December 8, 2023

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.

Speak Your Mind