May 22, 2024

MC AAUP monthly update – January 2023

Hello Colleagues,

I trust that the semester has started well…., and if not, that those challenges have been resolved satisfactorily. When this is not the case, I hope by now that you know to reach out to us anytime.

We do post these updates on our [MCAAUP.org]MC-AAUP webpage as an archive of sorts and encourage you to go there to find these messages when needed. There you can also find a calendar of events, various resources, and our Bylaws. Full-time faculty are encouraged to consider joining The Chapter to support all that we do on your behalf you can find that member application there as well.

Many still do not know all that we do in our roles on the MC-AAUP Executive Committee or appreciate how things might go if we did not exist. If you talk to a colleague at any other institution of higher education in Maryland, they likely can tell you how it goes at those respective places without much of a voice. So, this particular update is a bit lengthy but is an effort to further enlighten and align our membership in a way that advances the Mission of MC and supports the full-time faculty that are an integral part of the very essence of this institution. Here goes…

  1. Strategic Plan: On December 7, the Executive Committee held a MC-AAUP Strategic Plan roll out to share our vision for The Chapter. We are required to give advance notice of any proposed changes to the Constitution Bylaws, and we appreciate those who attended and provided feedback on these changes. We made every effort to be as transparent as possible through-out this process. At the Opening Meeting this past month, we again shared the proposed changes as well as our new MC-AAUP organizational chart. This all aligns to our goals of improving member engagement, Chapter membership, and information sharing. As a result of that meeting, a motion to vote on the proposed changes to the Constitution, and a second, was made so a vote was held online the following week. I am delighted that this motion passed with almost 98% of the vote! Watch for more information as we begin to implement our 2022 Strategic Plan and involve even more of our membership to develop specific goals moving forward.

NOTE: This is a genuine effort to get more members involved in all that we do, so please reach out if you have an interest in joining one of our new Work Groups.

  1. Negotiating Team: Did you hear about your raise coming next Fall!?!? The MCAAUP Negotiating Team was quite busy last semester. Our Negotiating Team (N.T.) participated in negotiations for salary improvements for next year, they also organized and facilitated several forums. As a result of all their hard work and the information we shared at the Opening Meeting, we voted online to accept the Tentative Agreement (T.A.) with Management with just over 99% of the vote! Specifics about the agreement can be found on our web page, which was also recently sent as an email.

The NT was also busy hosting forums that included but were not limited to topics related to benefits, Workday challenges, and general information on the Contract. This was very helpful because we collected a lot of feedback on issues that will help prepare us for our contract reopener next fall. However, in response at least in part to our concerns, the college is forming a Focus Group to explore the challenges related to Workday and we hope to be part of that effort not only better understand this platform, but to help simplify some of the processes that have frustrated so many, including HR folks themselves. Stay tuned! 

We also hosted a forum to collaborate with Department Chairs to answer questions regarding the contract, but also to get their input on how we can better inform Faculty. This was a very well attended event, and we look forward to doing this again next year as this keeps everyone better informed and on the same page. Things flow better when everyone is familiar with the Contract so we appreciate the fact that so many Chairs attended in a mutual effort to share information.

  1. Governance: In years past, our Faculty Council governance group once included and collaborated with labor groups across the college. This was to ensure inclusion and to collect multiple perspectives on matters that arose. While we have continued to discuss issues offline, the latest “shared governance” model has not included representatives from our labor groups, until now. I am pleased to share that I recently started attending the Faculty Council meetings to not only hear and attempt to address their concerns, but to suggest items of concern for them to consider that do not fall within our purview. We will continue to collaborate in and outside those meetings as this clearly helps us all stay aware of matters that concern faculty. 
  1. Covid policy: By now you should be aware that the college has begun to pivot away from some of the remaining Covid mandates that were still in place. This means that faculty can REQUEST but NOT REQUIRE masks in the classroom. However, you can require masks in office spaces and other small areas where movement and spacing is limited AND when you cannot relocate. We appreciate that not everyone has the same views or the same health concerns on this topic but that we have continued to be respectful of those differences. The college administration has assured us that they will continue to be as flexible as possible and do their best when to accommodate those with documented health concerns. I am not aware of many instances where at least some accommodation has been denied but please feel free to reach out to me if you have such a concern but feel the college has fallen short on supporting you as needed.
  1. Lobbying Efforts: The changes to our Constitution required the aforementioned edits to our web page, but one other addition is a new link called “Organization Resources.” This is now in place to help other 2-year and 4-year institutions who are attempting to organize their respective Chapters.

We have been asked by colleagues at various colleges and universities as well as by our new partners at A.F.T. for guidance in this regard. As such, we have begun participating in various lobbying activities on their behalf. But make no mistake, these efforts will serve us well down the road when issues specific to higher education come up at the state and national level. There is strength in numbers, so we are very proud to be playing an integral role in the advocacy of our own institution as well as that of others, and on matters related to academic freedom, tenure, and Labor across the state. Of course, the time is near again for us to advocate for the college at The County Council Budget hearings. We will be there as we are each year to do so as asked.

  1. Ombudsman: We continue to appeal to the college to fill the position of Ombudsman here at MC. Those who have served in this position in the past have been incredibly useful and helped resolve many challenges in the past. This position was initially filled as part of our Middle States Self-Study feedback years ago and we feel strongly that this serves the college community quite well as this is a neutral third party.
  1. Academic Affairs: The turnout for the Academic Affairs meeting during Professional Week was outstanding. It was a real pleasure to hear from administrators from 4-year institutions about our students and the reputation we have across the college in numerous programs. Congrats to all those who have recently started new programs, earned grants, or forged new articulation agreements with 4-year colleges and universities!
  1. Enrollment: We are excited that the number of students and enrollment itself across the college is slightly higher than projected although still early to determine the ultimate outcome. Right now, the college offers about 67% of courses as F2F, and the rest are almost evenly split by D.L. and S.R.T. but final numbers will be determined later after late start classes have begun. We are dropping less sections than in the past but still many more than is desirable, so ongoing efforts to move to a year-long course schedule are still quite critical. The impetus for these changes is to afford students the opportunity and option to plan their schedule for Fall and Spring well in advance and to know with almost absolute certainty that certain classes will run. This also gives the college more time to add sections, make format decisions based on those numbers, and ensure instructors are available / assigned.
  1. Payroll: We continue to work with HR on a myriad of payroll and compensation issues. This includes errors on union dues deductions (only 2-3 thus far), flex spending errors, and deferred payroll payment plan mistakes. While there are on occasion data entry errors, most of the time this comes back to quirks and the limits of Workday, which they are attempting to address. Unfortunately, this at times is more complicated than it should be and HR only has so much maneuverability with Workday.

But we cannot stress this enough: IT IS YOUR JOB TO REGULARLY DOUBLE CHECK YOU PAY STUBS FOR ACCURACY. Finding a mistake month or just weeks down the road can prove to be quite inconvenient when they find errors and must come asking for money back…, or there are inadequate funds in your flex spending account! Mistakes happen and we try to monitor this as best we can, but there are a lot of you, lots of varying job/leave circumstances, and few of us…., and really is your responsibility. If you have a question about your pay or deductions, email payroll@montgomerycollege.edu and feel free to copy myself or Tim Kirkner IF your concerns are not addressed.

Also, please know that if you go out on FMLA type of leave for any length of time, you will likely be removed from the deferred payment plan automatically and be back on the 10-month plan. This is a complicated Workday issue and not one that can be remedied easily anytime soon. :0(

  1. Short term sick leave: Short term sick leave (less than 2 hours on a day) for some Counselors has been confusing issue in Student Affairs due to inconsistencies in P&P vs. HR directives and how applied. But we are happy that Counselors across the college who need sick leave for less than 2 hours on a particular day do not need to utilize Workday or process any paperwork for that matter. Making arrangements / notifying the Chair and making up this time as appropriate is all that is required. Adhering but not abusing this arrangement keeps everyone a bit happier and away from Workday…, at least for this issue!
  1. Tech it Out: When we find things that WILL interest you, we will share them. There is a relatively new IT training offering called “Tech it Out.” It is online, quick, easy, come and go as you need, and only for an hour. This meets on Fridays at 2pm but you need to register. Last week I learned some useful quick tips on Outlook and other topics. But I also learned about upcoming trainings for “Yuja,” which allows you to embed videos into lectures or into content in Bb without having to use YouTube or other apps. The college has purchased a license for this so it will be free for you! Learn about these kinds of things and more here so I urge you to check it out.
  1. Collaboration: We continue to meet with Senior Management on a regular basis but also as needed to address issues that come up on a variety of topics. Sometimes the solutions come quickly but sometimes the problems that we share are new to those who oversee those areas. When these issues are complex and need substantial time and input, we wait for follow-up, or we form work groups to explore these issues further. One such pressing issue relates to office hours and how / where those hours are spent. We expect that this group will get started soon and are happy to have the opportunity to explore this topic with Management. We hope they share the need for the office hour policy to evolve just as modes of instruction have evolved over the past 2-3 years.  
  1. Required trainings: Do not forget about Required Trainings! Most are online and less than 60 minutes. Go to Training and Professional Development in My MC main menu and look for Required Trainings on the right side of the screen.
  1. IT Support: We are looking into the availability of IT Support over the phone on weekends, especially Sundays. We know that your work is not M-F, it is not 9-5, and challenges with email and/or My MC can happen at all hours. Therefore, support in off hours is critical. Stay tuned.

Please watch your emails for information regarding upcoming Focus Groups and Forums. This is just one way you can connect with us, provide feedback, and make a difference.

On behalf of The Chapter, be well and reach out when you need us!

Tito

AJ (“Tito”) Baca Jr., Ed.D.

Tentative MOA for AY2023-24 (from MC-AAUP and Management)

Dear Full time Faculty:

The negotiating teams representing the AAUP chapter and management at Montgomery College have agreed to the following for the collective bargaining agreement for the fiscal/academic year 2023-2024:

Dated December 20, 2022 

The Agreement between the Montgomery College Chapter of the American Association of University Professors (the Chapter) and the Board of Trustees of Montgomery College (the College) provides for reopener negotiations for the fiscal 2024 academic year. After negotiating in good faith, the parties agree that there will be no changes to the Agreement between the College and the Chapter in the fiscal 2024 academic year other than the following: 

NON-ECONOMIC ISSUES 

A joint committee of two (2) faculty members and two (2) members of the administration will meet and confer during 2023 to analyze and provide recommendations around the issue of office hours, presently set forth in Section 5.3(A) of the Agreement. Negotiation over any changes to Section 5.3(A) will be a part of the full contract negotiations beginning in the fall of 2023 or, by mutual agreement, may result in a side letter regarding office hours prior to the start of full contract negotiations in the fall of 2023. 

ECONOMIC ISSUES Section 8.2 – Academic Year Salaries. (A) General. Fiscal 2024 Academic Year: 

Effective the first day of the academic year, the salary of any faculty member who has been in the bargaining unit for at least one semester as of the beginning of the fiscal 2024 academic year shall be increased by three percent (3%) and by as much as an additional $2,700.00, provided that no faculty member’s fiscal 2024 academic year salary under this Section 8.2(A) shall exceed $123,720.00 or be less than $62,319.00. 

A faculty member eligible for a longevity adjustment under Section 8.2(D) (five consecutive years at the maximum and satisfactory performance evaluations) will have a one-time longevity step of $1,600.00 added to the maximum salary under Section 8.2(A), for a total Fiscal 2024 Academic Year salary of $125,320.00. For the Chapter: For the College: 

This agreement was discussed at the AAUP opening meeting on 17 January 2023 and a vote on ratification will be held the week of 23 January 2023. We are appreciative of the mutually collaborative, beneficial, and cordial nature of this negotiation session, as well as the continued trust and support of our AAUP chapter members. 

If you have any questions, please contact a member of the AAUP negotiating team. 

Best regards, 

Sharon Piper, Lead negotiator AAUP- Fall 2023

Carol Kliever,  Director, Employee and Labor Relations

Proposed Modifications of the Constitution

Please see the below document if you wish to review proposed modifications to the constitution.

College Email Distribution Lists

Hi,

We heard from several folks that they might not be getting emails when sent messages are sent via campus or collegewide distribution lists, such as “Full Time Faculty” or by campus like “Full-Time Faculty GT.”

If you want to see if you are included on one or more of these lists, follow the directions below.

  1. Type Full Time Faculty or Full-Time Faculty TP, RV or GT in the “To” section of a new email.
  2. Press the small + sign in front of that email distribution list.
  3. Click ok to expand the list.
  4. Search for your name and make sure it is spelled correctly
  5. If your name is there, be sure to check any other distribution lists that you feel you should be included on as well.
  6. If your name is there but you are not getting messages, check Clutter and Junk folders.
  7. If your name is NOT there, contact the most Senior Administrative Aid in your Department and ask that your email be added / edited as needed. You may want to copy your Chair as well.

But please make sure it is not there before reaching out to these folks.

Hope this helps!

Tito

MC-AAUP Spring 2023 Opening Meeting

Hello Colleagues,

The much deserved and well-earned break is coming to an end, but I hope it was restful and all that you needed. If you were able to avoid the various ailments floating around, good for you!

We are back next week after the holiday on Monday. So, Tuesday the 17th, the Professional Week starts with the College-wide Opening Meeting. This will be held at 9 a.m. in the Cultural Arts Center on the Takoma Park/Silver Spring Campus. We hope to see you there, but this will be live streamed as well.

At this meeting, Dr. Williams will share a presidential address and details regarding the MC Strategic Plan refresh. There will also be a student panel discussion along with other speakers who will briefly present on matters relevant to our return. For additional details about the Spring 2023 Professional Week and other scheduled meetings, please visit the Spring Opening Meeting website.

After the college-wide meeting has concluded, ALL full-time faculty are strongly encouraged to join us for our AAUP Opening Meeting. You may recall that this will be a very important meeting! At this meeting we will discuss in detail the Strategic Plan that we have been working on for the past year. This includes changes to our Bylaws and our organizational flowchart, which align with our main long-term goals of improving outreach and member engagement.

So, we really need / want your participation and feedback as we share critical information that will help guide us for years to come. We will also discuss many of the matters we have been addressing, on your behalf since we last met in August. It is an extensive list to be sure. Further, we want to recognize those who are retiring and have given so much to MC. So please join us online at:

MC-AAUP Spring 2023 Opening Meeting

Jan 17, 2023, 11:15 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Meeting ID  935 0093 5904

Invite Link   https://montgomerycollege.zoom.us/j/93500935904

Lastly, we have VERY EXCITING news that you will NOT want to miss! When I say EXCITING, I mean it!

See you Tuesday!

Best,

Tito

Transition of Covid mandates for Spring ’23

Colleagues,

I trust by now that you are aware that as of the beginning of the spring semester, the college will pivot away from some of the current Covid mandates that are now in place. Montgomery College was the last institution of higher education in Maryland to require masks in the classrooms while many other colleges and universities eliminated their mask mandate, some just days before the semester started.

However, as of October / November, the health metrics used across the county to access trends and risks seemed to show that the time was at hand to make this transition. We asked that any changes to these policies take place AFTER the fall semester as to limit disruption to the classrooms and we appreciate that this was heard and heeded.  

But of course, decisions like this are not easy. It is quite difficult to appease everyone and almost impossible to address the needs / concerns of all 500+ faculty. This is where we can come in and help.

We have asked the college to continue to be as flexible as possible for those with documented medical concerns or fall into a high-risk category. They have agreed to do so on a case-by-case basis and when prudent based on scheduling parameters and the needs of students.

If you meet the aforementioned criteria and after conversations with your Chair and your supervisor, an agreeable solution to your accommodation request is still unsatisfactory, please reach out to us. The college may not be able to honor every accommodation request, but alternative options to address these concerns are being explored and again will be considered whenever possible.

However, please note that ADA guidelines in the workplace are in place to protect the employee. Therefore, unfortunately they are not applicable for concerns related to other family members or those living in the home. This is not to say that options for these considerations are not entirely void of any conversation, but it does mean that the legal implications and college obligations in this regard are clear. Still, your well-being and that of those close to you is still very much a priority. 

So please work with your Chair and Dean when possible and should you feel the need to contact us for help, do not hesitate to do so.

Stay safe and reach out when you need us.

Best,

Tito

Your MC-AAUP Renewed! Strategic Planning Forum (Online) on 12/7 at 4pm!

Hello Faculty Colleagues,

By now, you likely know that the Executive Committee has been working on a Strategic Plan for our Chapter over the past year! During that time we have held open forums and trainings to help us better understand how we are doing as your union representatives. Further, we have explored best practices related to labor group organization in higher education to help guide us moving forward. 

The culmination of all this work will be January 17th at our opening meeting (ONLINE). This is when we will hold a full member vote on some significant changes to our bylaws that will help to better position us moving forward.

However, we are required to provide advance notice of any proposed bylaw changes. Therefore, we  would like to invite you to one last open forum on this matter on December 7th. It will be at this time that we share our ideas and proposed changes, but also solicit your feedback. This will afford us one last opportunity to consider edits and changes before our draft is finalized and put forward for a vote. 

If you are not sure about what we do, much of which is behind the scenes and without a lot of fanfare, you were strongly encouraged to attend. We work on your behalf every day! So, this is not only an opportunity to find out more about the work we do, but also to have a say in how we do that work in the future.

Please join us as your time allows, even if just for part of this meeting. Your participation and support is critical to keeping you informed and to the effectiveness of the Chapter.

Topic: Strategic Planning Forum
Join Zoom Meeting
https://montgomerycollege.zoom.us/j/92443970281

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Meeting ID: 924 4397 0281
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+13017158592,,92443970281# US (Washington DC)

Hope to see you there!

On behalf of The Chapter,

Tito 

AAUP October update – Critical information for ALL FT faculty!!

Hello,
At the end of each month we will try to update you on what we have been working on and the latest happenings as they relate to you and all FT faculty. There are some significant things going on that you should be aware of as a FT faculty member. Some of this is new regarding open enrollment and concerns ALL employees of the college. The process is different this year so please read below for this and other information we hope is helpful.

1. The “Required Trainings” for all employees can be found in MyMC at the HR web site. Please check these out soon and be aware of deadlines to complete them! Some of the required trainings were recently added and most of them are online! Please find them at https://info.montgomerycollege.edu/offices/human-resources/training.html

Required Training | Montgomery College, MarylandTitle & Duration Required For Recommended For Description Type/Availability Completion Date; Data Security @MC – Annual Review FY23 new window 30 Minutes: Administrators, Department Chairs, Full-time Faculty, Part-time Credit and WDCE Faculty, Staff, Temp w/ Benefits, Casual Temporary and Student Workersinfo.montgomerycollege.edu

2. The respective Labor leaders met with Dr. Williams in early October. We hope was the first of regular semester meetings in the future. We were able to discuss the Presidential Transition Advisory Committee (PTAC) Transition Plan and some of his new initiatives. We shared concerns about day long meetings that interfere with daily activities without faculty input on timing, changes to policies related to Covid that should wait until the end of the semester, and ongoing communication challenges across the college.

We also briefly discussed returning to the IBB model for negotiations with an intent to discuss further at our next meeting. This is something that has drug on too long and we will continue to pursue this as we feel this is in the best interest of faculty and the college.

3. Many at the top of the salary scale were due a “Longevity” step as part of their salary increase this year, if they had already been at the top of the scale for 5 full years. Despite an MOU and many years of agreement on this, plus memos from college counsel and administrators to this effect, the college took issue with the language and did not interpret it as they have in the past. In essence they felt as if no “step” was warranted, so the “step” was not included in the Work Day salary computations at the beginning of the semester. We consulted with counsel and then articulated our disappointment and frustration with what we felt was their misinterpretation of the language, which again had been used as a guide for many years.

Ultimately the college agreed to honor the MOU and employ the language as we have in the past, for the next two years until we can discuss next year during our open contract collective bargaining negotiation sessions. We are still waiting for those salary improvements to take effect for those who meet the criteria outlined in the MOU but have been assured that this will happen soon. Stay tuned.

4. Open enrollment has started and runs through November 18th. ALL employees at MC MUST use Work Day, whether they plan to make changes to their benefits, flex spending accounts, or withholdings…, or not! You can contact Human Resources for questions but watch for email announcements on open enrollment help sessions. Go to myalex.com/mc/2023
to get this done ASAP?!

5. The MC-AAUP Fall Labor Organization Summit is this Friday. We have invited representatives from institutions in higher education from all over the country to discuss issues that face us all in academia and best practices to best confront them. Please join us for as much of the day as your schedule permits and plan to share how our Chapter has benefited you, your discipline, and/ or department. You can join us for a brief meet and greet at 8:45 AM at AAUP / MC /AFT/ Fall Organizing Summit – 11/4 – ZOOM

6. Recently the college announced changes to COVID related policies for next semester. We were told about potential changes coming but did not have as much time as we would have liked to discuss these changes and the implications. Our understanding is that a premature announcement was sent out to the college community before everyone had time to weigh in and actual true “consultations” took place. But we have shared concerns about how these decisions were made without our input at that time and the quick turn-around for feedback that was requested from us before this was to be sent out. We also have had some preliminary discussions with MGMT about the implications for those faculty who may still need some flexibility with their schedule and inquired as to what if any right they might have to continue to require masks in their classroom.

The health pandemic is not over, it is just in a different phase. But we now have more information from which to base our professional and personal decisions, and data from new research should continue to guide us for years to come. However, as you likely know, there are lots of moving parts when it comes to developing policies on matters such as a health pandemic, and the college will never be able to come to a decision that suits everyone. Having said this, we will continue to advise management that the best way to help ensure that at least all voices are heard and as many are accommodated as possible would be to invite us into these conversations at the beginning so that we have the opportunity to share valuable information and perspectives that can better inform those decisions.

Stay tuned as we attempt to flush this out a bit more. 

7. A call for nominations for Full-time and Part-Time Faculty Awards, which are presented at the end of the academic year, was announced yesterday by Dr. Rai’s office. There are so many deserving faculty members who do amazing things here at MC, but the number of nominations for these awards often does not reflect this. Please consider nominating someone who continues to shine as a faculty member and deserves recognition for their contributions to the college.

8. The position of Ombudsman here at MC has been vacant for some time now but will be posted soon. Those who have served the college in this role have made significant role in resolving challenges and disagreements in the past. So we were happy to hear that this position will be advertised soon and the hope is that this position will be filled in the near future and again be another place where all employees of the college can go to help find resolutions to issues that arise.

9. We know that there are ongoing challenges with Work Day. Unfortunately HR has experienced significant turnover in recent months so there will be times when things move a bit slower than everyone would like. They are very much aware of these challenges but are working hard to fill in the gaps as best they can. We have asked for more frequent updates on significant matters and a heads up when contact information changes so we know who to contact for specific assistance and they have agreed to do so. We all need to do our part and read those updates, including the HR Employee Matters emails that are sent out regularly to update us so we know the “what, when, where, and how” on HR related information. New training and tutorial links can often be found here to guide you on Work Day tasks.

10. Last semester we conducted a survey related to Coordinators and their respective duties / compensation across the college. It was quite insightful and we are still working on how best to compile and present that information to Management in a way that will help guide Deans and Chairs alike in how duties are assigned. We obviously expect that the compensation for that work, whether it is done during the academic year or in the summer, to be consistent across the college. So please do not think we have forgotten about this or that the feedback we received hit a dead-end. We want to be thoughtful and deliberate about next steps.

I hope that this update is helpful and you stay well!

On behalf of The Chapter,
Tito

MC-AAUP Fall National Organizing Summit

Dear Colleagues,

Since 1980 the Montgomery College AAUP Chapter has been the ONLY organized labor group to represent full-time faculty at a Maryland institution in higher education. In fact, because of newly passed legislation in Annapolis last year, it is just this year that other community colleges in Maryland can now start to consider whether they want to have organized labor groups for their respective employee groups at their institution. This is still NOT the case for 4-year colleges and universities.

But even across the country, there are not as many organized Chapters with collective bargaining rights as you might think. Most Chapters are “advocacy groups” without a “contract” that would guide process and policy with legal leverage. As a matter of fact, it was at the National AAUP Conference this past summer that we discovered just how unique and fortunate we are to have an organized union with these rights. It was here that we took note of how many more colleges and universities want to get better organized, including large 4-year institutions like UMD – College Park. When I shared even just a little about our history and role here at MC, many representatives at various institutions wanted to know more and more about all that we do on behalf of our members and the “how.”

So a collaboration idea that we had, which started out as an intention to help advise and coordinate with other in-state institutions, blossomed into a national effort to connect online with Chapters across the country. Afterall there is strength in numbers and we all share common interests in higher education that connect us. In addition, the recent new affiliation between AAUP and AFT strengthens respective members and affords us new opportunities for growth.

It is for these reasons that we are proud to host a National Labor Organizing Summit this Friday (ONLINE) starting with an informal meet and greet at 8:45 AM. We have invited 2-year and 4-year state institutions and dozens of others from around the country to join us as we explore best practices in labor relations, organizing, and collective bargaining. You are welcome to join us as we discuss our role here at Montgomery College and share useful information to those considering how best to organize at their respective institutions. The agenda is attached here so you can see that we will have two panel discussions where you might find it useful to actively participate. We not only want to share our viewpoint as your Executive Committee, but that of our members who rely on our work as your representatives. This perspective will be quite useful to us and those who are hoping to organize.

Please note that some faculty at many institutions are divided on whether or not they even WANT to organize. They are fearful of retribution, an adversarial relationship with Management, and / or being part of a “trouble making group.” So, our goal is to provide accurate and helpful information for participants so that they can make informed decisions that guide them moving forward. We hope that they can see that having union representation does not mean there is constant disagreement and adversarial relationships, but instead should be constructive / collaborative with the end goal of making the institution better.

I hope you will consider joining us and representatives from AAUP and AFT for at least part of the day as it suits your schedule. We know you may have insights that could be particularly helpful and urge you to jump into the conversation as you see appropriate. We all have much to share with these groups, so thanks in advance for considering to participate/ attend.

AAUP / MC /AFT/ Fall Organizing Summit – 11/4 – ZOOM

On behalf of The Chapter,

Tito

AAUP Update: Chapter Communications with Dr. Williams

Colleagues:

As previously communicated to all of you, on April 18 representatives of the three employee unions at Montgomery College wrote to Dr. Jermaine Williams about our concerns with the administration’s decision not to drop students who are unvaccinated from classes.  Allowing these students to attend classes weakens the safety net that we all agreed to create when we voted in favor of a COVID-19 mandate for all employees and students. A copy of that communication is posted on the Chapter’s webpage, mcaaup.org.

Dr. Williams responded to our concerns and explained the administration’s rationale for its decision.  We replied with a request that faculty and other employees who need flexibility to teach or work remotely be given that opportunity. We also requested that the administration rethink the unrealistic goal of 10% for remote classes for the Fall 2022 semester. 

Below is our reply to Dr. Williams. We sent this reply on Wednesday May 3. Directly below that is Dr. William’s original response to our April 18 memo.  Please take a moment from your busy schedules to read both.  

You can post any comments you may have about this on the Chapter webpage or you can send them directly to me.  In addition, we can discuss this at our virtual meeting during Professional Week on Wednesday, May 18, from 11:15 am to 12:15 pm.  Here is the Zoom link to our end-of-year meeting:  https://montgomerycollege.zoom.us/j/91786425815.

Thanks for your support. 

Harry Z. 


May 3, 2022

Dr. Williams:

We appreciate your thoughtful response to our concerns about the change in the vaccine mandate for students. The improvement in health conditions in Montgomery County and other areas around the country is encouraging.  We hope that Dr. Anthony Fauci is correct in his estimation that the U.S. is now in a “transitional phase” that may ultimately lead to a future in which COVID-19 is as controllable as the seasonal flu. 

But, as Dr. Fauci noted, the pandemic is still with us.  Vaccines have gotten us this far, and vaccines continue to be the most critical tool we have to fight this deadly disease. We have seen COVID-19 spawn many variants, each more contagious than the previous one. Although the rate of deaths has declined, new cases and hospitalizations have recently increased. The fact that the overall COVID death toll in our country will soon reach 1 million is a sober reminder to remain vigilant.  

Montgomery College currently employs many faculty and staff members who are at higher risk of COVID because of age, medical condition, or the condition of family members. As the union representatives of these employees, we should have been brought into the discussion before the decision to rescind the student mandate was made.  We have heard from many of our constituents who oppose the college’s decision. Here are excerpts from two letters we recently received:

“I will be returning to f2f classes this summer.  I have been teaching online and am freshly recovered (I hope) from cancer surgery this past Jan 24th.  I am not thrilled to be immune-compromised with unvaccinated students roaming the halls.” 

I “will not be returning to MC if this policy will be adopted as I have several health issues which take precedence. Just as other immunizations are required, COVID should be necessary to protect the health of all in the community. I also have disabled family members that I must protect.”

As leaders of the unions that represent almost all of the employees at Montgomery College, we respectfully disagree with the college’s decision not to drop students from classes for failure to get vaccinated.  Now is not the time to go backwards.  Even if students continue to be advised that vaccination is expected, the knowledge that they will not be dropped from classes if they do not follow through is a disincentive to comply. 

This decision is likely to undermine the safety net that all of us agreed to create when we overwhelmingly voted to support the mandate.

Therefore, we request that the administration make the following adjustments:

  • Employees at high risk should be given permission to teach remotely or do telework if they so desire.  The current policy allows for up to 3 days per week of telework, but in many offices, specifically Student Affairs, employees have been instructed that the limit is one day per week.  Considering the change in the student vaccination mandate policy, this is unacceptable.
  • The college should rethink its target of 10% for structured remote and online classes for the Fall 2022 semester.

The 10% limit will make it difficult for employees to get the flexibility they need to stay safe and do their work effectively. If this limit is imposed, there will be insufficient remote classes for all the faculty who will request them due to their medical and/or personal circumstances. A target of 35% for remote classes would be more realistic.

Thank you for considering our views and suggestions.  We look forward to your response.

Sincerely, 

Harry Zarin, President AAUP

Lori Ulrich, President AFSCME

Victoria Baldassano, Director SEIU

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From: Jermaine F. Williams, President, Montgomery College <President@montgomerycollege.edu>

Sent: Friday, April 22, 2022 2:31 PM
To: Baldassano, Victoria A <victoria.baldassano@montgomerycollege.edu>; Ulrich, Lori A <Lori.Ulrich@montgomerycollege.edu>; Zarin, Harry <harry.zarin@montgomerycollege.edu>
Subject: Your recent message

Dear Victoria, Lori, and Harry:

Thank you for your April 19, 2022, email message communicating your concerns about the College’s decision to adjust the vaccine requirement for students. As I noted when we last met, I am pleased that the unions are engaged in these critical topics, and appreciate hearing your views, individually and collectively. Our conversations with the three of you prior to adjusting the masking requirement highlighted several coronavirus concerns among employees that were also considered in our decision to adjust the vaccine requirement for students. The two mitigation strategies both share some important impacts on classroom and workplace health, enrollment, and student success.

I want to assure you that the health and safety of the College community continue to be paramount, as they have been from the start of the pandemic. The College has demonstrated this commitment in multiple ways. We established one of the most rigorous requirements for student vaccination among community colleges in Maryland. Only one other community college required student vaccinations, and we were the only two colleges that removed students from face-to-face classes for failure to be vaccinated during the spring semester. As you may know, more than 700 MC students were deleted from classes for failing to comply with the student vaccine requirements.

The College’s recent decision to remove the penalty for non-vaccinated students in the summer sessions and fall semester was the result of careful consideration by my senior leadership team. At the same time, we are redoubling efforts to continue to educate and encourage all in our College community to be vaccinated, get boosters when eligible, practice good hygiene, and wear masks in certain venues. By informing students that they are expected to be vaccinated and directing them to our system to upload their vaccine cards, we contribute to the robust vaccination culture established over the past two semesters. These efforts build on the reported student vaccination rate of more than 90 percent accomplished thus far.

Our commitment to ensure equitable access and opportunity, as well as fuel the economy and drive economic mobility, rests on enhancing access for the diverse populations we serve and seek to serve. We believe the College can increase access in ways that continue to follow evolving health guidance, are safe and healthy, and meet the needs of our students and employees. As you know, masks continue to be required in classrooms and learning spaces.  Employees are also empowered to request masks be worn in their personal office spaces.

The process by which the student vaccination decision was made included consideration of the following.

• Health conditions are now very different than when the vaccination requirement was announced in September 2021: there is a high vaccination rate, medications are available for infected individuals, and state and county COVID conditions have vastly improved.

• The Montgomery County vaccination rate is very high: 95 percent of residents have at least one dose, 87 percent are fully vaccinated, and 54 percent are boosted—our students’ vaccination rates are comparable.

•  The transmission rate in Montgomery County remains consistently low.

•  The hospitalization and ICU bed utilization rates for COVID cases in Montgomery County are very low (and these are the key indicators informing updated CDC guidance).

•  Masks are required in classrooms, but even if the requirement is dropped in the future, a mask can be worn by anyone, anywhere, anytime.

We have also benchmarked what other higher education institutions are doing for comparison. And, most importantly, if conditions should change significantly, we are prepared to pivot as needed.

As health and safety conditions continue to change, we must appropriately respond. We look forward to engaging union leadership in this conversation.

As you know, the College has a full-time public health director whose expertise includes interpreting data on local conditions to inform real-time decision-making and advise senior leaders about evolving conditions. I have found her to be very adept with these issues, and well-equipped to guide us through directions from national, state, and local health authorities on topics such as masking.

We are dedicated to communication and transparency. Respective members of the senior team remain committed to meeting with each union to discuss matters of interest related to the collective bargaining agreements. Furthermore, I look forward to our meeting later this semester when we can continue our conversation about relationship building and a positive path forward that advances the mission of the College.

I very much appreciate your concern for the health and safety of faculty, staff, and students. My senior leadership team and I hold this as our highest priority and welcome your collaboration on meeting our shared goals—empowering students to change their lives and enriching the life of the community.

Regards,

jfw

Jermaine F. Williams
President
Office of the President
Montgomery College
9221 Corporate Boulevard
Rockville, MD 20850
240-567-5264
Jermaine.willams@montgomerycollege.edu