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June Newsletter

In this June newsletter, we provide a final update from Spring and preview upcoming work for this Fall.


We will cover the following:


  • Bylaws Revision Update

  • Agency Fee Implementation

  • Reflections from the Grievance Committee

  • AY 24/25 installment of the Equalization Fund

  • September General Membership Meeting


BYLAWS REVISION UPDATE

At the end of Academic Year 23/24, union members were invited to provide comments on a draft revision of our Constitution and Bylaws. Early this summer, the Executive Committee worked with our parent union, NYSUT, and one of our labor lawyers to synthesize the feedback. The result was a third draft that was given to members of the Delegates Assembly, who has sent it back to the EC for revisions. Presently, the Executive Committee is working on a fourth draft in dialogue with the Bylaws Committee and the Delegates Assembly.


Of note, NYSUT approved the language around clarifying voter eligibility and election protocols. They had some suggestions about how to resolve the concerns expressed by members around the novel Representative Council. They recommended that we explore mechanisms for elevating the Delegates Assembly to an elected body, eliminating the need for a wholly novel body.


Beginning in September, we will hold a series of town halls with the membership focused on deciding between two paths forward:


1- Seek ratification of a few simple bylaws changes that focus on clarifying language regarding expanded voter eligibility, election protocols, and changes to our regressive dues structure, while omitting any major changes in governance.   


Or


2- Pursue a more comprehensive revision that seeks to transform the Delegates Assembly into an elected body assigned with some of the legislative powers previously assigned to the Executive Committee. 


AGENCY FEE IMPLEMENTATION

Starting next year, Pratt Institute will begin enforcing an agency fee for faculty who have not joined the union, per the language of the contract. An agency fee is a payment equal to union dues* and has been part of our Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) since 2007.


Article 32 of the CBA states:


“(32.1) As a condition of employment, all unit members shall be required to (i) become a member of the Union, or (ii) pay an agency fee …. (32.2) The Institute agrees that any unit member who does not comply with section 1 within the first semester of service or within any subsequent year will not be reappointed …”


Everyone is required to pay their fair share for the work the union does for them, as stipulated by our contract. All faculty, regardless of union membership status, receive full and fair protections from the union. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to join the union, but if some faculty feel they would rather not, they are free to pay an equivalent agency fee instead.


As this goes into effect in Fall, we will be asking long serving faculty that have not yet become members to join the union. We ask for your help in standing together and building solidarity. We understand that some of our colleagues simply don’t know that there is a faculty union, or think they are automatically a member, so spread the word! Help us by asking fellow faculty if they are members and help them sign up if they are not.  


While the costs of dues and agency fees are nearly the same, being a union member comes with perks. Membership gives you a vote, not just on electing officers, but voting on a future on CBA, or a vote on the upcoming bylaws revisions. Most importantly, it gives you a seat at the table, and sends a powerful message to the administration that we all stand shoulder to shoulder.


Join with us in the fight to preserve and GROW the rights afforded us by the CBA!


It is our hope that every faculty member in our nearly 1500 member Bargaining Unit will choose to join rather than sit on the sidelines and pay an agency fee because more members means more power. If we can reach our goal of becoming a supermajority union before the next negotiations, it will give us tremendous collective power to push for better benefits, higher compensation, and greater protection from exploitation. 


Regardless of if you decide to become a union member, or simply become an agency fee payer, please fill out this form, so that you are in compliance with the contract before the semester begins.


*Current rates for both dues and fees are 1% (pre-tax) for faculty making under 60k, and .85% for those making more than 60K.  


REFLECTIONS FROM THE GRIEVANCE COMMITTEE

In academic year 2023-2024, the union successfully resolved all grievance related matters informally, including a handful of promotion cases where the union believed it saw violations of Article XVI of the CBA. Per Article VII, these cases were able to be resolved informally, though the union was fully prepared to file had that not been the case. In the Fall, the union will present some guidance to PRCs as to our view of the relationship between current departmental PRC guidelines and the CBA. However, there were three general issues that came up in this cycle which we are committed to addressing in future cycles.


  • The expected requirements for a change to adjunct status vary widely across Pratt. While adjuncts are expected to commit more to their departments, PRC’s must keep in mind as they author guidelines that part time faculty need to make choices about the work they commit to in order to earn a living. Adjuncts should never be evaluated based on whether they can make up for the service shortfalls that arise when the administration does not provide enough full time faculty lines to a department, especially given the low rates of compensation for service. As faculty we must be especially mindful of rationalizing the exploitation of our colleagues.


  • When failing to recommend, we have discovered that some chairs and deans provide fairly arbitrary explanations that have little to do with PRC published guidelines. This is especially unfair because faculty design their submissions around those guidelines. The union’s position on this is unequivocal: the CBA gives faculty the responsibility for setting standards for promotion and determining whether candidates meet those standards. Chair and Deans cannot create their own unpublished standards.


  • In addition, Chairs and Deans cannot subject different candidates to different levels of scrutiny as this presents as favoritism--which is not only a violation of the CBA but something that corrodes the very foundations of the promotion process itself. While chairs and deans can disagree with a PRC evaluation, the burden is on them to show why the judgment of faculty employed by Pratt because of their expertise in a particular area and whose judgment is trusted in almost all cases cannot be accepted in this particular case.


UPCOMING FOR FALL


EQUALIZATION FUND: ROUND TWO

In September, the union will work again with the Provost’s office to distribute the second $400,000 contribution to the Equalization Fund. While nothing remains certain until the Fall workload data is released our priorities include: bringing all part time faculty at Pratt who have worked here for more than 6 years and who are more than 10% below their department medians at rank closer to their medians, bringing all full time faculty who are more than 10% below their department medians at rank closer to their medians, attempting to bring equity to departments that lag behind their school medians and, once again, raising minimum rates across Pratt. 


SEPTEMBER GENERAL MEMBERSHIP MEETING

In early September, the Executive Committee will hold our Fall General Membership Meeting. 




To become a UFCT 1460 member click here.


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