September 28, 2022

Call for nominations for MC-AAUP Executive Committee (Deadline Friday, May 6, 2022)

Dear fellow faculty,

Thank you for all you do to support the union. Please consider participating in our nomination and voting process over the next few weeks. Here’s the timeline:

Nominations: We are accepting nominations for the following Executive Committee positions: President, Vice-President for each campus, Treasurer, and Secretary. The nominations period will end on Friday, May 6. Please consider nominating an appropriate candidate for a position. Self-nominations are welcome. More information about our nomination and voting process is available in our Constitution, which you can find on the MC-AAUP website. Please send your nominations to Julie Levinson, julie.levinson@montgomerycollege.edu

Please find the linked description of each open Executive Committee position: President, Vice-President for each campus, Treasurer, and Secretary. Any AAUP member collegewide may nominate someone for the positions of President, Treasurer, and Secretary. Only AAUP members on a particular campus may nominate someone for their respective campus Vice-President position. Please check with the person you would like to nominate before sending their name forward.

Voting: After the nomination process, you will have the opportunity to vote for the officers who will represent you. This step does not take much time, but is one of the most significant actions you might take for the union because you are choosing your leadership. Electronic voting will begin on May 12 and will end on May 17.

End-of-the-year meeting, May 18, by Zoom. The results of the election will be announced at this closing meeting. Your attendance at the year’s-end meeting is not only an opportunity to receive crucial information and vote on contract-related issues, but your participation is also a marker of an engaged membership.

Thank you again for all that you do for our college, for our students, and for our chapter.

In solidarity and on behalf of the chapter,

Michael LeBlanc, PhD

Acting Treasurer, AAUP, MC Chapter

AAUP Update: Negotiations Primer- next week! Please join us!

Dear FT Faculty colleagues, 

Good evening! 

The AAUP negotiating team will be sponsoring a “Negotiations Primer” to be held on Zoom on Wednesday May 4 from 3-4:30 pm, with Monica Owens, a trainer from AAUP National. Monica is joining us to discuss both traditional and interest-based methods of bargaining, the process of negotiation,  and strategies to increase effectiveness at the bargaining table. This primer will be a good introduction to the work of the negotiating team.  We are moving rapidly towards the negotiation of the full contract in fall 2023. To that end, we will be expanding membership on the negotiating team over the next year, so if you have ever thought about, or been curious, about negotiations, please join us at this forum! 

A zoom link/invitation will be sent out with a reminder later this week. Please let us know if you have any questions, and we look forward to seeing you at our final AAUP forum for this spring 2022 semester. 

Thanks as always for your continued support and trust as we represent you in collective bargaining for our union contract. 

For the Chapter, 

The AAUP Negotiating team- 

Sharon Piper, Lead
Tito Baca
Carrie Fitzgerald

AAUP: Strategic Plan Meeting (3/2/22)

AAUP Update: Letter of Concern (2/18/22)

Dear Full-Time Faculty Colleagues,

For several weeks, Lori Ulrich, President of the MC staff union (AFSCME Local 2380), Victoria Baldassano, Director of the MC Part-Time Faculty Union (SEIU Local 500), and myself, have been discussing and analyzing the Board of Trustees’ decision to hire Dr. Jermaine Williams as MC’s next president despite a public letter of discontent critical of him. The letter was “signed by the elected leaders of the faculty unions, department chairs, and Academic Senate” from Nassau Community College where Dr. Willams had served as president.

In the process of our deliberation, we have more carefully analyzed the letter of discontent, listened to testimony by Nassau Community College faculty members critical of Dr. Williams, reviewed public comments by the BOT that correlate serious views of union leaders with those of “disgruntled employees,” and discussed in general the process undertaken by the presidential search committee.  

In the attached letter signed by the three of us, “we have reached consensus that the process resulting in the selection of Dr. Williams was flawed.” While the selection of Dr. Williams as MC’s president is not going to change, we felt it important to assert that this process resulted in a decision that is unsatisfactory to the unions at MC.

I ask all of you to read the letter linked here and decide where you stand.  Thank you!

On behalf of the Chapter,

Harry Z.

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 Update: AAUP Online Faculty Forum (2/22/22)

Dear Faculty,

Our chapter of the AAUP is looking for passionate faculty members (like you!) to share thoughts and ideas on how we can make our union/labor group the best it can be as we develop a Strategic Plan that benefits us all. We’d love for you to join us during our first Faculty Forum of the Spring 2022 semester. We will use the time to discuss your visions for our future as well as what actions we can take to make our workplace more satisfying, equitable, and meaningful.

Join Zoom Meeting

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

Meeting ID: 999 7386 9445
One tap mobile
+13017158592,,99973869445# US (Washington DC)
+19292056099,,99973869445# US (New York)

AAUP Update: Union Dissent on Face-to-Face Instruction

From: Baldassano, Victoria A
Sent: Friday, January 21, 2022 10:21 AM
To: Full-Time Faculty <Full-TimeFaculty@montgomerycollege.edu>; Part-Time Faculty TP/SS <Part-timeFacultyTP_SS@montgomerycollege.edu>; Part-Time Faculty GT <Part-timeFacultyGT@montgomerycollege.edu>; Part-Time Faculty RV <Part-TimeFacultyRV@montgomerycollege.edu>; Takoma Park Staff <TPStaff@montgomerycollege.edu>; Rockville Staff <RVStaff@montgomerycollege.edu>; Germantown Staff <GTStaff@montgomerycollege.edu>
Cc: Collette, Sherwin A <Sherwin.Collette@montgomerycollege.edu>; Brown, Monica R <monica.brown@montgomerycollege.edu>; Rai, Sanjay K <sanjay.rai@montgomerycollege.edu>; Anne McLeer <mcleera@seiu500.org>; Tropin, Mitchell J <mitchell.tropin@montgomerycollege.edu>; Edwards, Cynthia A <cynthia.edwards@montgomerycollege.edu>; Wilson, Priscilla M <priscilla.wilson@montgomerycollege.edu>; Sawyerr, Elizabeth M <elizabeth.sawyerr@montgomerycollege.edu>; Benton, Elizabeth M <elizabeth.benton@montgomerycollege.edu>; Weston, Charmaine L <charmaine.weston@montgomerycollege.edu>
Subject: Union Dissent on Face-to-Face Instruction
Importance: High

Dear MC Colleagues,

Over the past two weeks, representatives of your Full-Time Faculty Union (AAUP), your Part-Time Faculty Union (SEIU Local 500), and your Staff Union (AFSCME), have been talking with members of the administration regarding our concerns about a return to face-to-face instruction this semester. We presented our issues via email and in two Zoom meetings with three representatives of the administration: Sherwin Collette, Senior Vice President for Administrative and Fiscal Services, Monica Brown, Senior Vice President for Student Affairs, and Sanjay Rai, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs.  

To protect MC students and employees from the very contagious Omicron variant, we requested that the college convert most of its face-to-face courses to structured remote for a limited period at the beginning of the spring semester, perhaps 1 to 4 weeks, before gradually easing back into face-to-face instruction. Local universities and several major school systems around the country are trying this approach, including MCPS. We conferred with our union Executive Committees, and we polled our members during union meetings held Jan. 18. Although a vocal minority disagreed with our approach, an overwhelming number of members of all three unions supported our proposal

Unfortunately, the administration rejected our request.  We have read the directive from Interim President Charlene Dukes. We understand the administration’s rationale and will comply with the decision. However, we respectfully disagree.  

While we can all celebrate the recent decline in cases in Northeast cities such as New York and Washington, D.C., it would be a mistake to think that Omicron is about to disappear. This dip in case numbers is happening even as Omicron continues to produce “more than 800,000 new infections” each day, the New York Times Coronavirus database reported. “About 150,000 coronavirus patients are hospitalized nationwide, more than at any previous point in the pandemic” while…“1,900 deaths are being announced each day, a 50 percent increase over the last two weeks.” 

We would also caution our colleagues not to embrace the notion that Omicron is a “mild” form of COVID.  As Katherine J. Wu noted in the Atlantic, “That the variant is less of a danger too often gets misconstrued as the variant is not a danger at all.” A healthy, vaccinated and boosted MC instructor who recently contracted the virus remarked that it seemed like having a mild form of the flu. He was looking forward to getting back in the classroom. But Montgomery College has a very diverse workforce, and Omicron has created an unfortunate dichotomy between younger and older employees, and between those who are relatively healthy and those who have (or whose family members have) medical conditions that could make exposure to Omicron dangerous or fatal.  

At the very least, we think the administration should show more flexibility toward employees who cannot or should not be teaching or providing services face-to-face this semester.  Instead, in its enthusiasm to return to in-person teaching, the college has denied requests from several employees to teach remotely – particularly part-time faculty members.  These include a 78-year-old instructor with a medical condition who has been teaching remotely for several semesters and an award-winning art instructor who has a child with multiple disabilities and a seizure disorder. To protect her child from Omicron, this instructor requested a medical accommodation to teach remotely, which was denied because the accommodation applies to employees only. Montgomery College has done an admirable job in promoting social and racial justice, but a policy such as this ends up discriminating against caretakers (mostly women) of family members with disabilities. Names of these employees have been provided to the administration. 

We are pleased about the vaccine mandate for students, but booster shots are the most effective defense against Omicron, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recently vaccinated students will have to wait “at least 5 months after completing [their] primary COVID-19 vaccination series” to get a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna booster shot.   

We are also pleased that the college will have KN95 masks, but we request that there be sufficient masks available for ALL students and employees who want them. 

Finally, we wish the best of luck to those who will be teaching or offering in-person counseling or other services to students or MC employees this semester.  If you have any issues or concerns that cannot be answered by your chair, dean, or supervisor, please do not hesitate to reach out to the representatives of your unions.  We will do our best to get back to you as soon as possible. 

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) 

Chris Standing, Immediate Past President AFSCME 

AAUP Update: Follow-Up to Meeting with SVPs and MC Union Leaders

From: Zarin, Harry
Sent: Friday, January 14, 2022 4:44 PM
To: Rai, Sanjay K <sanjay.rai@montgomerycollege.edu>; Brown, Monica R <monica.brown@montgomerycollege.edu>; Collette, Sherwin A <Sherwin.Collette@montgomerycollege.edu>
Cc: Ulrich, Lori A <Lori.Ulrich@montgomerycollege.edu>; Standing, Christopher G <chris.standing@montgomerycollege.edu>; Baldassano, Victoria A <victoria.baldassano@montgomerycollege.edu>
Subject: Follow-up to Our Meeting

Monica, Sanjay, and Sherwin:

Thank you for taking the time to review our memo of concern and for having a meeting with us yesterday during this very busy time. We appreciate the open discussion and the fact that you gave serious attention to what you described as our “legitimate concerns.”

In the area of telework, we understand, as Sherman stated, that you “encourage flexible work schedules” and will ask supervisors to honor the policy that was originally agreed to for staff and counseling faculty.

Most importantly, we appreciate the fact that you heard our request that all face-to-face classes (except hands-on labs and a small list of other classes) be changed to structured remote for a period of time, possibly two to four weeks, until case numbers, hospitalization, and other factors in Montgomery County indicate that it is safe to proceed with in-person instruction. We understand that the administration is monitoring conditions and COVID infection rates in the area and uses this information to help make informed decisions.

Moving forward, however, we have one concern that we feel was not fully addressed at yesterday’s meeting.  It has been said in a number of meetings that we are a data-driven institution. We use data to make decisions that are in the best interests of the students and the employees. Classes start in two weeks. Only 40% of the students registered for face-to-face classes have submitted their vaccination records and have had those records processed by the vendor. We recognize that another 4,000 students have submitted their records, but those have not been processed yet. What are the magic numbers that need to be reached before the administration announces that we are switching face-to-face classes to structured remote for a temporary period of time because a sufficient number of students haven’t submitted their records or submitted records haven’t been processed?   We expect that there would be some exceptions to the requirement that face-to-face classes switch to remote; lab science and so on.

Unfortunately, all our efforts to encourage students to do their part to help protect themselves and this community may not work, and a decision has to be made sooner rather than later about moving face-to-face classes to structured remote. Requiring everyone to prepare for SRT formatted classes a weekend prior to the start of classes, for example, is unprofessional and disrespectful to the faculty and the student service areas.  Most importantly, students need time to adjust to this temporary switch from face-to-face to structured remote.  Advance/early communication regarding the numbers and the plan to respond to those numbers affects more than just the classroom; a myriad of student services will be impacted and may need to be shifted, even if partially, to remote for a period of time as well.  We have demonstrated that we can turn on a dime and serve students well in the process, but it does not come without anxiety and loss of morale.  The ability to plan should not be undervalued.

MCPS, local colleges. and colleges and universities around the country have already announced a delay in having students come to campus to take classes and they are starting their semester in a remote format. We need to continue to take the necessary steps to protect our employees and we are hopeful that at the opening meeting we will hear something other than what we have already heard.

Thank you,

Lori Ulrich, President AFSCME

Victoria Baldassano, Director SEIU

Chris Standing, Immediate Past President AFSCME Harry Zarin, President AAUP

AAUP Update: Letter of Concern from MC Union Presidents to SVPs and Provosts

From: Zarin, Harry
Sent: Monday, January 10, 2022 2:20 PM
To: Rai, Sanjay K <sanjay.rai@montgomerycollege.edu>; Collette, Sherwin A <Sherwin.Collette@montgomerycollege.edu>; Brown, Monica R <monica.brown@montgomerycollege.edu>
Cc: Cain, Stephen D <stephen.cain@montgomerycollege.edu>; Payne, George M <george.payne@montgomerycollege.edu>; Latimer, Margaret W <margaret.latimer@montgomerycollege.edu>; Stewart, Brad J <brad.stewart@montgomerycollege.edu>; Kelley, Kimberly B <kimberly.kelley@montgomerycollege.edu>; Standing, Christopher G <chris.standing@montgomerycollege.edu>; Baldassano, Victoria A <victoria.baldassano@montgomerycollege.edu>
Subject: Letter of Concern

All:

I am sending this e-mail to all of you on behalf of the MC Presidents of AAUP, AFSCME, the Director of SEIU, and our constituents.  

We are very appreciative of all the Administration has done to help protect Montgomery College employees and students since the start of the pandemic. Providing us with appropriate training and technology has allowed us to perform our jobs from remote locations, and this has been beneficial for all of us, and most importantly, for our students. From the moment the college switched to remote instruction following spring break 2020, we have proven our flexibility as well as our dedication to the college’s mission. We accepted the challenges of embracing emerging technology, participating in necessary training, and providing high quality instruction and remote services to all of our students. 

We also appreciate the efforts of senior leadership, in consultation with the Return-to-Campus Advisory Committee, to follow COVID-19 trends and other factors in determining the operational status of the college. However, it has become increasingly difficult to make decisions and plans based on a moving target. Information we receive about COVID may change multiple times over a period of days, and this makes it especially difficult to create a coherent schedule of classes for students and instructors. Omicron continues to spread rapidly throughout the state and hospitals are reaching capacity.  In fact, Gov. Larry Hogan recently noted that “the next four to six weeks are really going to be a terrible point in this crisis” (Delkic).

We all need to be flexible and willing to adjust at a moment’s notice during this ever-changing pandemic. Unfortunately, it appears that in some cases the Administration has abandoned flexibility in favor of expediency. Suspending a long-standing telework policy and requiring all staff, administrators, and counseling faculty to be on campus four days a week makes no sense.  We have shown since the start of the pandemic that we are capable of performing our jobs from remote locations while providing student services, teaching, and counseling students, and protecting ourselves against ever-rising COVID numbers and mutations of the virus. We ask that the Administration immediately restore the telework policy that allows eligible MC employees to work from a remote location up to three days a week. A return to this policy will enable us to further protect ourselves while continuing to be open for business and serve our students.

We also ask that the Administration allow for more flexibility regarding where and how classes are taught this semester. The initial goal of teaching 70% of our classes in a face-to-face environment made sense last fall when the schedule was finalized, but COVID has changed, and the new, highly transmissible Omicron variant has the ability to infect those who are vaccinated. The massive number of positive cases and resulting hospitalizations have already placed an immense strain on our health care system. We are aware that some face-to-face classes have been switched to structured remote instruction, but we need to do more than change a small number of classes.  Many of our faculty have children who are too young to be vaccinated, and bringing them on campus into a more populated environment is not a good or safe idea.  These faculty agreed to teach face-to-face classes prior to the current mutation of the virus and spike in COVID numbers.  We recognize that MC has a student vaccination mandate in place, but we are very concerned about the low percentage of students who have uploaded their vaccination records.  This low number indicates that the faculty and staff who work face-to-face with students are being asked to work in a potentially unsafe environment.  For this reason, we ask that the Administration allow the faculty to switch their classes to SRT instruction if they and their students agree that this is something they prefer. Let’s give our faculty all the options necessary to protect themselves while at the same time providing safe and quality instruction to their students. 

We would like to discuss these requests with you before the Spring 2022 semester begins. Thank you for your consideration.

Harry N. Zarin, President AAUP

Victoria Baldassano, Director SEIU

Chris Standing, President AFSCME

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