May 1st Meeting, Questions

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The May 1st meeting unfortunately left me with more questions than answers.  In part one could blame the format of the meeting, where 75% of the meeting was used up hearing what the Union Officers did during negotiations and how they interpreted the content of the changes.  All of this would have been well and good if there had been adequate time to discuss these changes with the rest of the Union membership.  From my audience seat there were some profound differences in points of view regarding the interpretation of what has now appears in print in the MOU, as well as what was given out as “informed” answers from pulpit.  There are so many serous and questionable issues that need vetting that it is difficult to begin.  Here I will bring up only a few.

There was much interest from the audience in knowing the possible results of not ratifying the contract.  The answer that was issued to the membership seemed on the surface a responsible one, in that all of us need to understand the possible extremes to any action.  However, the impression given was that a strike or imposed contract would be the inevitable result of not ratifying.  Any thinking person would realize that is not true.  There is quite a bit of wiggle room between not ratifying and a strike.  We should look at past practice, if not at Pratt but at other schools who in their recent negotiations came to impasses. What was the resulting impact to their final agreements, how many went on strike and how many didn’t.

It is questionable that it is a wise decision to hold the elections so soon after the signing of the MOU.  Once again we will be voting on a contract during the summer.  Wasn’t this a promise that was made by our Union President that this would never happen again?

Nor can I speak for proposed contract’s distribution since it seems that process remains rather vague.  Has everyone in the Union received a copy of the MOU?  School is essentially over.  In the past copies were placed in everyone’s mailboxes during the semester.  Email and the website cannot reach everyone.  Unless a faculty member is proactive and reads their messages or goes to the UFTC webpage, how is it expected that they will be informed?  As of now the MOU is still not viewable on the site.  I understand it will be soon. 

Another aspect to the meeting I found unfortunate was the lack of representation from a UFCT lawyer.  It was my understanding there would be one at the meeting.  This omission is serious, since there were a lot of legal questions that needed answering.

Most importantly, and not to be overlooked by this writer, but too numerous to cover, are the changes to the language within the contract.  If we look at what is left of the original CBA that Kye so often praised and putting aside the new additions, what remains of its former self, could be regarded, as boilerplate.  I think, an examination of what happened to it, article by article is warranted.   Once this language is changed and/or gone, it will not return.

How did we get here?  One answer is the seductive offering of the Agency Fee.  It would be helpful to get a fuller explanation of the advantages that such a fee provides to the individual faculty member, given that a lot has been sacrificed for it.  

Iona Fromboluti

8 thoughts on “May 1st Meeting, Questions

  1. sparerg

    I personally believe on the face of it the new academic clause is not as strong as the old one. But as member of the grievance team I have grown to learn that what is most important is what can be won in a grievance based on the wording in the contract. It is my opinion that we are equally capable of protecting academic freedom under this new contract language as we were under the old language. To me this is the true test of the value of language. Under the old language we were and are getting cases in which the administration is bringing up collegiality. Something that is such an anathema to academic freedom. i feel this is equally defensible , by the union, in both phrasings. In both you still cannot hit a student without cause.
    Gerson

  2. Jane Haimes

    Gerson, thanks for your much more complete explanation now of what the situation is.

    There now seems to be an even greater need for discussing and clarifying…the more openly things are presented the better. People need real information as much as possible, and will only trust the people that lead them if they feel they are being given the truth, however sobering or disappointing the news, or the outcome.

    The idea is not to be misled or made to think that something is other than what it is. The contract is admittedly not what we would like and it is a relief to get acknowledgement at least, of that.

    From there we can decide what the next best step is. It was presented in a different manner and the impression given was that it was an improvement over the last, and the changes were not nearly as restrictive as they actually are.

    I’ve been waiting for something to make some sense and I appreciate confirmation of what was thought about it.

    Gerson, thank you for the transparency about this.

    Jane

  3. ifromboluti Post author

    First I don’t see anything in the responses so far that addresses my first concern, namely the way in which the processes of informing the faculty about the contract, and the timing of the ratification vote are being conducted. There is a record of assertions about notification and discussion that were, and remain unfulfilled.

    The agency fee and the changes to the academic freedom section and other articles were all on the table during the same contract negotiation – one a gain and the others losses. Given the information provided at the last meeting and subsequently it is impossible for me, and I would assume others, to delink the two outcomes. In the view of the negotiators what was the relative value of one to the others?

    If you read my statement carefully you would realize I recognize your responsibility to caution your membership in making any steps without serious consideration of the consequences. But once again scare tactics are being used to quell any discussion of what might happen if the contract is not ratified. Direct answers, complete with historical background, would be useful.

    Iona

  4. sparerg

    Jane. It was a contract several years ago that the administration imposed. While the faculty was unhappy with the contract that was imposed, they did not chose to strike. My sentence was past tense, So i assumed that was clear
    Since Iona said it was a fact that she felt any thinking person should know. My reference was that i believed that was not a fact ( i.e.an error) You can see i do not communicate as well as i would like in writting. If the MOU is voted down the administration could impose its original change to the academic freedom that makes this one look exquisite. The faculties choice then would be to strike or accept what ever the administration has done. It is important for the faculty to discuss what their objections are and if they feel strongly about it. then see to it that the next negotiating team in 4 years try to reverse it. but for now we should be united.
    Gerson

  5. Jane Haimes

    Gerson, Is this referring to another contract at another time?
    What are you saying? What is in error?

    Why not give us substantial and complete information in a post that we can all read with satisfaction. You are the expert and a senior officer of the Union.

    We deserve to know everything that is possible. And whether the union officers, who represent the best interests of faculty, are willing to listen, and if need be, accede to faculty’s needs and renegotiate if it comes to that. At the very least we deserve a considered and complete answer.

    Help us out here.
    Jane Haimes

  6. BRBIII

    What wiggle room is there between not ratifying and going on strike? Well the wiggle room would be for the administration, and we would be throwing ourselves on their mercy. If you don’t trust them to observe academic freedom, then why do you trust them to impose a fair contract? And your belief that the agency fee was the reason for the changes in the academic freedom statement is completely in error and rather offensive as well.

    Ric Brown

  7. sparerg

    I am not saying that if the contract was not ratified and there was an imposition that the faculty would strike. I think the faculty would accept the imposition as it did in the past.
    Gerson

  8. sparerg

    I can only speak of the record at Pratt. The administration has once imposed a contract. One that the union was unhappy with.
    The faculty at Pratt has never voted to strike.
    I consider myself a thinking person. I consider you a thinking person. I think you are in error.
    Gerson

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