March 2005 aaUPBEAT
What You Need To Know
Just Cause and Union Finances
The policy which governs termination of tenured
faculty at the University of Delaware is specified in the Faculty
Handbook and can be accessed online. This policy, which was established
and placed in the Faculty Handbook in 1993, is well developed —
as far as it goes. However, it provides no role for the AAUP at any
level of the termination hearings. Consequently, a faculty member who
is the subject of termination proceedings is not protected by the AAUP.
In defining tenured faculty termination, existing policy
states that a termination case begins when "an appropriate
administrator sends a faculty member a letter of intent to terminate
for one of the causes enumerated in the Faculty Handbook, III, N
(incompetence, gross irresponsibility, or moral turpitude)."
Additionally, the policy distinguishes between a "termination case" and
a "grievance case," and specifically states that a termination
proceeding is not the same as a grievance action which is handled in a
separate manner, according to the grievance procedure as outlined in
the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
The above is only the briefest summary of UD's termination
policy, which is fourteen pages long. The full policy elaborates a host
of due process rights and features. These include (1) the faculty
member's right to refuse a hearing, (2) the fact that the burden of
proof is on the Administration, not the faculty member, during the
case, and (3) the faculty member's right to be represented by an
advisor, including an attorney. Also, the policy sets forth stringent
procedures that must be followed by the Senate Committee on Welfare and
Privileges, which is the committee before which the termination
proceedings occur, although the committee does not make the final
decision regarding termination. Instead, the committee is obligated to
"provide a copy of its opinion to the Provost and to each party."
The Provost is the ultimate authority in determining whether a
faculty member should or should not be terminated. Although the
committee's recommendation can be appealed to the Provost by either the
faculty member under scrutiny or the administrator who has brought
charges against him/her, once the Provost makes a decision, the
decision is final. No further appeal or any other challenge can be made
at this point. If the decision is to terminate, the faculty member is
relieved of his/her duties.
In cases where the Provost has initiated the proceedings
against the faculty member, if the Senate Committee on Welfare and
Privileges concludes that the faculty member should be terminated, no
further appeal can be made and the faculty member is relieved of
her/his duties. On the other hand, if in such a case the Senate
Committee on Welfare and Privileges concludes that the Provost's
rationale for termination is not correct, the Provost has the final
say. The committee's role is advisory and without power to veto or
modify the Provost's decision.
As the above summary makes clear, UD termination policy is
insulated from protections that would inevitably result from AAUP
oversight. Instead, the AAUP has no presence at the hearings and no
right to grieve an unjust termination. Should the Administration
terminate a tenured faculty member, the AAUP is kept virtually
powerless, thereby denying faculty members access to AAUP protection
precisely when they need it most.
No wonder an overwhelming majority (about 90%) of faculty
members who answered the AAUP survey on collective bargaining issues
supported inclusion of a "just cause" provision in the Collective
Bargaining Agreement. They recognize that the central role played by
the AAUP in protecting faculty rights should be extended to this most
fundamental of all conditions of employment: job security and freedom
from unjust accusations or excessive disciplinary measures. The members
of both the Executive Council and the Steering Committee strongly
support faculty concerns regarding this matter. For this reason, the
Bargaining Team has presented a "just cause" provision to the
Administration at the bargaining table.
Just cause provisions serve at least three fundamental
purposes: (1) they maximize faculty security by formalizing the union's
role in protecting faculty from unjust termination proceedings, (2),
they guarantee that the termination process for tenured faculty meet
the criteria established by University policies and existing law and
(3) they provide legally binding language that protects faculty against
the use of a termination process for the purpose of restricting or in
any other way violating academic freedom.
Given this background, it is clear that the absence of a just
cause provision in UD's AAUP-Administration contract is a shortcoming
in need of rectification. As long as the union is marginalized in terms
of termination policy, faculty are denied full protection.
This is why it is important to look at other institutions'
faculties to see how they have handled similar dilemmas. The University
of Vermont and branches of the Michigan system, for instance, have just
cause provisions for the reasons discussed above. Other institutions,
like Rutgers University, outdo UD by having more detailed protection
language in their collective bargaining agreements than we do here.
A fully developed just cause provision makes termination a
grievable issue, thereby maximizing the union's power to protect
faculty. Anyone who doubts the need to do this underestimates the
degree to which termination criteria can be ambiguous and therefore
subject to administrative misinterpretation, abuse, or misapplication
due to ignorance of the law. To adequately offset such potential
problems, it is not sufficient to establish a faculty committee that
possesses only advisory status. What is necessary, instead, is defining
the termination process in such a way that the faculty, through the
AAUP, possess the actual power to counter, and rectify when necessary,
Administration mistakes or abuses.
Faculty should not fall into the trap of thinking "such things
don't happen here." As recently as 2002, a part-time instructor in the
English Department was suspended without due process because a
student's parent complained that the faculty member had responded
rudely to an email from the student pertaining to a class. Although, as
the result of strong AAUP action, the Administration eventually
reversed its decision and agreed to provide back pay, the
Administration's initial impulse to suspend without due process stands
as a reminder of the dangers of the Administration's unchecked power to
suspend or dismiss.
Given the current political climate, with its attempts to
pressure higher education into adopting a more consumerist and less
Socratic approach to education, it is a practical matter to make sure
that academic freedom protections are in place.
"A strong surplus and low dues!"
Over the past ten years, the AAUP has accumulated considerable
cash balances. This accumulation is the result of prudent investment
decisions, careful management, and an effort to keep costs low. The
AAUP is largely run by the officers who contribute their services and
work with relatively little in the way of paid support.
The AAUP's cash reserves are an important source of our
- The money earned on reserves helps to keep dues low. At UD,
an AAUP member's local dues and national dues combined ($130 local +
$143 national = $273) are lower than the local dues alone at many other
comparable institutions. For instance, at Rutgers the combined local
and national dues is 0.65% of salary, which means faculty members will
pay from $325-$650 as salary ranges from $50,000 to $100,000. At New
Hampshire local and national dues amounts to 0.5% of salary —
which for most faculty will be more than what UD faculty pay.
- Our cash reserves insure that the AAUP can cover the cost
of whatever legal or other actions might arise during contract
- Our cash reserves enable us to support legal challenges
and/or file grievances to protect faculty rights and to guarantee
correct implementation of the collective bargaining agreement.
- We have used our resources to support academic freedom and
legal challenges to the chapter.
- We employ an office manager and fund publication of a
monthly union newsletter.
- We recently hired a consultant to update and expand our
- We recently increased our undergraduate student awards from
$1000 to $2000.
December 31, 2004
The following were the un-audited cash receipts and
disbursements for the University of Delaware Chapter of the AAUP for
the year ending December 31, 2004.
Beginning Cash Balance: $302,859
|Dues Paid to National AAUP
|Legal and Accounting
|Postage and Supplies
|Newsletter (outside editorial)
|Dues and Subscriptions
|National AAUP Conferences & Meetings
|Repairs & Maintenance
Ending Cash Balance: $345,038
Net gain (loss): $ 42,179
Anyone wishing more information, please call the AAUP office
Sheldon D. Pollack, Treasurer
Although you are not currently an AAUP member, the AAUP
represents you in the current contract negotiations with the
Administration. This means that all salary, benefits, and academic
freedom improvements which are won during negotiations will be
improvements for you as well as for the union's members.
But why sit back and continue to be a non-member when, by the
mere act of joining the AAUP, you can help us to win even better
improvements than we might otherwise win? "How can this be so?" you
might ask. Well, the answer is simple: the bargaining team's greatest
negotiating strength is the number of AAUP members that
stands behind the team as we try to improve the faculty's conditions of
The bigger and more active we are, the more power we have; it
is as clear-cut as that.
Therefore, join the AAUP and show your support for a cost
of living adjustment, enhanced medical benefits, and a just
cause contract provision to protect faculty employment.
Fill out the dues deduction card NOW and send it to the AAUP