October 2001 aaUPBEAT
Negotiations & Higher Education's Corporate Model
Upcoming AAUP-Administration Contract Negotiations
Later this fall contract negotiations will begin between the union and Administration. As negotiations draw closer we will use our newsletter to discuss faculty bargaining concerns. As you know, our basic bread and butter issues are salary and benefits. Other areas of concern include issues of workload, retirement benefits, and insuring the enforcement of the collective bargaining agreement.
Over recent years the AAUP's analysis of UD's financial condition and well-reasoned proposals have played an important role in improving faculty earnings, moving us from below the median in our comparator group to a much stronger position. The AAUP's emphasis on raising salaries has been motivated by two concerns: (1) the need to increase current faculty members' economic security and (2) making the University more competitive when it comes to attracting new faculty. It is impossible to broaden the University's contributions to the state's and nation's academic life without the Administration directing monies into education-specific areas, including faculty compensation.
Our work is far from over. If the Administration refuses to agree to sufficient salary gains during upcoming negotiations, UD faculty members could find their salary levels erode within our comparator group. The AAUP's position is simple: this is not acceptable.. Too often in the recent past the Administration, in spite of having at its disposal millions of dollars in discretionary funds, has chosen to invest too small a portion of these funds on faculty-specific endeavors like new research or educational programs, and instead used them in non-education-related ways to build up the University's already extensive wealth. Like the Administration, the AAUP recognizes the importance of a strong financial position, but as the national trend toward corporatizing Universities has increased, UD faculty, like other state faculties in the nation, have had to deal with an Administration mindset that frequently prioritizes building the University's wealth above building the best possible faculty by improving salaries and investing more heavily in the expansion of professional options. Faculty are also in need of better benefits; for instance, a provision for long-term health care, which will be one of our priorities during the upcoming negotiations.
Although such bread and butter issues are central to the AAUP's bargaining vision, it would be wrong to assume that this centrality, of necessity, forces other "less economic" issues to the sidelines during contract negotiations. Many other issues that are of concern to the AAUP bargaining unit are in fact not separable from our economic interests.
Domestic partner benefits, which we plan to take as a demand to the bargaining table, is a good example of this. Although this bargaining item possesses a social justice component, it is also an obvious economic issue designed to make sure gay and lesbian couples who meet requirements similar to those for heterosexual married couples receive the same benefits as the University provides to married heterosexuals.
The time for the inclusion of these benefits in our contract is long overdue. During the 1990s the AAUP negotiated in good faith with the Administration on this issue. As a result of the union's initiative, an AAUP-Administration committee was established that recommended the adoption of domestic partner benefits, only to have the recommendation rejected by the board of trustees. Such rejection is no longer acceptable. Not only have many regional institutions of higher education like Rutgers, American University and the University of Pennsylvania inaugurated such benefits, but in the last two years alone the number of employers offering domestic partner benefits has nearly doubled. Recently The News Journal extended domestic partner benefits to its employees, as have two other major local employers, Chrysler and General Motors. In the case of the two auto companies, which have predominantly blue-collar workforces, the firms didn't just offer these benefits as a gift, but rather conceded to union demands. These three local employers are now more in tune with corporate America than UD is, which highlights the role prejudice plays in the domestic partners position currently held by UD. Such a position is increasingly becoming an embarrassment to the University.
As important as the upcoming contract negotiations are, faulty should remember that negotiating with the Administration is an ongoing process. Although contract negotiations are a major part of that process, they aren't the sole part. For instance, when the union set in motion a series of events which led to greater rights for non-tenure track faculty, this was accomplished outside the contract negotiations arena. Also, when we recently worked with AFSCME to restore tuition remission to cafeteria and bookstore employees who worked for outside vendors, this was done off-table, and for a constituency we don't officially represent. Both these efforts - the one regarding non-tenure tracks faculty, the other AFSCME workers - were part of the AAUP's ongoing negotiations with the Administration in order to insure the faculty's financial security as well as our position as a major shaper of campus life.
The Role of Intellectuals in Academe: the Corporate Model
World-wide, it is assumed that intellectuals have a specific role to play in the lives of the communities and nations of which they are a part.
When this role is conceptualized, it is usually stressed that intellectuals, in order to do their best work, must be guaranteed an open zone in which freedom of thought and expression aren't curtailed by bureaucratic restrictions.
A typical statement of such concerns was included in the invitation to a conference on "The Role of the Intellectual in the Public Sphere" held in Beirut in 1999. The document stated that the conference would concentrate on how "intellectuals and artists... maintain their independence and integrity when confronting major players in society, such as state, religious and ethnic authorities who claim exclusive rights regarding public morality and the public domain itself." The document further stated that intellectuals were entitled to a "breathing space" in which their work could be done without outside interference, and that intellectuals themselves must develop a conception of "how this space can be defended."
To some analysts, such a view of the intellectual is becoming more myth than reality in the absence of faculty members' resolve to protect academia from corporate encroachment. Carol Polsgrove, in the postscript to her Divided Minds: Intellectuals and the Civil Rights Movement, presents an alternate view of the U.S. intellectual in academia as a gun-for-hire with little will to pursue truly independent thought.
"The professors I have encountered," Polsgrove writes, "in my life as a professor in six institutions of higher learning, are mostly careerists (or, more modestly, job-holders) concerned about their own tenure and standing in their profession. Seldom do they reach out to the communities of which they are geographically a part, much less to the larger society."
If Polsgrove's critique stopped at drawing a picture of academics as a self-absorbed lot driven by ambition and a desire for their own comfort, it might not be of much interest. However, as with an increasing number of analysts, she views this self-absorption as part of a larger problem that entails the decay of higher education's social role and how this decay is traceable to higher education's mounting corporatization, which, she believes, has resulted in academics becoming less the free thinkers that they advertise themselves as and more like a group of people eager to sell their minds for profit.
"Do universities not owe society," Polsgrove writes, "anything other than research for its industries and job training for its children? Might not there be some responsibility for publicly raising basic questions, for everyone to consider, about what we as a society are up to? That question rarely arises. Like other wage earners in society, academic researchers by and large do what they are paid to do, and, as we all know, he who pays the piper, calls the tune."
Such concerns make clear that, as higher education pursues the corporate model for achieving greater efficiency, faculty not only must worry about increased workloads, fewer tenure track positions, and less intellectual flexibility, but also about the sometimes unclear question of who faculty members actual work for.
The Office of Industrial Research and Technology Transfer and the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee is an example of how the "who do we actually work for?" concern arises. According to the university, the job of this office is to work closely with state and regional companies "to convert research results obtained in the university to commercial products, processes, and services." Although such close ties with industry are usually described as nothing more than the natural result of the fact that cutbacks in government and military research funding have forced universities to look elsewhere for monies, this doesn't void the reality: as ties between higher education and the corporate world deepen, the possibility of increased corporate control over academic life mounts. An extreme example of this is a University of Minnesota case in which the chief of child psychiatry at the university hospital falsified reports on a new antidepressant in order to (a) help the company gain FDA approval and (b) keep company research funds rolling into his department. The psychiatrist was eventually convicted of fraud.
In the recent issue of Academe, Sheila Slaughter, a University of Arizona higher education professor, argues that contemporary academics and intellectuals live in an era when "the lines between professional and corporate values, public and private support, the commons and the marketplace" have become more and more blurred, thereby raising troubling questions about the survivability of traditional notions of independent intellectuals and the rationales for tying higher education to economic growth.
There is little doubt that such concerns when coupled with other corporate- and technology-influenced changes in higher education raise questions about higher education's future that faculty members at UD and elsewhere can't afford to ignore. Distance learning, for instance, creates the possibility of (a) diminished faculty sizes and (b) an increase in standardized syllabi in order to insure that students receive equivalent "products." Another concern is the shifting designation of student from "one who is formally engaged in learning" to "one who purchases a commodity." The more students are viewed as consumers rather than learners, the easier it becomes for higher education administrations to subject decisions regarding curriculums, the range of classroom debate, faculty workloads, etc. to the pressures of the marketplace and consumer dictates. Any faculty member who believes that such prospects are unlikely hasn't been paying attention; they've already begun. Already the notion of a well-rounded education has been undercut by a what's-good-for-the-marketplace education. One example of this is the salary disparities between different departments in U.S. universities. UD is no exception to the existence of such disparities. Compare the salaries (see table at end of newsletter) between the Chemical Engineering Department and the Music Department, or between Finance and Art, and it becomes clear that higher education at UD as elsewhere is based on marketplace notions of what is and isn't of value.
This is obviously not a concern only of interest to faculty. Anyone who cherishes a well-rounded education's power to transform lives and produce intellectually vital citizens must be concerned with higher education administrations' over-reliance on the corporate model as a way of structuring campus life.
Special Salary Adjustment Under Article 12.8 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement
Each year the AAUP Contract Maintenance Officer (CMO) receives a list of the names of all faculty designated to receive special salary adjustments under Article 12.8 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The list also includes the adjustment amounts for each recipient and the reasons the adjustments were made
After receiving the list, the CMO reviews it with the Vice President for Administration to certify that the awards are for equity, market, market and equity or retention. The CMO reports on the salary adjustments to the AAUP Executive Council.
The amount of money distributed each year varies. Sufficient funds are not usually available to meet all of the needs of the colleges and some adjustments must be spread out over two years. President Roselle has made available over $900,000 for FY 2001-2002. The funds were distributed to faculty in all seven colleges as follows: Equity- $169,454, Market and Equity-$246,485, Market-$316,043 and Retention-$182,029 for a total of $914,011. The largest college, the College of Arts & Science, received a total of $534,851 for all categories.
In addition to the above list from the Administration, occasionally individual faculty members ask the AAUP to review their salaries to determine whether or not salary adjustments are warranted. The AAUP conducts such reviews and, when appropriate, works with departmental chairs to attempt to gain salary adjustments. The recommendations of chairs are advisory to deans. Ultimately the Provost reviews all proposed salary adjustments and decides whether or not to authorize them. Throughout this process, individuals' salaries are kept confidential.
Any questions regarding these special salary adjustments should be addressed to Leon Campbell, AAUP Contract Maintenance Officer at 831-6767 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The AAUP will hold an open faculty meeting in early December. This will provide a forum to discuss salary adjustments and other issues of concern to the faculty. The time and place of this meeting will be announced in a separate flier.
The University of Delaware AAUP has established an AAUP Newsgroup that can be accessed through the chapter's web page. To access the chapter's web page and the newsgroup, go to the University's home page, click "Information: Faculty," then proceed to "Employment terms, governance and resources." You will find the AAUP web site and the AAUP Newsgroup under "governance." The Newsgroup will provide a forum for faculty to discuss concerns with AAUP officers and other Bargaining Unit members.