Grievance and Arbitration [2 of 2]

PROTECTING THE CONTRACT [Grievance Report: 2003-2004]

Grievances: [A Summary]

[I have omitted all references to the individual parties involved in the following grievances and arbitrations]…

1.) Workloads:

The vast majority of faculty grievances deal with workloads – the under and/or over-loading of part-time faculty. There are two part-time statuses, visiting and adjunct. Status is one’s employment level and determines the percentage of a full-time workload the part-timer may teach. Visiting faculty may teach no more than 50% of the full-time workload for their department, an adjunct may teach up to 75% of the full load.

[Adjuncts]

Many grievances or potential grievances lie in the workloads of adjunct faculty — wherein an adjunct with “seniority within areas of competence” is intentionally under-loaded by a department chairperson, in essence denied a full adjunct workload. If courses an adjunct is “senior” and/or “competent” to teach are granted to a visitor in place of an adjunct, a grievance may be initiated on behalf of the adjunct. The grievance is predicated on the “seniority within… clause, which is specific to adjunct workloads only. The Union defended six adjuncts this past year and was successful in preventing their being under-loaded.

[The distinction between the visiting and adjunct statuses is significant. There is no doubt that achieving adjunct status is neither a given nor easily achieved and that there are broader protections for adjuncts in the CBA — as related to evaluation and eligibility for benefits. This should mean something. The Administration’s practice of treating all part-timers alike and ignoring these clear distinctions has been divisive for the faculty and the Union.]

The Union was successful in securing the 4/3rds compensation for two adjuncts this past year. The Union’s position is that making an adjunct full-time is preferable to their being over-loaded. Barring that, the 4/3rds compensation can at least give the adjunct an equivalent full-time salary.

[Visitors] Sixty-two percent of Pratt’s faculty is visitors. Many of these visitors will eventually become adjuncts. However, the biggest difference between a visitor and an adjunct is the allowable percentage of a full load one may teach. A visitor may teach no more than 50% of a full load — unless a deviation* is requested of the Union.

*The Union’s granting of deviations from the CBA in the “over-loading” of visiting faculty members is neither a guarantee nor precedent setting. Each deviation request shalll be considered on a case-by-case basis. The Union will exercise discretion and will not grant repeated deviations for the same faculty members.

The Union requires that the deviation request meet the following two conditions:

1) The said visitor will be supported by his/her chairperson and dean should he/she apply for a status change to adjunct in the next round of faculty actions, and

2) That no current adjunct faculty member in the said visitor’s department(s) will be purposely or intentionally “under-loaded” by the granting of the said deviation.

[Nineteen deviations for part-time faculty were approved by the Union this past academic year, sixteen of which were for visitors. Likewise, both their Chair(s) and Dean supported these visitors for adjunct status change. No adjuncts were intentionally under-loaded as a result.]

There is at present, an outstanding grievance regarding two of Pratt’s graduate programs*. Both programs are being scheduled and administered with workloads that are not in compliance with the six workloads enumerated in the collective bargaining agreement. Workloads are determined by the specifics of the program/department; whether undergraduate, graduate, studio, lecture, lab, etc.

*A special allowance in the contract or the appropriate deviation request must be made of the Union. A remedy/proposal is apparently forthcoming; in the meantime, the Union has re-instated this grievance.

2.) Due Process and Academic Freedom:

Academic freedom and due process are integral to our roles as teachers and underlie the principles on which our faculty contract is predicated. The teacher who feels intimidated or the “chilling effect” of administrative procedures and/or directives that threaten one’s academic freedom or rights to due process; have a faculty Union to represent them through the grievance process. On two separate occasions this past year, the Union was asked to intervene on behalf of two faculty members, both of whom individually, found themselves in situations where charges of alleged misconduct were lodged against them by students with little or scant substantiation. In both instances, the faculty member was given little or no support from their department chairperson. In both cases, the chairperson immediately directed the complainant to Student Affairs — now involving other administrative higher ups, yet incredulously chose to neglect keeping the faculty member fully apprised of the status of the complaint.

A right to know what one is being charged with and whom one’s accuser may be seems to me, a minimum “due process” requirement. However, in both circumstances, the faculty member was never granted as much. To make matters worse, the Pratt Administration pressed both faculty members to write “apologies” – an apology for something they were not responsible for, an apology that would have been placed in their personnel files. In both cases, the Administration presented the “apology” as a “compromise.” In both cases, the Administration worried that the student’s family would pursue legal action. From the Union’s perspective, the Administration’s posture and complete lack of support for their faculty was both deeply disappointing and completely unacceptable. Both students’ eventually dropped or had dismissed their charges against these two faculty members.

3.) ARPT Process [Faculty Personnel Actions]:

Article XVI of the CBA enumerates the process for Appointment, Reappointment, Promotion and Tenure. Each department has an ARPT, “Part” or Peer Committee. When faculty members apply for any “action” [status change, promotion, etc…] their application package(s) is first submitted to their faculty peers. The ARPT Committee makes a “recommendation” or a “non-recommendation” to the department Chair. Starting at the Chair’s level, three administrative tiers [Chair, Dean and Provost] determine whether the faculty member is granted the said faculty request – the Board of Trustees finalizes all decisions at the end of the spring semester. It is critical that this process be administered properly. The faculty “shall have the opportunity to append or affix his or her comments” at each stage of this process. Faculty members have a contractual right to be fully apprised of the criteria set forth by their ARPT Committee [who shall, “develop standards of eligibility, fitness and evaluation set to best effectuate the foregoing.”]

[At this juncture — at the end of the semester, all of the final determinations are coming in. The Union is engaged in preparing a number of appeals and/or grievances regarding the ARPT process.]

4.) ‘Benefits Eligibility’ [Health Benefits & Tuition Remission]:

Adjunct faculty are entitled to purchase their health benefits through one of Pratt’s group plans and may utilize the benefit of tuition remission. Contrary to the practice of Human Resources, you may not be turned away and do have a right to these benefits if you have met the requisite years of employment…

Health Benefits:

As noted in Article XXVI section 26.1-b3, “Adjunct faculty without a CCE who have completed at least four (4) semesters of employment, will be provided with coverage under the US Healthcare plans provided to Pratt Institute administrators. Coverage shall be available for the adjunct faculty member, his/her spouse, and dependent children. The full cost of the individual or family coverage shall be borne by such insured adjunct faculty.” The key word here is employment. HR takes the position that one must be an adjunct for at least four semesters. The above contract language does not particularize “employment” as that of an adjunct. One need only be an adjunct [presently] and have been employed at Pratt for at least four semesters.

Many faculty members have shied away from signing on to a grievance that challenges the Pratt Administration’s practice of refusing adjuncts the opportunity of purchasing health benefits. Just this month, the Union filed a Step III Grievance that states, “Human Resources routinely turns away adjuncts ‘who have completed four (4) semesters of employment’ determining they are ineligible until employed four semesters as an adjunct. The Union believes that this practice violates the collective bargaining agreement.”

Tuition Remission:

As noted in article XXVII section 27.4-b, “The tuition remission program set forth in Article 27.4(a)(1), above, shall be available on a pro rata basis to the spouses and children of the adjunct faculty who have completed ten (10) or more semesters of employment. The pro-ration per semester shall be based on the faculty member’s workload in the last preceding semester as against a full-time per semester workload in the faculty member’s department.”

Again the key word here is employment. The pro-ration is based on the percentage of a full-time workload the adjunct teaches. If you teach seventy-five percentage of the full load for your department, seventy-five percent of the costs for the course(s) you, your spouse or children take will be covered – you would then be responsible for the remaining twenty-five percent of the expense.

5.) Information and Data [Article VI: Information and Data]:

“The Administration shall make available to the Union upon its reasonable request and within a reasonable time thereafter such information which is reasonably available and is related to this Collective Bargaining Agreement which is within the possession of the Administration, as may be necessary for negotiation and implementation of this Agreement.” The Union has cited this article repeatedly this past year. As you can imagine, it is imperative that the Union have all the proper information and data regarding faculty salaries, rates of compensation, medical and fringe benefits, etc – to properly prepare for negotiations and for the general operations of the faculty Union.

Unfortunately, the Administration has been loath to readily grant requested information. Arbitration was threatened twice before the Administration finally acquiesced and forwarded necessary data. Moreover, arbitration dealing with ‘Stipends and additional compensations’ [non-regularized faculty compensations that the Union has not been kept abreast of] is scheduled for November.

Cost Basis Numbers:

I have initiated an outside audit of the cost basis numbers for the ‘Aetna Open Choice PPO plan.’ This Self-Insured Plan experienced an unusual spike in its costs for the last few years and suddenly at the start of 2004 (subsequent to the Union’s queries?), has seen its costs miraculously drop by 19 to 45% [?] The faculty has a right to know what happened to the costs of this health plan.

Arbitrations: [A Summary]

1) Last summer the UFCT filed for arbitration on behalf of two Pratt librarians. On December 8, 2003 the UFCT won this arbitration. The initial grievance was based on the accrual/allotment of vacation days. The administration settled, agreeing that each librarian was due thirty-two days of full compensation.

2) Last summer the UFCT filed for arbitration concerning a communiqué sent by an Institute Dean directing chairpersons not to provide information to Union representatives. It was the Union’s position that the Dean’s advisement violated articles I [Recognition], VI [Information and Data] and VII [Grievance and Arbitration, 7.2.] The Pratt Administration requested a postponement just prior to the scheduled arbitration date of January 12th, acknowledging their non-compliance with the contract. [Settlement language is still being reviewed and conditional upon Union approval.]

3) Last fall the UFCT filed for arbitration concerning Article XXV [Ratio of Full-Time Faculty to Part-Time Faculty] According to section: 25.1, "Pratt Institute agrees to maintain the ratio of full-time faculty to part-time faculty at no less than existing during the 1993-94 academic years." The ratio of full-time faculty to part-time faculty was 20% FT to 80% PT in the 1993-94 academic years. The ratio for the 2003-2004 academic years is: 13.5% FT to 86.5% PT. [Truth be told, the Administration has been in violation of the contract for at least five years.] Using the Administration's own faculty numbers I filed a Step III grievance this past fall. At both the informal and formal stages of the grievance process I let the Administration know that I would be willing to "stop the clock" on the grievance when and if they would decide to include the faculty in on a plan that would best "fit" Pratt Institute; to determine a ratio that is both attainable and sustainable and would bring the Institute into compliance with the contract. This gesture was rebuffed.

[During our first mediation session on: May 5th, the mediator suggested that the Union postpone this arbitration – rationalizing that its contentiousness is a hurdle for negotiations and that more importantly, this issue should be addressed during mediation. We have agreed to postpone the arbitration until December.]

4) This spring the UFCT filed for arbitration concerning the overloading of an adjunct faculty member. A fully loaded adjunct (teaching 75% or more of a full load) was granted, “one quarter of a full-time load as release time, or its equivalent.” Whether as release or equivalent stipend this “quarter of a full-time load,” when added to a full adjunct workload, loads this adjunct as a full-timer and therefore, entitles them to an equivalent full-time salary. The non-existence of stipends in the contract notwithstanding, the Administration is in violation of Articles XX [Workload] and XXII [Part-Time Faculty.] Arbitration is scheduled for September.

5) This spring the UFCT filed for arbitration concerning the Administration’s refusal to forward Institute-wide “stipends and additional compensations.” The Administration is in violation of Articles I [Recognition], II [Administration-Union Relationships] and VI [Information and data] of the CBA. Arbitration is scheduled for November.

6) This spring the UFCT filed for arbitration concerning faculty tenure. The Administration has told a number of sitting chairpersons they have tenure should they return to, or enter the faculty ranks. In granting “faculty” tenure to chairpersons who are administrative personnel, the Administration actually acknowledges that tenure can only be bestowed on faculty; that the day a chairperson becomes a member of the faculty they will have tenure. Yet, the conferral of tenure by this practice contravenes the CBA. Article XVI section 16.2, establishes the departmental peer committee for evaluation of faculty.

The ARPT faculty committee makes recommendations to the department chairperson. It is neither appropriate nor a function of the peer committee that these faculty members evaluate their chairperson (they being subordinates not “peers” to the said chairperson). This practice therefore violates the language, spirit and intent of Article XVI.

Kye Carbone, President UFCT Local 1460

Grievance Committee:

Gerson Sparer

Kye Carbone

Irving Perlman