Strengthening the AAUP
Executive Council to Decide on $20K to Build National Endowment
Since its founding in 1915 by John Dewey and Arthur Lovejoy, the AAUP has been the authoritative voice of the faculty for academic freedom, tenure, and shared governance. In more recent decades, it has played a pivotal role in shaping higher education’s understanding of and commitment to women’s equity, cultural and racial diversity, and the economic status of the faculty in academic life. Through the activities of its staff, committees and its Policy Documents and Reports, the principles and policies articulated by the AAUP permeate academic life throughout the United States and, indeed, the world. Moreover, as exemplified by our chapter, the AAUP provides a unique form of faculty collective bargaining rooted in academic excellence, faculty participation and leadership, and local autonomy.
It is truly remarkable that the AAUP’s continuing impact on academic life has been based financially almost solely on members’ dues. Up to this point in its history, the Association has not had a general endowment. To be sure, the AAUP does have somewhat less that $1 million in funds dedicated to specific purposes such as the legal defense of cases that raise key academic issues, international academic freedom, and research and analysis of public policy issues in higher education. Yet the Association’s everyday operations depend almost exclusively on members’ dues. The absence of a firm and sustained financial base limits the Association’s activities and burdens its highly committed staff.
With threats to higher education abounding in the current political and economic climate, the need for a strong AAUP has never been greater. Growing costs for health insurance, security, fuel, and technology replacements pose serious threats to higher education and to the autonomy of colleges and universities. Both in Congress and in state legislatures, limitations for funding of higher education are coupled with demands for accountability, campus consolidation and program cuts that are formulated in narrow notions of economic efficiency. Especially since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, there have been persistent efforts on the part of activists and legislators to politicize academic life, to shape science to particular ideological and policy goals, and to marginalize the role of the faculty in campus governance.
The Association’s leadership has determined to provide a stable and secure source of funding so that the AAUP can enhance its work in defining, defending, and disseminating the values of academic life. For the first time in its history, the AAUP’s national Council has approved and initiated a capital campaign to create a $ 10 million endowment. Gifts to this campaign will go to an Endowment Fund which will support the operations of national AAUP. Interest from this fund will enable the AAUP to better meet the current challenges to higher education and to undertake new initiatives for academic freedom, shared governance and other principles that faculty members share.
As the leadership of a strong and financially healthy AAUP chapter, the Executive Council will decide on making a pledge of $20,000 to the Endowment Fund in December. If agreed upon, this pledge will be fulfilled by payments of $5,000 over four years. Given our chapter’s strong financial position, this commitment will not affect either everyday operations, current chapter dues or any emergencies which may arise. Indeed, contributions to the Endowment Fund would constitute an investment in national AAUP to better serve our local chapter and the basic principles we share.
Should AAUP members have any questions, comments, advice or insights for the Executive Council, please e-mail them to the AAUP office. Your input is important for this decision.
UD Retiree Health Care Benefits
During contract negotiations last February, the Administration proposed that a committee be established to discuss the current health care program for retirees. That proposal is now coming to fruition. The committee includes members of the Administration and representatives of the AAUP.
The committee’s main purpose is to review and consider Administration claims that increasing costs for retired faculty’s current health care program negatively impact the University’s budget and therefore changes must be made in the program. Although the Administration has stated it is considering no modifications that would affect current bargaining unit members or current retired faculty, the issue of whether any changes should be made at all is far from settled.
The committee will hold its first meeting in December before the end of this semester. The committee includes (from the Administration) Bobby Gempeshaw. Ken Lewis, Eric Jacobson, Larry Siedman and (from the AAUP) David Colton, Leon Campbell and Patricia Barber.
The AAUP will keep faculty informed of the committee’s work through the AAUP Voice and through open Steering Committee meetings.
Health Care: The National Context
Dealing with illness or injury is an increasingly expensive ordeal. Of course, for some the expense is more burdensome than for others. As with the cost of higher education or the cost of food, the greater one’s individual or family income the more able one is to purchase the product or service -- in this case, health care.
But as important as economic class is to the issue of who does and does not receive health care, the trend of higher health care costs accompanied by reduced health care benefits is taking its toll on everyone. This was made clear in a recent Kaiser Family Foundation study summarized in The New York Times last month on October 23. The study found that from 2000 to 2005, employees in preferred provider insurance plans experienced a 76 percent rise in their premiums and an 85 percent increase in their deductibles. Such a growth in costs, outpacing the inflation rate, places a strain not only on the low-income but also on others previously thought to be better protected against health-related expenses.
Making the health cost issue even more problematic is the shattering effect it can have on a family’s overall economic stability. Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard law professor and recently the chief adviser to the National Bankruptcy Review Commission, told USA Today earlier this year that the health care crisis begins with, but does not end with, the fact that “Families are paying more and more for health insurance that covers them less and less."
Where the health care crisis often does end, Warren has argued in articles, books and interviews with analysts like Bill Moyers, is in bankruptcy. And she has the numbers to prove it. As a participant in a Harvard research study that entailed interviews across the nation with 1,771 people filing for bankruptcy, she found that approximately two million people annually are catapulted into bankruptcy by health-related issues. Of these two million, the average out of pocket medical debt is $12,000. But as Warren wrote in the Washington Post in February of this year, the biggest surprise for her “was that three-quarters of the medically bankrupt had health insurance.” In other words, even among those supposedly best suited to handle health emergencies, the effect of higher costs is having a devastating impact as, in Warren’s words, “high co-payments, deductibles, exclusions from coverage and other loopholes” leave them “holding the bag for thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs when serious illness struck.”
As health care costs rise and health benefits shrink, there is a lot of political rhetoric about the need to help out the working and middles classes, but little action. In fact, if anything, the fervor for “solving” the problem by shifting even more health costs onto the consumer has grown. Just as higher education continues to undergo a transformation (i.e., corporatization) designed to make advanced learning more “functional” and less analytical, so the nation’s health care delivery system is being reorganized to protect companies (i.e., the health insurance companies themselves as well as companies that provide their employees with health benefits) from costs that can be downsized by shifting them to the consumer.
The Most Recent Example of Health Care Cuts
In 1953, General Motors President Charles Wilson said, “What’s good for General Motors is good for the country.”
Although this quote is not what Wilson actually said but is rather a paraphrase, the quote nonetheless has survived in the national imagination as one that encapsulates the idea that prioritizing corporate well-being guarantees employee well-being.
Today, there is more than a touch of irony associated with Wilson’s words. Not only has GM’s pursuit of company well-being led to the elimination of tens of thousands of jobs over recent years, resulting in greater workloads for remaining workers and a consequent rise in repetitive stress injuries, but just this month GM became the most recent example of the corporate march to shift health care costs to employees and retirees.
The GM cuts, which were not minor, adds a troubling dimension to the idea that what’s good for General Motors is good for the country. The concessions included (1) a “defined contribution” clause which gives the company greater flexibility in increasing workers’ out-of-pocket costs, (2) the removal of health care issues from the next contract negotiations in 2007, (3) major cost increases for 85.9% of all UAW retirees and (4) new wage-gain restrictions on active workers.
Although GM’s victory over the company’s workers was hailed by Wall St., others saw the supposed victory as misleading in regard to who is at fault for GM’s problems. As the Boston Globe said on Oct. 22:
“It would be a mistake to conclude that high wages or excess health benefits are bankrupting US industry. Look at our competitors. Japanese labor costs in the auto industry are comparable to American ones and German wages are far higher.
“There are, however, two offsetting differences. First, the Japanese and Germans are ahead technologically and have a knack for making reliable cars that consumers want to buy. Second, their healthcare is financed socially (i.e., national single-payer health care).
“So GM’s biggest problem is not labor costs; it’s that except for its profitable SUVs (which are becoming white elephants as gas prices rise), too few consumers are buying GM’s products. When management makes dumb decisions about design, quality, or marketing, autoworkers end up paying the price.”
For employees facing potential health cuts, it is necessary to analyze the rationale for the proposed cuts very closely. Although corporate notions of creating economic health through cost-cutting and cost-shifting are not wrong by definition, it is nonetheless clear that they can be, if unchecked by a counter-analysis, self-serving.
Already in the U.S., more money is spent on health care for a smaller percent of the population than in any other industrialized nation. Given this, it seems beyond question that the corporate model for health care is not working. In fact, given the nature of the market, it is reasonable to assume this possibility: that the fewer the number of people able to afford health care, the higher will be the cost for those who can afford it. This cycle incrementally excludes an ever higher percent of the population from adequate health care coverage.
Know Your Contract
Article 11.2 on Faculty Workload
The Collective Bargaining Agreement gives primary responsibility to the faculty members of a department/unit for its workload policy. Article 11.2 states that “workload policies shall be developed by the faculty of the academic unit and reviewed and approved by the chair or unit head, the appropriate dean, and the AAUP Contract Maintenance Officer and the Provost.” The faculty within an academic unit has the prerogative to reconsider their existing workload policy, revise it, and submit it for review. The workload policies for academic units in the University are online and may be found at http://www.udel.edu/provost/documents.hmtl.
Special Salary Adjustments
Adjustments Given in Accord with Article 12.8 of Contract by Leon Campbell
Each year the AAUP Contract Maintenance Officer ( CMO ) receives a list of the names of faculty designated to receive special salary adjustments under Article 12.8 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
The list includes the adjustment amount for each recipient and the reasons the adjustments were made.
The CMO reviews the list with the Vice President for Administration to certify that the awards are for equity, market, market and equity and retention. The CMO reports on the salary adjustments to the AAUP Executive Council.
The amount of money distributed each year varies depending upon the funds available. Sufficient funds are not usually available to meet all of the needs of the colleges and some adjustments may be spread over two or more years The funds for 2005-2006 were distributed to faculty in all seven colleges as follows:
Equity ($55,411), Market ($245,691), and Retention ($63,429) for a total of $364,531 to bargaining unit faculty. The largest college, the College of Arts & Sciences, distributed a total of $154,614 for all categories.
The $364,531 allocated for 2005-2006 under Article 12.8 were distributed by rank as follows:
Full Professors, $257,143, Associate Professors $57,515, Assistant Professors $47,873 and Instructors $2,000.
Individual faculty members may send a request to the chair of the department, the AAUP Contract Maintenance Officer or the Assistant Vice President for Institutional Research and Planning to conduct a salary equity analysis to determine whether or not salary adjustments under Article 12.8 may be warranted.
In 2006 there will be a five-week window of opportunity from January 23, 2006 and ending on February 28, 2006 to respond to any and all formal requests for faculty salary equity analysis. Requests made after February 28, 2006 will not be processed.
The results of the salary equity analysis conducted are sent to the dean of the appropriate college for review and discussion with the department chair of the faculty member making the request.
The recommendations of chairs are advisory to the deans. Ultimately, the Provost reviews all proposed salary adjustments and decides whether or not to authorize them. In keeping with University policy, individuals’ salaries are kept confidential throughout this process.
Any questions regarding these special salary adjustments should be addressed to Leon Campbell, AAUP Contract Maintenance Officer at 831-6767 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
AAUP Executive Officers Elected
The four members of the Executive Council slate who ran in the recent election were voted into their respective offices.
The officers are:
Linda Bucher, reelected as President.
Sheldon D. Pollack, reelected as Treasurer.
Danilo Yanich, reelected as Vice President.
Kevin Kerrane, elected as Secretary.