MAJOR ARBITRATION VICTORY: In July, United Faculty won a major arbitration award on behalf of a faculty member who had been the subject of an improperly conducted investigation by the UNI Office of Compliance and Equity Management (OCEM). According to the arbitrator, conclusions from the investigation were entirely unfounded. As part of the award, the OCEM’s findings must be removed from the faculty member’s file. This was a lengthy and expensive arbitration. The findings will have important implications for protecting the due process rights of all UNI faculty.

OCEM ALERT: Any faculty member who believes they are the subject of an OCEM investigation should immediately contact United Faculty (i.e., Becky Hawbaker or Chris Martin).

MANDATORY REPORTING POLICY: In 2015, United Faculty filed a Prohibitive Practice Complaint (PPC) with the Iowa Public Employee Relations Board (IPERB) regarding the OCEM’s new mandatory reporting policy. The policy requires faculty to report to OCEM any employee the faculty member believes might be engaged in sexual misconduct toward another employee. The requirement would exist even if a fellow employee came to a colleague seeking support or advice but did not want to file a complaint. Among other concerns, UF believes the policy will have a chilling effect upon the ability of sexual misconduct victims to seek support from friends and colleagues. After United Faculty filed the PPC, President Ruud formed a work group that included UF representation (Barbara Cutter), to review the policy and make recommendations for revisions. In May, the work group submitted its report to him. Earlier this week, President Ruud agreed with a work group recommendation that will remove the mandatory requirement for faculty to report other employees. United Faculty is indebted to faculty members Cyndi Dunn, Barbara Cutter, and Catherine MacGillivray for their great work on the work group. Their efforts will help strengthen due process for all UNI faculty.

COLLEGE OF BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION GRIEVANCE: On September 9th, 2015, the Interim Dean of the College of Business Administration promulgated the college’s 2015 Merit Guidelines. The guidelines state, “in order to be considered for merit, a faculty member must administer student assessments in all sections of all classes every regular semester.” (emphasis added) The requirement violates contract provisions which state, “Tenured faculty members shall be assessed by students during the fall or spring semester each second (2nd) year, not counting years on leave or non-teaching assignments.” (emphasis added) United Faculty regards the interim dean’s merit guidelines as an attempt to subvert the contractual agreement between UF and the Board of Regents. For this reason, UF has filed an organizational grievance alleging violations of contract provisions 3.22, 3.23, 3.26, 8.03. It is important to know that this very issue was resolved in United Faculty’s favor in a 2012 arbitration award.

PROGRAM DEFINITIONS: Article 5.2 of the new contract is an important victory for UNI faculty and our families. The article’s new provisions will prevent administrations from engaging in the type of employment termination tactics used in 2012. In short, management will not be able to create arbitrary program boundaries that target specific faculty for layoffs. I am pleased to report that Provost Wohlport and Associate Provost Cobb are working very collaboratively with United Faculty on program definitions.  Not surprisingly, a project of this nature will have a few bumps in the road. But, all in all, I could not be more pleased with the spirit of collaboration between the provost’s office and the union on this issue. Bear in mind there is virtually zero chance that article 5.2 will be implemented this year. Program definitions will be revisited annually so anything not fully resolved by October 1st should be fixable next year.

THE FOUR/FOUR “ACTIVE SCHOLAR” POLICY: Based on Joe Gorton’s discussions with Provost Wohlpart, it’s fair to say that the Gibson 4/4 “Active Scholar” policy and procedures are dead. It is our understanding that we have returned to the pre-Gibson straightforward interpretation of the Master Agreement. Unless a member of the faculty chooses to not engage in ‘scholarly or creative work and service,” the expected teaching load will not exceed nine hours per semester. The number or type of research/creative projects will no longer be a factor that could cause a faculty member to be assigned to a 4/4 load. UF wants to thank Provost Wohlport for his common sense interpretation of the teaching load provisions of the Master Agreement. Please feel free to let him know of your appreciation as well.

UNITED FACULTY RESOLUTION SUPPORTING UNIVERSITY OF IOWA AAUP:  By now, everyone is aware of the IBOR’s decision to hire someone who lacks a Ph.D. and an academic background to serve as President of the University of Iowa. Attached is the resolution from United Faculty in support of the University of Iowa AAUP Chapter. Thank you Frank Thompson for writing the resolution and vetting it through the University of Iowa AAUP Chapter leadership. The hiring controversy has caused University of Iowa AAUP leaders to begin discussions about whether to launch a union organizing campaign. The following link goes to an Iowa Press Citizen article about that possibility.

BOARD OF REGENTS: Although their recent decision regarding the search for a new UI president falls significantly short of AAUP expectations, United Faculty continues to have a positive and mutually respectful relationship with the Board of Regents. A few weeks ago, UF Treasurer Jeff Elbert and I met with Regent’s President Rastetter, President Pro Tem Mulholland, and Executive Director Donley to discuss areas of mutual concern to the union and the board. Our discussion was cordial and productive. Among other things, we agreed there are good reasons for considering whether to have serious discussions regarding the incentive structure for promotion to full professor. Of course, United Faculty President Joe Gorton will keep you posted on any developments in this area.    

FORCES OF COMMODIFICATION: The day before the Board of Regents announced their presidential hire, United Faculty President Joe Gorton included the following comment in his remarks to the 2015 Fall Faculty Meeting, “Call me alarmist if you want, but I believe there is a storm on our horizon. All over America, from Maine to Ohio, from Louisiana to Illinois, from Florida to Wisconsin the forces of commodification are in the process of degrading the real and essential values of America’s public colleges and universities. … To find further evidence of the storm coming our way, you need look no further than the recent list of final candidates for the position of President of the University of Iowa.”

UNITED FACULTY NEEDS YOUR HELP: In addition to advocacy, grievances, and contract maintenance, we have a lot going on within UF. One of our important initiatives involves reforming our constitution and by-laws. This is a major project that I believe will make UF a more flexible, democratic, efficient and effective organization. UF is also making a concerted effort to ask younger faculty to become more involved and to eventually take union leadership roles. Increasing numbers of our members are retiring. We must begin recruiting and training a new generation of members and leaders for our union. We cannot overemphasize the importance of this initiative for our faculty and our families. More information about this project will be forthcoming. In the meantime, it is essential that we grow our membership. As a matter of fairness and equity, it is not right that fewer than half of UNI’s tenured and tenure-track faculty are forced to carry the burden of protecting all faculty and our families. This is especially true given that our dues rate is lower than any union we know of. UNI’s custodians pay a higher dues rate than tenured and tenure-track faculty.  If you are not a UF member, please join as soon as possible. If you are a member, please ask your colleagues who have not yet joined to do so. Membership forms can be found on our website or you can reach out directly to Becky or me.

THANK YOU:The efficacy of United Faculty is due in large part to the commitment demonstrated daily by members of our Executive Board and Central Committee (see the attached list). It’s can be difficult to recruit folks to take on the responsibility of union work. Please don’t hesitate to let our Executive Board and Central Committee members know that you appreciate their work to protect academic freedom, tenure, faculty governance, due process, and the salaries and benefits that support UNI faculty and our families.