Cain, Chief of Staff and Chief Strategy Officer, to discuss the process that led to the selection of Dr. Williams as our next President. 

On January 10 we sent a letter of concern to senior managers voicing our concern with the return to face-to-face instruction.  Subsequent to that communication we were invited to meet with the three Senior Vice Presidents to discuss our concerns about this issue. 

On January 14 we sent a letter to the Senior Vice Presidents after we met with them, and on January 21 we sent a memo to the College community outlining our position on the College’s return to campus plans.  Each of these communications have been posted on the Chapter webpage. Please take some time to review these communications so that you can fully understand the extent of our advocacy work on behalf of the membership.

Workday:

Recently I have had several conversations with faculty members and received e-mails from a number of faculty members regarding problems they are encountering trying to process their EAP requests, prepay requisitions, and reimbursements.  HRSTM the Office of Business Services (OBS) is offering a number of zoom sessions to help everyone better understand the new processes we need to follow since the implementation of Workday in early January.  I encourage all of you to take advantage of these training opportunities.  Please see the message below that we recently received in the Employees Matters newsletter.

HRSTM and OBS Host Virtual Office Sessions for Assistance with New EAP Process in Workday

As of January 3, 2022, employees have been  able to initiate the Educational Assistance Program (EAP) request process in Workday. To support employees with this new EAP process, the Offices of Human Resources and Strategic Talent Management (HRSTM) and Business Services (OBS) have been hosting virtual office sessions this month. The next upcoming sessions are listed below:

Register to receive the Zoom meeting invitation. Once you join the Zoom meeting, you will be placed in a waiting room and receive personal assistance on a first-come, first-served basis. Please have your prepay requisition and/or reimbursement documents (i.e., invoices, receipts) saved and ready for review and to be uploaded into Workday. As a reminder, all EAP Travel is reimbursement only and therefore not eligible for prepay. Please refer to the Workday training website for more information and resources.

Below is a link to an EAP Quick Reference Guide that you also may find helpful.

https://info.montgomerycollege.edu/_documents/offices/information-technology/workday/hrstm-and-payroll/educational-assistance-program-quick-reference-guide.pdf

AAUP Strategic Planning:

As an organization made up of a small group of mostly volunteers, we take our jobs very seriously and we recognize the importance of planning for the future of the Chapter. The pool of Chapter leaders is rather small because so few people volunteer to take a leadership role in the Chapter.  Succession planning is vital for our continued strength and success as a Chapter.  I have often said at our faculty meetings that I have been doing this job for a long time and I can’t continue in this role forever.  My continuing in this role isn’t good for the Chapter. Others on the Executive Committee have also served their role for many years.  Succession planning is something that we talk about in our Executive Committee meetings on a regular basis.

Tito Baca, Secretary for the Chapter, submitted a grant application to our National Office with the hope that they would provide us with some funding to help us as we create a strategic plan for the Chapter.  I am pleased to report that the National office accepted our application and agreed to provide us with a $20,000 grant which we will use to help cover the costs we incur as we develop a strategic plan. Training for future leaders of the Chapter, revisions to our Constitution, succession planning, and training in negotiation techniques are a few of the topics that will be covered in as we plan for the future of our Chapter.  The first Faculty Forum we will sponsor will occur on Tuesday February 22 from 5:00-6:00.  An e-mail was sent to all of you earlier this week by Carrie Fitzgerald.  Please see the information below and I hope to see many of you there.

Join Zoom Meeting

https://montgomerycollege.zoom.us/j/99973869445

As the semester progresses, I encourage you to watch for more information on how you can become a more involved member of the Chapter and become a future leader in the Chapter.  If you are interested, I am sure we can find a role for you in Chapter leadership or on one of our future committees.

On behalf of the Chapter,

Harry Zarin, President AAUP

AAUP November Chapter Update

AAUP Update-Return to Campus Plans, Vaccine Mandate, Negotiations, Organizing Group Update

November 2021

Return to Campus Plans:

On November 8 all administrators, staff, and faculty counselors were expected to return to their offices five days a week and each employee can request the ability to telework one day a week.  The regular telework policy of allowing employees to telework up to three days a week has been suspended until later in the spring semester.  Whether you agree with this plan or not, we are back. 

Those of us who work in student service areas are very concerned that we are being asked to come to the office at least 4 days a week and possibly meet with current students or visitors who may be unvaccinated. The fact that instructional faculty and counseling faculty are being treated differently is problematic. Instructional faculty have been told that they can do their office hours remotely while we counseling faculty members are expected to work from our offices at least four days a week.   Despite the fact that all of us are vaccinated, we all know that breakthrough cases of COVID are being reported on a regular basis in the county and at the college.  I believe the administration is counting on the fact that the number of people in the county who are vaccinated is very high and that reduces the likelihood that we will be exposed to unvaccinated people.  We shall see if this plan works or not. 

On behalf of the faculty in the student services area I asked that this plan be revisited and that we be allowed to work with our respective Chairs/Deans to create a 5-day a week presence while at the same time allowing us to limit our individual on-campus presence.  We believe the on-campus demands of the students don’t currently require all of us to be here 5-days a week and we have the data to prove this. Despite knowing this data, the administration did not relent on their decision and we are expected to be here 5-days a week with the understanding that we can telework one day a week.  So much for saying that we are a data driven institution.

Employee Vaccine mandate:

A very important part of the return to campus plans was the Administration’s announcement that all employees, including student employees, were supposed to submit proof of their COVID vaccination to the posted website by November 8.  Requests for religious or medical exceptions were granted on an individual basis and those requests should have been submitted by October 29. 

An integral part of this return to campus plan, included the development of the Employee COVID-19 Vaccination, Safety & Disciplinary Action Protocols document.  See the attached.

employee-covid19-vaccination-compliance-protocols.pdf

Within this document are the discipline and discharge protocols the College developed for all employees who do not provide evidence of receiving their vaccination or those who do not receive a medical or religious exemption.  Several of us on the Executive Committee met with members of HRSTM a few times to help with the development of this document. It is important to note that the discipline and discharge procedures in this document do not comply with the discipline and discharge procedures specified in our contract. The Administration tried to come up with a one size fits all document, remember there are three different unions at MC, and the Administration has asked representatives for each union to sign off on a memorandum of agreement. Last week I received notification from HRSTM that 100% of the full-time faculty were fully compliant in submitting their verification of receipt of the COVID vaccination.  Based on this information I have signed off on the memorandum of agreement and submitted it to HRSTM. 

Student Vaccine Mandate:

The student vaccine mandate goes into effect on January 8 and this mandate only applies to students registered for face-to-face classes.  There is an expectation that those students who are registered for distance learning and structured remote classes who need to come to campus for student services, will also comply with the mandate.  However, there is no mechanism in place to ensure that this happens. 

On behalf of the full-time faculty I submitted a written request to Kevin Long, Chair of the RTCAT, asking that they recommend the Administration reconsider the student vaccine mandate and require that all registered students be required to submit verification of their vaccination status unless they receive a religious or medical exemption. I did this because any student can come to campus and use the services in the learning centers, the library, counseling and advising, the Financial Aid Office, etc. and no mechanism is in place to stop them if they are not vaccinated.  This policy is creating an unsafe environment for all of us.

Kevin brought my request to the senior leadership and as of the writing of this update no change has been made in the student vaccine mandate. I will continue to request that this mandate be changed whenever I meet with members of the administration.

Negotiations Update From Sharon Piper, Chief Negotiator:

Negotiations between AAUP and MC management started on Tuesday October 12. This year we are negotiating for financials (salary, overload and EAP) for the 2022-23 academic year. Both management and AAUP have brought some additional issues to the table, and we are currently in the process of sorting out which of those issues both sides are willing to discuss. In addition to negotiations, we are discussing a possible plan for a return to IBB (Interest Based Bargaining) in future negotiation sessions. The timing for this is optimal with a new management team to work with as we go forward. 

At our first session, we shared with management the 300+ signatures and support statement for the negotiating team organized by the membership. That act was much appreciated by the team and the statement and signatures have been entered into the session notes as permanent documentation of faculty support. 

We are preparing for at least three more negotiation sessions (and possibly four if needed) before the end of the semester. We will make a final report to the membership once negotiations are completed, and the contract is ready for a vote on ratification. Please reach out to any NT member if you have any questions and as always, thank you for your support. 

One final note: the negotiating team is sad to say good-bye to a longtime member, Robin Flanary, who retired from MC this past summer, and happy to welcome a new member, Carrie Fitzgerald, who joins Tito Baca, Ginger Robinson, and myself. We wanted to thank Robin for all her hard work in representing the FT faculty and AAUP, and to thank Carrie for her future time and efforts as a new member of the team. 

Organizing Group Update From Michael LeBlanc:

In September, organizers made one final push to get 300 signatures on our Negotiating Team Support Letter, and we met our goal exactly by the end of the month.  This is a fantastic achievement, and the membership deserves a pat on the back for speaking with such a strong and supportive collective voice.  The organizing email list continues to be a robust forum for collegial conversation around faculty issues.  Faculty exchange information and stories, ask questions of union leadership, and develop opportunities and strategies around faculty issues, especially return to campus issues.  For the rest of this semester and into the spring, organizing leaders will turn their attention to membership outreach, strategic planning, and election forums.  Stay tuned if you’re interested in becoming involved in these initiatives. 

The administration has to make a strong request for funding to support a raise for the employees. We are the only county funded organization that didn’t receive a raise this year. It is time for the Administration to go to bat for the employees. Declining enrollment can’t be used as an excuse to not ask for raises for us. 

ESH Limits:

Prior to the start of our winter session and spring semester I wanted to remind everyone about the ESH limits stipulated in our contracts.  When planning your winter and spring classes please remember that you may work no more than 20 ESH in any one semester, winter ESH counts towards your spring ESH load, and you may work no more than 36 ESH in any given academic year.  Exceptions to these ESH limits are granted in very rare cases by the Chapter upon request from Management. 

Future Chapter Forums:

The Executive Committee is planning on offering more Contract 101 type forums to help involve the faculty in learning more about Chapter activities, what it is like to serve in a leadership position for the Chapter, and about various articles in our Collective Bargaining Agreement.  Look for information about these forums in future Chapter updates.

Spring Opening Meeting:

In case anyone was wondering, our spring opening faculty meeting will be scheduled as a Zoom meeting.  A Zoom link will be sent out to all of you in early January.  The meeting is scheduled for the morning of Tuesday January 18 which is the day the faculty are due to return to work from the holiday break.

Meeting with Dr. Dukes:

Several weeks ago I was fortunate enough to have had an opportunity to meet with Dr. Dukes, Steve Cain, and the Presidents of the other two unions that represent the bargaining staff and the part-time faculty, Chris Standing and Victoria Baldassano.  We talked about a variety of topics that were of interest to each of us. 

During this meeting I took the opportunity to speak about our current negotiations and the fact that we are the only county funded agency that did not receive a raise this year. I stressed that it is important for our administration to fight for us and to make a very strong ask of the County and State for sufficient funds so that each of us can receive a substantial raise next year. We took the hit this year and it is another groups turn to take the hit next year. Below are examples of the raises negotiated by some of the employee groups in Montgomery County, Maryland state employees, and employees in the University System of Maryland.

  • All Montgomery County employees (union and non-union) received a 1.5% GWA (General Wage Adjustment) effective June 20, 2021.  Employee groups also received a 3.5% service increment for FY21.
  • The Montgomery County Council unanimously approved FY22 increases for MCGEO (County Employees) 3.5% or 4.75% increment plus a $1,684 GWA, FOP (Fraternal Order of the Police) 6%, and IAFF (International Association of Fire Fighters) 5%, on April 27, 2021.
  • Maryland State Government Employees-2% GWA plus a step increase
  • University System of Maryland-2% COLA plus 1.9% increment
  • MCPS Step plus 2% in FY21 and Step plus 1.5% in FY22.

I don’t care if our enrollment is down. The amount of work we are all doing and have been doing during these crazy COVID times has not decreased due to the decline in enrollment.  In fact, just about everyone I have spoken with over the past two years has said they are working more now than ever before.  We don’t mind working hard but we deserve a raise and we need to be rewarded just like any other County funded agency. 

Thank you to the members of the Negotiating Team for fighting for us during these negotiations.

Personally, I hope that all of you and your families are staying healthy during these difficult times.  Please take some time to take care of yourself, get away from work, relax, read a good book, take a vacation, and just be good to yourself.

On behalf of the Chapter,

Harry Zarin, President AAUP

AAUP Update-RTCAT Responses and the Summer Professional Development Institute

Colleagues: 

After we held our full-time faculty meeting on July 21 the Executive Committee forwarded nine questions to the RTCAT Committee.  Below are the answers the Executive Committee received from the RTCAT to our questions.   If you were unable to attend the meeting and you would like to listen/watch the meeting, go to mcaaup.org, click on the July 14 update, scroll to the bottom of the page, and you will see a link to the recording of the meeting and the appropriate password. 

On behalf of the Chapter, I would like to extend our thanks to the members of the RTCAT who attended our July 21 meeting and to the entire team for providing us with a very timely response to our questions.

Faculty Questions Submitted to RTCAT with Responses

  1. Can we dismiss students who show signs of symptoms during class? What if the student refuses to leave the classroom?
    • Faculty who observes a student with clearly observable signs of illness that are uncharacteristic for that student or may be negatively impacting that student’s or other students’ performance should discretely speak with the student and advise the student to go home if they are ill. Remember to maintain confidentiality when speaking with others about a student’s health.\
    • Students who refuse to leave the classroom and appear to pose a disruption to class or a risk to the health and safety of other students should be reported through the appropriate channels for a possible Student Code of Conduct violation. If the student poses an immediate risk to the health and safety of others, please contact Public Safety.
    • The best guidance/advice to both students and employees is to stay home if you are sick and contact your primary care physician.
    • Everyone is required to take the Daily Health Assessment – anyone with visibly observable signs of the symptoms listed should stay home. Students should contact their instructor about any missed work, and instructors should be flexible regarding excused absences including providing students the ability to make-up missed work due to illness.
    • It is recommended that instructors link to the on-campus orientation training for students via their course Blackboard page to increase awareness and empower students to self-monitor their health.
    • Please keep in mind that a cough, sneezing, or other minor symptoms are not automatically indicators of Covid-19. A student could have allergies or another chronic condition.
    • There are existing guidelines from last year that are still valid and useful for these situations.
  2. Can a faculty member dismiss class if, during class, it is discovered that someone in the classroom has tested positive for Covid?
    • Should a student notify a faculty member, or an instructor become aware that a student in class has tested positive for Covid, the instructor should discretely have a conversation with the student. If confirmed, the instructor should announce that there has been a possible infection, dismiss class, immediately notify Public Safety, and use the course Blackboard site to announce any next steps or contingency plans.
    • The first priority is to maintain classroom safety.
    • There are existing guidelines from last year that are still valid for these situations.
    • Remember to always maintain confidentiality and not identify the individual who may have tested positive.
    • There may be cases where a student mentions they were with someone who tested positive. Do not panic. This does not automatically mean that student has been exposed. A general reminder to all students to take the Daily Health Assessment, monitor themselves for symptoms, and contact their health care provider if they have any concerns.
  3. Can faculty put up plexiglass in their office when meeting with students?
    • The RTCAT does not recommend that individual faculty install plexiglass themselves as it could pose a safety risk.
    • The use of plexiglass as a safety precaution will depend on the situation.
    • The use of plexiglass in a smaller, enclosed space may limit ventilation and air circulation.
    • The best defense is still wearing a mask. Faculty who chooses to do so may request and wear a face shield via their campus facilities office.
    • The RTCAT encourages faculty to use larger, more open spaces to meet with students should they feel uncomfortable.
  4. Are there any FT faculty members or members of the AAUP on the Return to Campus Advisory Team?
    • Since the AAUP is a bargaining unit, it is not a good Labor Relations practice to specifically include unions at this level of discussion.
    • Since the RTCAT was meeting and working regularly over the summer, there was no ESH budgeted and no expectation that faculty would be expected to work over the summer.
    • There are multiple avenues for faculty involvement, especially as we get closer to the start of the semester and the resumption of governance activities.
    • Faculty are welcome and invited to submit questions and topics for discussion to the RTCAT, invite members of the RTCAT to attend meetings, and form committees with RTCAT representatives, if so desired, to assist in creating and vetting classroom guidelines.
  5. Will MC require vaccinations at some point?
    • Yes, MC will require vaccinations once the FDA has given full approval. Currently, there is only one appellate court case that has upheld a vaccine mandate at an institution of higher education.
    • Upon FDA approval, students and employees will have 60 days from the date of approval to get vaccinated to be on campus.
    • Discussions are currently underway on how the College will monitor and track vaccination status, possibly using a third-party vendor.
    • It is anticipated that vaccinations will be required in the spring, pending FDA approval.
    • We are also monitoring actions at the county level, including negotiations with county collective bargaining units on mandatory vaccines.
  6. What should we do to maintain social distance in the classroom? What do we do if the classroom does not allow us to maintain an appropriate 6 feet of distance in the classroom?
    • Currently, the College has suspended social distancing guidelines pursuant to county, state, and CDC guidelines.
    • The current best protection against the spread of Covid are vaccinations and masks. The College has reinstituted its mask mandate effective August 2. Each campus has an allotment of 5,000 cloth masks that will be distributed and available in classroom scheduled for use this fall.
    • Most in-person classes were scheduled this past spring with a cap of 12-14 students.
    • In situations where social distancing is not possible, masks and sanitizing are still effective protections. Students and instructors should avoid, when possible, congregating in large groups.
  7. What sorts of signage will be provided to promote public safety?
    • There will be a large array of signage in all buildings on all campuses reminding people to wear a mask, get vaccinated, and follow basic hygiene protocols.
    • The focus is primarily on county metrics, since most of our students are in-county residents; however, we do consider proximity to other jurisdictions and that data in making decisions. Please note that our decision-making authority is somewhat limited by what is happening in the county and any restrictions or flexibility that the county may put into place.
    • The College and the RTCAT examine county and regional metrics daily for changes and concerns.
    • While we do look at global trends, the CDC has recommended localized decision-making and local data in making decisions.
  8. How might the college provide return to campus guidelines unique to the classroom setting?
    • A dedicated Faculty FAQ is currently being developed with input from faculty and RTCAT.
    • There is a faculty-led group developing classroom guidelines consistent with all collegewide guidance.
    • Additionally, standardized syllabi template language is also being developed by faculty with input from RTCAT.

Summer Professional Development Institute:

Many of us participated in the Summer Professional Development Institute.  If you participated in the Institute and want to receive the $1,850 stipend, you need to submit an Action Plan that is reflective of your learning by August 15, 2021.  Below is an e-mail follow-up that we all received from Paul Miller on August 4 regarding this requirement. 

Thank you for your active participation in the Summer Professional Development Institute. 

Just a friendly reminder, you are required to submit an online Action Plan reflective of your learning at the end of your chosen Learning Pathway to be eligible for the Summer Institute Stipend. The Action Plan can be found by clicking on this link. The Action Plan should take you up to one hour to complete and is due on or before August 15, 2021. 

If you have already submitted your Action Plan, please disregard this email. 

The Action Plan contains three sections. An outline of the Action Plan is below – please do not reply to this email with your action plan included in the table. Once you submit your Action Plan through the web, an email will be sent to you to confirm receipt. 

Section  Purpose Questions Asked Note 
Personal Information What is your M#?  Include the M at the beginning of your number. 
Learning Pathway Which Learning Pathway did you participate in?

 

 
You will select one of the three learning pathways – Dialogue Circle, Series, or Workshop.   If you select the Workshop Learning Pathway, you will be asked to identify the sessions that you did and did not attend.  

How would you rate your Learning Pathway learning experience? You can select up to 5 stars (1 being the worst) 
SMART Goal and Action Plan What is your goal? Create a goal and action plan to apply the summer learning into your professional context. To make sure your goals are clear and reachable, each one should be: Specific (simple, sensible, significant). Measurable (meaningful, motivating). Achievable (agreed, attainable). Realistic and Timely. 
What do you need to do to achieve your goal? Be as specific as possible. Focus on the things you can control. 
How will you identify your success? Be as specific as possible. What data can be collected to provide you with feedback on your desired outcome? 
By when do you need to complete the tasks identified in question 5? Be as specific as possible. Remember, this action plan is self-monitored. You are accountable to YOURSELF. 
What or who can help you complete your tasks identified in question 5? Be as specific as possible. Remember, you have a professional network and systems of support (e.g., deans, department chairs, ELITE, etc.)
What additional PD will you engage in to support your goal (PD topics should be chosen from the connections made in your Learning Pathway). Be as specific as possible. ELITE will use this information to identify new PD topics for the upcoming year. ELITE will evaluate all responses and generalize them into new topics or existing opportunities. 
Would you like for ELITE to contact you about your goal progress throughout the Fall semester? If you select yes, a member of the ELITE team will contact you throughout the fall to discuss your progress.  
Do you have another goal you would like to work on? If you select no, you can submit your responses, and you are done with the Action Plan.   If you select yes, you can repeat Section 3, and set up to two more goals reflective of your summer learning.  

Please let me know if you have any questions. 

Dr. Paul D. Miller
Professional Development Director 
Montgomery College
Office of E-Learning, Innovation & Teaching Excellence (ELITE)
Mannakee Building #325J
Rockville, MD 20850
Cell: (717) 602-3304

As our summer vacation/work comes to a close, we are all making plans for a partial return to campus to teach, counsel, and advise our students.  It is important that we all take care of ourselves, both mentally and physically, during this continued unusual period in our MC lives.  We also need to remember how stressful this period of time has been and will continue to be for our students. Many have lost jobs, income, family members, and friends, and they are trying to figure out how they are going to continue being a student and take classes, whether they are remote or f2f.  If there was ever a time for us to be flexible, compassionate, and understanding with our students and our colleagues, now is the time.  Please don’t hesitate to refer students to a counselor if you feel a student is in need of assistance or to seek assistance for yourself.

On behalf of the Chapter,

Harry Z.

Harry N. Zarin, Professor/Counselor

President-AAUP

AAUP Update-Full Faulty Meeting Follow-up and Questions for the RTCAT

August 2021

Colleagues:

On July 21 over 100 faculty members Zoomed into our first ever summer meeting of the full-time faculty.  The conversations that occurred during this meeting focused on the return to campus plans that had been announced by the Administration.  We had our own panel of experts (Collins Jones, Biotechnology-Germantown, Lori Kelman, Biotechnology-Germantown, Jennifer Capparella, Natural Sciences Department Chair- Germantown, and Melissa Sprague, Health Sciences Department Chair-TP/SS) on hand to respond to our questions and concerns.  Towards the end of the meeting three members of the Administration’s Return to Campus Coronavirus Advisory Team (Kim Kelly, Vice President and Provost-Rockville, Monique Davis, Dean of Health Sciences, Kevin Long, Chair of the RTCAT) were there to provide us with their insights into what is happening on the Committee. They also responded to several of our questions and concerns.  We are very appreciative that these employees participated in our meeting.

The meeting was recorded so that faculty who were not able to attend the meeting could still hear what was discussed during the meeting.  If you are interested in listening to the meeting, please go to the Chapter’s website, mcaaup.org, click on the link to my July 14, 2021 update, and scroll to the bottom of the page.  The link to the recording has been posted there along with the access passcode that you need to enter in order to listen to the recording.

It is important to note that information the Administration uses to make decisions regarding the COVID virus change almost daily. For example, since our meeting, the Administration has reinstituted the mask mandate based on new guidance received by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and in consultation with MCs Return-to-Campus Advisory Committee.  

Below is the list of the questions that were asked during the meeting along with responses and recommendations that were discussed by our panel of experts and the RTCAT members. 

Below the list of faculty questions and recommendations that were discussed during our meeting is a separate list of questions that the Executive Committee forwarded to the RTCAT.  We will provide you with their responses as soon as we receive them.

Return to Campus

Faculty Questions and Recommendations

As more of us plan to return to campus in the fall, we appreciate the work college leadership has done to keep the college and community informed through the online resources of the coronavirus information page. A great deal of valuable information is available there.

The purpose of this set of faculty questions and recommendations is to serve as a supplement to the information already available. Faculty offices and classrooms represent a context with distinctive concerns that likely require their own set of guidelines.

The questions and recommendations in this document were collected widely through both the faculty email list and a summer union meeting with over 100 attendees, including members of the CAT and RTCAT, who graciously accepted our invitations.

This document serves, then, to accomplish three goals:

  • to provide faculty with the responses to their questions and concerns that we have already collected.
  • to seek answers and solutions from college leadership to unanswered questions.
  • to propose viable recommendations from the faculty perspective where appropriate.

I. Questions with Guidance from College

  1. Will college be transparent about ventilation systems especially since some rooms do not have windows?

Information about the current approaches the college is taking to cleaning and ventilation:

https://www.montgomerycollege.edu/coronavirus/employees/faqs.htm

2. Will faculty know class seat size in advance?

This is the answer from college leadership via email to union leadership:

“Class size numbers were established based on the health and safety conditions (metrics) at the time the schedule was developed.  Once Montgomery County’s health and safety conditions (metrics) improved, classes that transitioned from remote to f2f did so without a change in the class size capacity.  Many remote sections were converted with a class size capacity of 12 to 14 students.  The sections added to provide more f2f options are also capped at 12 to 14 students.  During the duration of an on-campus course, we will not change the class size — even if metrics improve.  If necessary, we will meet student demand for on-campus courses by adding sections with the same 12 to 14 class size capacity.“

3. Might a course section return to remote if an instructor feels it is not safe?

Kevin Long indicated that sections cannot be switched permanently back to a remote class if it is listed as face-to-face. However, he indicated that an emergency and temporary shift to remote for a given section during the semester could be an option

4. If someone tests positive, what is the required procedure for the entire college community?

If someone has tested positive for COVID, that person should contact Public Safety at publicsafety@montgomerycollege.edu or 240-567-3333. If in contact with someone who has tested positive for more than 15 minutes without a mask, those individuals should contact Public Safety as well. It was suggested that faculty include this information in their syllabus.

5.Will the college be flexible if circumstances change and they need to change COVID policies?

Melissa Sprague indicated that the CAT has done this in the past, and she does not see any reason why they will not continue to reevaluate circumstances and make changes as needed. There may be emergency pivots to remote learning that are temporary on a case-by-case basis.

6.How flexible can we be on attendance if students are not feeling well?

Faculty are urged to be flexible so that students do not feel forced to come to campus when they feel ill. Showing flexibility while upholding standards of attendance will be a careful balancing act for each instructor.

7. Will the college provide masks and other PPE for faculty and students?

From the coronavirus information page:

Are we going to receive personal protective equipment (PPE) for all lasses/students/employees from Facilities or should each department order them? 

Yes. Upon request, Facilities will have gloves, face shields, and hand sanitizer for employees of the College community. Masks are available for all who need them and available at the Public Safety office on each campus and the CT building. 

How will we be provided with PPE by Facilities? Are employees supposed to contact Facilities?

Requests for PPE should first be sent to your department supervisor for evaluation. Upon approval, department supervisor or designee can submit the PPE request to the Facilities Service Desk. For off-site locations, such as the Community Engagement Centers and Gaithersburg Training Center, PPE can be picked up from the closest/preferred campus.   

Also, this is what the college has stated in one of their responses to union questions about this issue: “Masks and disinfecting wipes will be available in all classrooms.“ There are some questions about how this will be done and whether facilities will keep these supplies well stocked.

8. Are we going to be required to return to campus for meetings?

We have not heard yet, but we do know that there will be a face-to-face and remote option for the opening meeting. Our union meeting will be remote only. We do know that there is a face-to-face meeting scheduled at Germantown with about 80 participants so they may be waiting to see how that goes before making a final decision on a collegewide meeting guideline might be for the fall. Monique Davis said that they will be meeting soon to explore this further.

9. Will Professional Week trainings be available online? Will there be trainings that deal with COVID specifically?

Kim Kelley said that she would take this back to RTCAT.

10. Are there any FT faculty members or members of the AAUP on the Return to Campus Advisory Team?

There are currently no faculty members on the Return to Campus Advisory Team. Kevin Long did not have an explanation as to why.

11. Will MC require vaccinations at some point?

The RTCAT did today pass on their recommendation to do so to the next level, but it remains to be seen how Management will do this, what the verification process will be, how we would handle those circumstances where students cannot / will not get vaccinated.

The following set of questions and recommendations was sent to the RTCAT.  We will post the responses we receive from the RTCAT on the Chapter webpage. 

Return to Campus

Faculty Questions for the RTCAT

and Recommendations

  • Current available information is in blue font.
  • Faculty recommendations are highlighted in green.
  1. Can we dismiss students who show signs of symptoms during class? What if the student refuses to leave the classroom?

Faculty Recommendation:

If a faculty member is concerned that a student is coming to class when they appear ill, it seems appropriate to show the same kind of sympathy one might show to anyone who is ill and politely and discreetly suggest that they go home and get some rest. Explain to the student that they will not be penalized and that the instructor will work with the student to make up any missed assignments.

In the case that a student appears to exhibit symptoms of Covid but wishes to remain in the classroom, the college should think through possible Covid exposure conditions and procedures. The classroom is an indoor space where faculty and students are expected to stay and work; they are not as free to leave as other public spaces, making the classroom a unique space when considering possible Covid exposure.

Currently, the FAQ says that if an employee is concerned that a fellow employee is exhibiting COVID symptoms, they should contact their supervisor. If a student is exhibiting possible COVID symptoms and wishes to remain in the classroom, is there somebody to contact? Should the class continue as scheduled? Is there some way to mitigate student and faculty discomfort around the fear of exposure in these situations?

It would be useful to create a clear syllabus addendum: Public Safety contact info, self-reporting guidelines, outline of COVID symptoms, reminder to update contact info for tracing purposes, and procedures to follow for classroom situations where there is a potential exposure to COVID.

  • Can a faculty member dismiss class if, during class, it is discovered that someone in the classroom has tested positive for COVID?

We know that Public Safety needs to be notified in the situation, but what other procedures should be followed in the actual classroom?

Faculty Recommendation:

A faculty member should be free to dismiss class immediately on a given day if it is discovered that someone in the classroom has tested positive for Covid.

  • Can faculty put up plexiglass in their office when meeting with students?

The college already has some plexiglass barriers in appropriate places:

https://www.montgomerycollege.edu/coronavirus/employees/faqs.html

Faculty Recommendation:

The college should provide plexiglass barriers for faculty who request it. If the college will not provide these barriers, faculty should be able to put up these barriers if they wish. There needs to be very clear instruction for how does a faculty member can request plexiglas barriers for their office or classroom.

10. Are there any FT faculty members or members of the AAUP on the Return to Campus Advisory Team?

There are currently no faculty members on the Return to Campus Advisory Team. Kevin Long did not have an explanation as to why.

Faculty Recommendation:

We recommend that faculty from a range of disciplines be included on the RT Covid Advisory Team, and at least one member of the AAUP Executive Committee. There are issues in classrooms and offices that would be on the forefront of the faculty mind but might be overlooked by non-faculty leadership. Faculty should be considered a valuable resource in this regard.

11. Will MC require vaccinations at some point?

The RTCAT did today pass on their recommendation to do so to the next level, but it remains to be seen how Management will do this, what the verification process will be, how we would handle those circumstances where students cannot / will not get vaccinated.

Faculty Recommendation:

The faculty largely support a vaccination requirement for those who can / should receive it. Use Castle Branch software to verify and collect vaccination records.

  • What should we do to maintain social distance in the classroom? What do we do if the classroom does not allow us to maintain an appropriate 6 feet of distance in the classroom?

Currently, many face-to-face classes already have smaller enrollment caps to allow for social distancing, but some do not, sometimes because the classroom layout in a room like a lab may limit social distancing options, and sometimes because the class was created when the safety standards were different.

Faculty Recommendation:

Classroom enrollment should be capped at a number that allows for social distancing. Students should space themselves around the classroom, whenever possible, to maintain social distance.

  • What sorts of signage will be provided to promote public safety?

Faculty Recommendation:

To promote social distancing, decals on the floors of classrooms, waiting areas, restrooms, bus queues, and so forth could be provided indicating safe distances. Decals can be placed on the desks in classrooms to promote socially distanced seating. We recommend putting signs outlining symptoms, safety procedures, and Public Safety contact info in the following locations:

  • Parking lots.
  • Building entrances.
  • Common areas within buildings.
  • Elevator lobbies.
  • Entrances to classrooms and instructional spaces
  • How much will the college look beyond our county to gather information on global trends and what is the process used by the college to develop policies?

Faculty Recommendation:

Because Montgomery College draws from areas outside of Montgomery County for its student population, broader metrics should be considered when making Covid policies.

  • How might the college provide return to campus guidelines unique to the classroom setting?

Faculty Recommendation:

In addition to the syllabus addendum, we believe there needs to be a separate faculty FAQ on the Coronavirus Response and Return to Campus webpage. It would be particularly helpful to include particular classroom scenarios (What if a student refuses to wear a mask? What if a student exhibits COVID symptoms?) with guidelines for how to resolve each scenario.

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: Spring Meeting

Colleagues:

Welcome back for another interesting semester of work at MC.  I hope that all of you are healthy and that you were able to get some much needed rest over the holiday break.

I am writing to remind all of you that on Tuesday morning, January 19, we will be holding a virtual faculty meeting for all full-time faculty members who are members of the bargaining unit. Department Chairs, one-semester temporary faculty, and faculty whose positions are grant funded are not part of the bargaining unit.  You do not have to be a member of the AAUP Chapter in order to attend this meeting.

On behalf of the AAUP Chapter, an e-mail with a Zoom link was sent to you earlier today from Julie Levinson.  This is your invitation to attend the meeting.  At the meeting we will provide you with information about negotiations that occurred this past fall, we will hold a vote on the tentative agreement that was reached, we will discuss the Contract 101 sessions we offered last semester, and we will talk about our upcoming Contract 101 sessions and more.  We will also take some time to hear your comments, concerns, and questions.  

Last fall 300 faculty members attended our opening meeting.  Thanks to Julie Levinson’s advocacy and hard work, this semester we have been allowed to increase the number of faculty members who can attend our Zoom meeting from 300-500. We hope that a large number of you will take the time to participate in the meeting next week.  Again, we will allow ample time for you to express your opinions and concerns about issues that are important to you and your colleagues.

The meeting will begin at 11:15 but we will open up the Zoom room around 11:00am.

I look forward to seeing many of you at the meeting.

On behalf of the Chapter,

Harry Z.

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

AAUP Update: A Thanksgiving Update

As we embark upon a Thanksgiving Holiday like we have never seen before, I want to wish all of you, on behalf of the Executive Committee, a healthy and well deserved holiday break.  I hope you are able to take some time over the break to take care of the physical and mental health of yourself and your family. Get away from your computer, exercise, spend some time outside, and try to do some things that you haven’t had time to do this semester.  Most importantly, just try to relax.

A quick note for all of us to remember.  How cool is it that some of the very first responders and medical professionals in our communities treating us for this terrible virus and protecting us are MC employees and graduates. We are as grateful for them as they are for us.

On Wednesday evening, November 11 members of our Negotiating Team (Sharon Piper, Tito Baca, Robin Flanary, and Ginger Robinson) hosted our first Contract 101 session.  During this Zoom session they covered several parts of our Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA): Articles 2 (Management Functions), 4 (Faculty Appointments), and 5 (Faculty Workload) The 30 or so faculty in attendance had a robust discussion about each of these articles. 

On Wednesday evening December 9 (time TBA), we will offer our second Contract 101 session which will cover Article 6 (Leaves of Absence), Article 7 (Chapter Rights), and Article 8 (Salary), in our CBA. 

Our goal in hosting these sessions is to help all of you become better informed about our CBA, the role of the Chapter, and the Executive Committee. Most importantly, we want you to recognize that we support all bargaining unit members of the full-time faculty whether you are a full dues paying member of the Chapter, paying the voluntary collective bargaining service fee, or you are getting the benefits of our services and paying nothing.  As I mentioned in my last update, succession planning is very important for our Chapter and we hope that by becoming better informed that some of you will consider taking a leadership role in the Chapter in the future.

In addition to our January opening meeting, we will continue to host additional informative sessions during the spring semester.  After a robust and healthy conversation among us and several of our constituents concerning how we, as an Executive Committee, could respond to the nationwide discussion of social justice and racial equity, we have decided to host a session on social justice and racial equity at MC. Our goal is to facilitate a collaborative conversation that helps us understand how we can better represent the faculty and helps all of you understand how you can better support each other.

It is important for all of you to know that our primary role as an Executive Committee is to represent all of you, protect all of you, and protect our union interests by protecting our contract. This is our primary mission at MC.  For this reason, our Chapter has never issued a statement in support of any social movement, political movement, political party, or candidate.  However, we do believe that Black lives matter, and for us this affirmation means that our faculty of color have a right to thrive at MC and not just survive.  If any faculty member believes they are experiencing unequal treatment due their race, gender, sexual orientation, or faith, we stand ready to support you in your fight for equality and social justice. 

Again, I hope you have an enjoyable and restful Thanksgiving holiday.

On behalf of the Chapter,

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.