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Faculty Association considers revisions

The newly adopted Collective Bargaining Agreement for faculty contracts is approaching the halfway point to its expiration. As the deadline approaches, the University Faculty Association is starting to think about revisions for a second contract.

While political science associate professor and President of the Faculty Association David Jackson said the agreement is a vast improvement to the previous contract, he has plans for the association to make more improvements.

“What we’ve learned about the faculty contract here is that some parts are working very well and some parts just aren’t,” said Jackson. “Our expectation is to be negotiating the next contract starting in the summer of 2015.”

The Collective Bargaining Agreement, effective from May 1, 2013, to July 1, 2016, is a series of negotiations between the University and the Faculty Association as a way to ensure the proper treatment of faculty. It deals with both tenure track and non-tenure track faculty but has separate agreements for non-tenure track contracts.

Although each contract is separate, most non-tenured staff start with four years of an annually renewable contract before they move onto a contract that is renewable every three years. Jackson said that along with better job security, salaries and benefits, he would like to see a longer-term seniority system to prevent experienced staff from losing their jobs.

“It is a legitimate concern because this university has shown in the last two years that they’re willing to fire over 100 of the faculty,” Jackson said. “That still leaves an awful taste in a lot of people’s mouths and is a reason for a lot of the low faculty morale.”

Although firing large amounts of faculty isn’t ideal, Vice Provost for Academic Operations and Assessment Joe Frizado said keeping everyone on a secure tenure track contract would be hugely ineffective and renewable contracts are needed to keep the University moving forward.

“When we make a mistake in hiring a faculty member, we as an institution pay a price,” said Frizado. “To really have a quality institution for a large number of students over time, you have to walk the line between what is truly foundational … and yet at the same time, making sure student demand is met.”

According to Vice President for Faculty Affairs and Strategic Initiatives Bill Balzer, each of the 225 non-tenure track faculty members knew there could be a potential lack of job security as soon as they saw the ad for the position they applied for.

“All of that is out in the advertisement that we do for the position and it’s up to the prospective faculty member to decide if it’s the right kind of employment agreement that they’re interested in,” Balzer said. “The mix [of contracts] allows us to meet student needs while making sure the University keeps moving forward.”

Until the Faculty Association begins writing the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, Jackson is focusing on enforcing the contract and finding solutions to grievance issues between faculty and the University. Even as a tenured faculty member, he hopes the changes in the new agreement result in improvements for

non-tenured faculty.

“It shouldn’t matter if you’re called tenure track or non-tenure track. We’re all doing the same job in terms of service to the University,” Jackson said. “Allowing one group of faculty to be treated more poorly than the other is completely unfair. We’re working – and always will be working – to

improve that.”

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