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February 2001 aaUPBEAT
Report on the UD Bargaining Unit
The bargaining unit represented by the AAUP at the University of Delaware has changed dramatically over the past five years. According to the Office of Institutional Research, 223 new faculty members have been hired from 1996 through the fall of 2001. These faculty members have joined us as a result of new positions being created and by filling positions that have been vacated, primarily due to retirements. In addition, non-tenure track policy changes are shifting professionals, who have been responsible for research, teaching, clinical work, and academic service, to the faculty, which means they are now represented by the AAUP. As a result of such changes, the bargaining unit now has 1,018 faculty members. Of this group, almost one out of four has come on board in the past five years.
It is gratifying that our new colleagues are receptive to joining the AAUP. Approximately 52% of eligible faculty are AAUP members. During the fall semester of 2000, forty-one people joined the union. The memberships of people who are new to our bargaining unit provide a solid foundation for expanding our membership still further.
Since so many new people are entering the bargaining unit, there are probably a large number of faculty who are not fully aware of the ways in which the AAUP works on behalf of their interests and strives to make the University of Delaware fulfill all of its potentials for academic excellence, the best education for our students, and shared governance. In this light, I would like to emphasize several of the many accomplishments of the AAUP that have shaped our life on campus and some of the current challenges we face.
One of the AAUP's major accomplishments is creating favorable conditions for a faculty-based agenda rooted in academic values. We accomplish this largely through the collective bargaining process and the grievance procedure, our newsletter which highlights key issues that confront our campus and profession, and surveys and reports.
Since 1990, for example, the AAUP has commissioned a yearly analysis of the University's finances by Richard E. Weber, Ph.D. The yearly "Weber Report" carefully analyzes the University's financial condition, including its income sources, expenditures, and overall strengths and weaknesses. Over the years, these reports have shown that the University possesses substantial financial strengths and capacities due to its increasing endowments, its growing assets, diverse sources of income, and relatively low debt.
The "Weber Reports" demonstrate that the University has more than ample financial resources to realize the goals of academic and educational excellence. By providing evidence of the University's strong finances, the AAUP has sought to shift the campus atmosphere away from fear based on scarcity to a discussion of alternative priorities. Our efforts to improve the economic status of the faculty, to make compensation more equitable, to increase the number of tenure track faculty, to enhance the employment conditions of non-tenure track faculty, to realize a more diverse faculty as a way of improving the quality of education at the University of Delaware, and to make our campus more conducive to research and learning are bolstered by our ability to bring home to the Administration convincing arguments to the effect that the University has the resources to accomplish these goals. It has been precisely our ability to make such arguments at the bargaining table that has improved UD faculty's working conditions and economic status in different areas.
Salary and Compensation
The AAUP's efforts have borne fruit in a number of ways. The faculty has grown, in part, because of a long-standing provision in the Collective Bargaining Agreement requires that the student-bargaining unit ratio not exceed 17.9 full-time graduate and undergraduate students per member of the bargaining unit. We also have established favorable retirement policies that provide a variety of retirement options. As a result of these contractual provisions and the non-tenure track policy which provides career development and security for non-tenure track faculty, the University of Delaware has very few contingent and part-time faculty compared to other higher education institutions.
We have made progress in faculty salaries and compensation also. Nine years ago, UD salaries were 4% below the average of the twenty-three comparable institutions in our region, placing us too close to the bottom of the group. From 1995-1997, however, salaries at the University increased to 6% above the average for these same institutions. In 1997-98, UD ranked tenth in salary. This relative increase was due to both favorable contracts that we negotiated and the fact that the salaries of some of our comparators were stagnant.
The most recent data provided by the national AAUP, however, show that our relative position has slipped. In 1999-2000, UD ranked thirteenth in salary out of twenty-five comparable institutions in our region; our salaries are now only .6% above the average. Other institutions in our region are catching up with or even surpassing the gains we made in the last decade. This is a positive development for our colleagues at other institutions and a challenge to the University of Delaware. Given the University's strong financial condition, there is no need for the Administration not to strengthen UD faculty's economic status.
Regarding faculty economic status, we seek not only to increase the average salary at the University, but also to strive for equitable compensation for all the people we represent. This AAUP commitment has involved the union in a variety of areas. We have sponsored gender equity and salary studies that highlighted particular faculty groups whose compensation seemed to be unfair. Special funds were provided to bring these salaries up to a justifiable level. Also, we have made, and will continue to do so, domestic partner benefits an AAUP priority so that the nondiscrimination provision of our contract is fulfilled and also to get the Administration to adopt domestic partner policies comparable to other leading universities and corporations. In terms of benefits in general, we seek to have them keep up with faculty needs and concerns, including long-term care insurance. The Collective Bargaining Agreement also strives for equity and accountability by clearly tying merit pay to the workload negotiated between individual faculty members and their chairs or directors. We have also negotiated increases in s-contracts by tying them to faculty rank and salary.
The issues of salaries and compensation have importance beyond the immediate financial and material needs of people in our bargaining unit. Levels of compensation raise fundamental questions about the economic status of our profession and whether it will be open in the future to people from poor to middle income backgrounds. Studies done by the national AAUP have demonstrated that faculty compensation is more than 20% below that of professions with similar education levels. Starting salaries in most disciplines are low in academe, and people enter academic employment after long years of study often saddled with loans. Over time, this pattern of compensation will limit the ranks of low and average income people pursuing academic careers. This has implications for the quality of our profession and the future of democracy.
Non-Tenure Track Faculty
As briefly indicated above, the non-tenure track policy established in 1996 has provided a framework of career development, economic security, and faculty rights for approximately 160 members of our bargaining unit. This policy provides recognition for the contribution of people who are primarily engaged in instruction, clinical supervision, or service by including them in, and making them more responsible to, the faculty. This innovative policy is based on the principle that people who have been doing the work of faculty should have faculty status.
Since this policy is still in the process of being implemented, we must monitor it closely by getting feedback from faculty in units across the University and especially from people with non-tenure track status. For example, we should make sure that the workloads and working conditions of instructional non-tenure track faculty are reasonable and enable them to grow intellectually, develop innovative approaches to teaching, and fully engage their students' educational needs. There is more than impressionistic and anecdotal evidence to suggest that there are instructional non-tenure track faculty who routinely teach many classes with large student enrollments that exceed the teaching loads of faculty at technical and community colleges. This situation should be viewed as unworthy of the University and be improved. We must strive to provide non-tenure track faculty with teaching loads that are in line with national AAUP standards and recommendations
There has been a major improvement in the physical and technological facilities on campus in recent years that make the University a beautiful and inviting educational environment. At the same time, however, these changes have coincided with developments that fragment the University community and undermine the enhanced physical environment.
As more University services, including food services and the bookstore, have been outsourced in order to cut expenses, there has been more distance between faculty and other University employees, who worry about their job security. There is even, as in food services, the phenomenon of workers being forced into an unfair two-tier system: one set of food-service workers is University-employed, whereas the other set is employed by an outside vendor. Many people who work on campus are no longer directly employed by the University. Their benefits are lower than University employees and, specifically, they are not eligible for tuition remission. This weakens relationships between faculty and other employees since it fragments the bond we once all shared concerning the University's educational mission.
In October 2000 issue of aaUPBEAT, I reported the results of a campus parking survey I conducted among the faculty. The survey demonstrates that many faculty are frustrated by the parking and traffic conditions that characterize our campus. Faculty are not upset because of minor inconveniences, but because the high volume of traffic and the related struggles to find parking spots affect both faculty and students in ways that have detrimental effects on classes, participation in University functions and campus safety. The survey offers clear evidence that building more parking facilities is the least favored solution to the parking and traffic mess. Rather, faculty would prefer innovative solutions based on limitations placed on the use of cars by students. At a time when the State of Delaware faces severe air pollution problems which not only threaten the health of the state's citizens but also might result in cuts in federal funds to Delaware, the University should be considering new ways to deal with traffic and parking.
In recent aaUPBEATS, there have been issues raised about ways in which corporate thinking and patterns of corporate control and governance have been increasingly introduced into institutions of higher education. Efforts on the part of state legislatures, Congress, and university governing boards to encroach on academic administration, matters of curriculum, faculty workload and tenure in the name of efficiency and business practices are rampant. At Boston University, for example, there is a movement to closely monitor faculty time devoted to office hours. The State University of New York is considering standardizing testing in subject areas across its campuses. Legislators in Ohio and Pennsylvania have questioned the value of certain faculty research topics and time spent in classroom teaching. New technologies and "Internet universities" threaten the property rights policies that have traditionally protected faculty control over, and ownership of, their courses' syllabi and scholarly writings.
The national AAUP has been aggressively confronting these issues. The union's elected officials and staff work to build alliances with other professionals and the public in order to confront these threats to academic life, free enquiry and the growth of knowledge. Last year, the AAUP joined with the Newspaper Guild in articulating the common ground that link faculty working in higher education and journalists. These include a renewed commitment to the First Amendment, academic freedom, shared governance, due process and collective bargaining; a commitment to promote and protect creators' intellectual property rights in the new technological environment; a commitment to encourage and stimulate broader access to knowledge; and a commitment to insulate intellectual work from commercial concerns and to maintain the distinction between intellectual content and commercial content.
As we press forward on the particular issues that concern us at the University of Delaware, we must strive to recognize the broader context in which the AAUP's efforts to enhance our profession's economic status occur. This broader context includes the meaning of our teaching and research for people and issues outside of academe, and the impact, on society at large, of the concepts of shared governance and collective bargaining. Building on our past successes, the collegial working relationships we have with our administrative colleagues, and the commitments we have made to the values of academic life, we can make the University of Delaware a truly exemplary institution of higher learning.