May 1st Meeting, Questions
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.