September 2000 aaUPBEAT
Issues at the Start of a New Academic Year
The AAUP & You
The University of Delaware chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) is the faculty union at our institution and is affiliated with the national AAUP.
Our local chapter doesn't just represent its dues-paying members. All faculty members, regardless of their AAUP status, receive the rewards of AAUP representation. Salary increases, benefits and workplace rights that AAUP negotiators win at the bargaining table belong to every University faculty member. And whether or not you are a AAUP member, the protections afforded by the AAUP grievance system are available to you. This means that even the non-AAUP faculty member has a place to go for redress in cases involving discrimination, promotion inequities, punitive salary decisions, or other forms of anti-faculty behavior.
None of this can occur without constant vigilance. Bread and butter economic issues as well as workplace protections must constantly be scrutinized to assure faculty members' well-being during changing times. In our last contract, the AAUP strengthened the faculty's situation in a number of ways. We won greater faculty control over departmental chairperson selections, more money for health and eye examinations, increased payment for one-year sabbaticals (it is now 75% of regular pay rather than 50%), and salary increases that are ahead of the current inflation rate.
Next year the AAUP will negotiate another contract with the Administration. And once again the gains we win will go to all faculty members. We're doing our part, so why not do yours? If you aren't yet a union member join now.
The AAUP's purpose is to protect, and promote the interests of, UD faculty. In this sense, we are a typical union whose mission is to assist members on a number of levels, ranging from economic security to protection against work overloads. But the AAUP is also different than other unions. We have unique concerns related to education and research. One of those concerns is to conceptualize, and make the Administration aware of, specific ways in which the University can deepen its commitment to educational excellence and to creating the kind of campus life in which a wide variety of people from diverse backgrounds can productively participate.
The Administration recently informed state legislators that the University has a $570 million annual impact on the state economy, which makes UD a major economic, as well as academic, force in the life of the state. One of the AAUP's tasks is to make sure this force is used effectively for educational purposes and not squandered. In late August, the U.S. Education Department reported that during the 1990s public school test scores in reading and science stagnated and the test scores gap between whites on the one hand and blacks and Hispanics on the other widened. What impact do such facts have on higher education? In what ways can faculty guide the Administration withe regard to the development of policies that will lessen such realities' negative impact on UD's academic life?
All these questions are questions the AAUP takes seriously. From faculty members' economic condition to a wide range of policy issues, we are there, representing you. Faculty members have nothing to gain by not supporting the union's work. As already stated, all faculty benefit from the AAUP's existence, whether or not they are dues-paying members.
Although a few of UD's non-AAUP faculty may have philosophical reasons (e.g., a disbelief in unions) for not joining, most non-members are not philosophically anti-union. So, if you aren't a member, please do not remain a non-member out of lethargy or self-absorption. Don't be someone who benefits from union activity without giving anything back. Refusing to join only diminishes your individual power on campus. The smaller the AAUP, the weaker its negotiating power; the larger the union is, the greater its negotiating power and the more you -- and everyone else -- will benefit.
This is an especially important issue as we begin readying ourselves for the next contract negotiations.
A note to new faculty: join the AAUP and your local dues will be waved for the first year; you will be responsible only for your national dues. In addition, non-tenure track faculty pay only half of their national dues for their first four years of membership.
Women's Studies & the Issue of Part-Timers
The AAUP wants to acknowledge the Administration's efforts, as well as those of the new Director of Women's Studies, in finally resolving the plight of the two women who teach the program's entry level courses. In spite of the fact that in most departments in the College of Arts and Sciences their course loads would have made them full-time, both women were kept in continuing half-time assistant professorships for more than eight years. This problem has been taken care of. The women now hold full-time faculty positions.
One reason for this change is AAUP activism. Beginning in 1996-97, we pushed for a reconsideration of the Women Studies' situation. We did this because we had a number of concerns.
First, the two women were the only faculty members holding appointments exclusively in Women's Studies. Unfortunately, the significance of those appointments was undermined by their half-time status, which seemed to exemplify the discrimination that in general haunts women in the workforce, where women are disproportionately relegated to low-paying and part-time work. The AAUP found it ironic that Women's Studies, which is based on the premise that examining women's role in society is a necessary first step in abolishing gender inequity, should itself be the site of inequity.
Second, we were concerned that the plight of these two women reflected another problem: that at UD, women faculty are concentrated in the lower paying, less prestigious positions. For instance, approximately 60 percent of the University's permanent part-time faculty are women and about 70 percent of the University's non-tenure track instructors are women. At the other end of the spectrum, women hold only about 15 percent of the institution's full professorships; in fact, in the entire College of Engineering, there is only one female full professor. When such numbers are combined with the fact that African-Americans continue to make up only 3 percent of University faculty, it becomes clear that we face a serious diversity problem on the UD campus.
Once we raised these issues, other forces joined the fray. On April 25, 1997, The Review published an editorial stating that the problem of "women's representation in campus employment" should be dealt with along the lines laid out by the AAUP. Three days later on April 28, The News Journal ran a front page story which found the AAUP's concern with the need for greater gender equity on campus to be well grounded; the paper also published an editorial advising the UD Administration to "reassess the women faculty and pay them fairly rather than taking advantage of them." Support also came from other quarters when (1) the Women's Studies Advisory Committee voted to recommend to the Administration that the two female faculty members in question should be elevated to full-time status and (2) the president of the Wilmington branch of the American Association of University Women wrote a letter to the Administration urging that the two faculty members be made full-time.
Now the problem is finally resolved and for this the AAUP, as stated above, is grateful to the Administration and also to the Women's Studies' new director. Still, the process took longer than necessary. There was never any doubt what should be done, only about when it would be done. Given the accuracy of the AAUP's analysis, this issue clearly could have been resolved earlier. The task of solving some of the University's other problems related to equity/diversity issues must be dealt with in a more timely manner if the Administration wants the 21st century's first decade to be one of significant advancement for our institution.
The Next Round of Collective Bargaining
In preparation for our upcoming round of collective bargaining next year, we will periodically publish articles on bargaining-related matters in the newsletter. We plan to cover topics concerning the economics of academia, improvements in benefits, UD's diversity problems, issues related to retirement, workloads for non-tenure track faculty, and so on. The purpose of such articles will be to keep you informed about the executive council's perspectives with regard to certian issues and also to seek your input on those issues.
Also, if you have any special issues you'd like to see included in collective bargaining, let us know. Contact David Colton at 831-1863 or email@example.com.
Local AAUP Contributes to Legal Defense Fund
The local AAUP contributes $500 yearly to the national AAUP's Legal Defense Fund. The Defense Fund supports academia-related cases at the trial and appellate levels. The Fund concentrates on cases pertaining to academics' legal rights with regard to their professional tasks and work environments. The Fund is particularly committed to dealing with cutting-edge cases that can establish precedents with regard to fleshing out the meaning of academic freedom and fairness.
Below are three recent cases in which the Legal Defense Fund has been active.
Southern Christian Leadership Conference v. Louisiana Supreme Court. After the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic successfully represented people who were opposed to the construction of a chemical factory in a low-income, African-American community, the Louisiana Supreme Court rewrote existing legislation in order to limit the types of clients that law school clinics are allowed to represent. Professors, students and others challenged this ruling, claiming it violated law professors' freedom to design hands-on, clinic-based learning experiences for their law students.
In conjunction with the Association of American Law Schools and other organizations, the AAUP has supported those challenging the Louisiana Supreme Court's decision by filing an amicus brief with the federal appellate court. In part, the brief's logic is rooted in the understanding that higher education isn't confined to the traditional classroom, but often extends into community and workplace environments where the links between abstract thought and practical activity are discovered. In this sense, the clinical programs which the Louisiana Supreme Court tried to limit were higher education learning zones that the government could alter only by restricting professors' academic freedom to select and design their own teaching methods.
Kimel v. Florida Board of Regents. Last year the AAUP Defense Fund aligned itself with the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and other groups to fight an age discrimination issue relevant to higher education. The issue arose when a Florida public employee wanted to sue for monetary damages under federal age discrimination law. Florida courts, however, ruled that public employees cannot sue state agencies, including colleges and universities, for monetary damages under the federal government's age discrimination statues. On January, 11, 2000, the United States Supreme Court heard the case on appeal. Unfortunately, the court ruled in favor of the original decision and proclaimed that state institutions possess "sovereign immunity" under the Eleventh Amendment and therefore can't be sued.
Another, related case has occurred in Colorado. In Pawlowski v. Regents of the University of Colorado, the issue is whether institutions of higher learning are immune from monetary damages in suits brought against them under the Equal Pay Act (EPA), which prohibits wage discrimination between men and women performing the same or substantially similar work. Dr. Cheryl Pawlowski, a member of the Communications Department at the University of Colorado, brought suit against her school for a number of reasons, including wage discrimination as defined in the EPA. A jury found in her favor. However, the university has appealed the decision, arguing that it is not liable in such situations because it possesses sovereign immunity under the Eleventh Amendment.
Given the AAUP Legal Defense Fund's work on such cases, the Delaware AAUP feels it is appropriate to keep contributing to the Fund.