CSU-AAUP Contract Benefits
Why CSU Faculty Should Join The CSU-AAUP
by David Larson
Retired Professor David M. Larson (ENG)past Chapter President, and previous member of the Chapter Executive Committee since the Chapter Bylaws were adopted. He was also a member of the negotiating team for our first two contract negotiations and served as President of the Chapter while the third contract was negotiated. This statement is a revision of a paper Professor Larson wrote after the first contract was negotiated.
CSU Faculty are now well into the third Contract negotiated by the AAUP. Because of the support of dedicated members, we have been successful in numerous ways: we have defended faculty rights, increased equity in the treatment of faculty in wages and benefits, and maintained the faculty's role in the governance of the University.
Because not all faculty are familiar with the benefits gained by the AAUP Contract--and some seem woefully misinformed about the AAUP's efforts on behalf of faculty--I thought it would be useful to review the benefits the AAUP has gained for faculty in the last three contracts and to look at areas which still need improvement.
Following are a few of the ways in which we have all been better off under the CSU-AAUP Contracts.
I begin with non-economic issues because they are often ignored, yet for us as professionals they are crucially important.
In the past three contracts the CSU-AAUP achieved significant gains for the faculty in four areas: 1) the protection of tenure, 2) faculty governance, 3) faculty grievances, and 4) the protection of faculty in a financial crisis. Given the current state and national hostility to faculty prerogatives, this is a remarkable achievement.
1) Tenure: As the Contract states, faculty are now tenured "...by the University...." They are not tenured merely in a particular program or department. So when a program is suspended (as the major in German was), the tenured faculty members in that program will be retained, not laid off, and, even if an entire department is closed, the University must make a good faith effort to find its members an equivalent position within the University, including retraining them if necessary.
2) Workload: CSU-AAUP shifted to semesters a few years ago. In that shift the faculty have maintained--indeed, with the addition of the banking system have improved--the teaching load they had during quarters, and we have done this in the face of demands by the Regents and the Legislature that faculty increase their teaching load and decrease the amount of time they spend on research and University service. This would not have happened without the AAUP. Before unionization discussions over a shift to semesters always foundered on the administration’s insistence that three courses a semester become the standard load.
3) Governance: To protect the faculty's right to determine curriculum and its larger role within the University, the Contract recognizes faculty governance at CSU (Article 40). Thus when an administrator recommends that a program be added or closed, the faculty's right to make the final decision (plus the "Greenbook's" requirement that specific procedures be followed in arriving at such a decision in order to provide affected faculty a chance to respond to the proposal) now has legal standing. In a time when the University is under great external pressure to add vocational programs and abandon ones which are devoted to the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, such protection is crucial. We will not arrive at school one morning to discover--as has happened at other Universities--that the Administration has announced the abolition of the physics department because it is irrelevant to our urban mission.
4) Grievance: The most overlooked benefit of the Contract (except by those faculty who have needed it) is its excellent grievance process. The Contract's grievance process benefits both the faculty and the Administration. For faculty the grievance process provides an opportunity to have their cases heard impartially. The process may include a hearing by a panel of the faculty member's peers, and, when warranted, it may end in binding arbitration. One central goal of the Contract is to ensure faculty fair and equitable treatment. If the contract is violated, the faculty member has the right to file a grievance. Because he or she is represented by a Grievance Officer from the AAUP and because the Administration's actions may finally be judged by an arbitrator, the Administration must treat the complaint seriously. It cannot simply shrug it off, as was frequently done in the years before we had a contract. For the Administration the grievance process provides a mechanism for ensuring that faculty know they are treated fairly so that old wounds do not continue to rankle. It promotes faculty morale. The success of the grievance process in resolving issues can be seen in the fact that the CSU-AAUP has taken very few cases to arbitration. Most have been disposed of at a previous level. The process works because it ensures that complaints of contract violation are treated with respect by administrators.
5) Financial Exigency and Academic Re-organization: None of us like to contemplate the possibility of a truly dire financial emergency at CSU, but this event is occurring more and more frequently across the nation--including a school as close to home as Central State University here in Ohio. Should CSU's Administration ever declare a condition of financial exigency, followed by an academic re-organization, the Contract guarantees the AAUP a role in: 1) examining the validity of the claim of financial exigency, and 2) making recommendations to cope with the crisis with the least disruption to education at CSU. The Contract also provides protection and compensation for faculty facing dismissal because of a genuine financial crisis. Every faculty member in the University benefits from these guarantees in the CSU-AAUP contract. Most faculty have also benefitted financially.
Although the CSU-AAUP has certainly not won everything it hoped for--and that it believes the faculty deserves--in the pay raises in the first three contracts, it achieved real economic gains for most faculty members.
1) Benefits: Perhaps the most dramatic victory is in our benefits packages. In the face of concerted national and local efforts to make faculty pay more for fewer and worse benefits, the CSU-AAUP Contracts have defended and even improved our benefits. We have added both a third health care choice and a new crisis intervention program. And last year, faced with the threat of extraordinary hikes in health care cost, the Unions and the Administration worked cooperatively to find ways to contain them within reasonable limits.
On benefits the CSU-AAUP contracts have helped everyone at CSU--faculty, staff, and Administration.
2) Salaries: Although CSU salaries have not yet fully recovered from the bleak years immediately preceding unionization, our negotiating teams have achieved a great deal. Salaries are now fairer and average raises higher than before we started negotiating contracts. And in the current contract we are doing much, much better than those state universities without effective union representation.
The salary packages the AAUP has won have accomplished much. We have established minima for each rank--and added small supplements for years in rank--to create equity for faculty who have demonstrated their commitment to this University but who were treated unjustly in the years before the contract, a time when raises were too often based on whim or favoritism.
The minima and the supplements for years in rank established the principle that a competent, dedicated professional deserves a living wage. In the current contract we have increased the minima to reflect upward inflation pressures, and in future contracts we hope to restore the supplements from the second contract.
But the most striking economic successes in the current contract are in our across the board amounts, our merit increases, and our market adjustments. In this contract every faculty member is receiving at least a four per cent a year increase. This is at a time when Ohio State University is giving its faculty a maximum of $396 for this entire academic year. Our four per cent annual raise is in fact one of the highest across the board increases in the state.
In addition our salary package includes a half per cent for merit increases for outstanding faculty members, with a fair process for selecting them, and money for genuine market adjustments for faculty who are paid below market rates. There is, of course, not enough money in any of these pots to make up for past injustices, but we are getting there.
Our increase in membership undoubtedly strengthened our hand in the past set of contract negotiations. For us to do even better we need even higher levels of membership.
Although we have made significant gains in our first three contracts, there are areas in which the faculty at CSU still needs to make progress.
We need a stronger governance clause to make certain that faculty maintain their control of curriculum. This is especially important given increasing efforts by the Regents in Columbus to determine what we will and will not teach.
We need to have undergraduate independent study count as part of our teaching load, as graduate advising of theses now does.
We need to extend benefits to domestic partners insofar as is legally possible so as to ensure equity for all faculty. We now have a “me too” clause on this issue, but that is not enough.
We still need significant improvements in pay, including: substantial across-the-board increases to make up for the years of losses, larger market adjustments for those who find themselves making no more (or less) than newly hired colleagues at lower ranks, and the reinstitution of years-in-rank increases to reward the commitment of long time faculty members.
To gain any of these--and especially to persuade the Board of Trustees to make faculty salaries a high priority in a time of budgetary constraint--we must have most of the CSU faculty as members.
If you believe that saving a very few dollars by paying a fair share fee instead of membership dues is a clever thing, I would suggest that you think again. You are being penny-wise but pound foolish.
Yes, you are saving a few dollars a month while getting the same benefits your colleagues are receiving who are CSU-AAUP members. Yes, you share in the protections the AAUP grants all members of the Bargaining Unit. When an administrator violates your rights as a faculty member, we will use the contract to defend you, AAUP member or not. When Columbus tries unilaterally to increase your workload, we will use the contract to stop that from happening, AAUP member or not. When we negotiate pay increases or benefits improvements, you will share in them, AAUP member or not.
But because you are not an AAUP member, we do not have the power we need to pressure the Board to grant the raises we deserve. Because you are not an AAUP member, we cannot convince the Board that we have the enthusiastic endorsement of our colleagues, who will support us in threatened job actions. Because you are not a member, the CSU-AAUP is not strong enough to improve the economic status of our faculty as a whole as much as we would wish.
So, yes, your refusing to become a member weakens the AAUP--the representative of all the faculty outside the law school. To gain a few dollars per month you muffle your voice within the CSU-AAUP, you undermine your own representative in its negotiations with the Administration and the Board, and you weaken our ability to achieve the raises we deserve as a faculty. You let your colleagues pay your way for you, take advantage of their efforts, and you make it more difficult for them to achieve our mutual goals.
Make your voice heard within the AAUP! Make AAUP's voice stronger with the Administration and the Board of Trustees! Make a difference at CSU!
All you need to do is join AAUP; do your part; and pay your way.