Session 4: Job Security for Non-Tenure Track Faculty

By Leanne Serbulo, VP for Collective Bargaining

We got off to a slow start, because the administrative team did not have a quorum. While we waited for the rest of the administrative team to arrive, we finalized the language for the three tentative agreements we’ve made so far: Sick Leave Bank, Work/Life Balance Task Force and the Academic Quality Task Force. We will issue a joint communication soon with more details about these three agreements.
Once the full administrative team arrived, we began to process Non Tenure-Track faculty employment issues. We completed the first three IBB steps —Framing the Issue, Exchanging Data and Identifying Interests. Our framing questions for this issue are: How can PSU provide Non Tenure-Track Faculty with employment security, respect and a guarantee of academic freedom, as well as recognize and reward their ongoing service to the University?

During our discussion about data and interests, we had an opportunity to highlight some of the struggles that Non Tenure-Track faculty face at PSU. We shared stories about the lack of job security, the late issuance of contracts, difficulties with retention and the need for job-specific promotional pathways. We had an opportunity to educate the administrative team about the rigorous peer-review processes used to evaluate NTTF; the unacknowledged contributions that research faculty make in mentoring graduate students, bringing in revenue and developing community partnerships; and the important role that NTTF play in faculty governance and curricular development.

Towards the end of the session, we introduced the Article 18 Task Force proposal as one possible option we could use to remedy these issues. The Article 18 Task Force was a joint labor/management task force that came out of our last Collective Bargaining Agreement. The Task Force was charged with coming up with a proposal to replace the current contract system that is used to employ NTTF. A special thanks to David Hansen, Phil Lesch, Michael Lupro, Alan MacCormack and Meg Merrick for representing AAUP on the Task Force and for devoting countless hours to this work. The Task Force met throughout Fall 2014 and presented a fully fleshed-out proposal for continuous NTTF employment to AAUP and Provost Sona Andrews in February 2015. The AAUP Executive Committee voted to endorse the proposal and to follow the Task Force recommendation to enter into interim bargaining so a new system could be in place before the 2015/16 academic year. Provost Andrews did not agree to enter interim bargaining. We have had to wait until now to negotiate this issue alongside all other issues for our 2015-2017 contract.

We will talk more about the Article 18 Task Force proposal and develop additional options at our next bargaining session on Friday, August 14th from 10:00 AM until 4:00 PM in ASRC 620. We encourage you to attend! Your presence makes a difference and helps keep our spirits up!


Sessions 2-3: Consensus on Forming a Sick Leave Bank

By Leanne Serbulo, VP for Collective Bargaining

We’re very pleased to announce that we reached consensus with the administration on 3 issues, after bargaining on July 8th and 10th.

In the 2015-2017 AAUP contract, we’ll establish a Sick Leave Bank: a major victory for our members. It will provide additional protections for individuals who fall ill or who need to care for a loved one. It also moves us one step closer to a family-friendly university, creating a way for employees to take paid parental leave after they have used their accumulated sick time.

  • If you’re an AAUP-represented employee, you can join the Sick Leave Bank by donating 3 hours of unused sick time to the Bank.
  • Joining means you’ll be eligible to withdraw from the Leave Bank later, if you’ve used all of your sick time and need to take additional leave.
  • Qualifying circumstances would include your own illness, parental leave or caring for a sick family member or household member.
  • You can withdraw up to 30 working days of leave and reapply for an additional 30 days.
  • Leave will be donated in the form of hours. Those hours will be assigned a value when withdrawals are made from the Sick Leave Bank. The financial impacts of withdrawals will be spread across departments/units in a randomized fashion, so no particular department/unit has to bear a significant cost.
  • HR will provide a quarterly report to an AAUP representative, including information about the number of hours withdrawn and hours remaining in the Bank.
  • Leave Bank members may be asked to donate additional hours if the Bank reserves become too low.

We had proposed some versions of a Leave Bank during negotiations for our past three contracts. After years of work, it’s nice to see this finally coming to fruition. Thanks to the Family Friendly Task Force, which spent considerable time on this issue over the past year. A special thanks to AAUP representatives Lauren Beeney, Charles Heying and Ann Mestrovich.

In addition to the Sick Leave Bank, we agreed to…

  • Continue to support the Academic Quality Task Force. The Letter of Agreement provides some funding to support the work of this group.
  • Create a standing Family Friendly/Work-Life Balance Committee (populated with 3 appointees from AAUP, 3 from the administration and 3 from Faculty Senate). The purpose of this committee is to evaluate and propose changes to current PSU policies and practices in order to strengthen work-life balance. The committee will also: update PSU’s Work-Life Balance statement, develop a Family-Friendly Toolkit and consider creating a Spousal Hire policy.

In upcoming bargaining sessions, we’ll continue to make family-friendliness and work-life balance an integral part of the discussion. As we talk about the need for a healthy workplace and other bargaining priorities, we expect to address issues such as childcare, paid parental leave, expansion of tuition benefits, workload, job share opportunities, flexible work schedules, compensation during university closures, vacation buyouts and employee health incentive programs.

These past two bargaining sessions highlighted the challenges and potential we see in the Interest-Based Bargaining process. Our team initially felt pretty discouraged because it took us almost three full days to consider the Sick Leave Bank issue. When we finally reached agreement, there was a collective sense of relief and accomplishment. The IBB process takes a tremendous amount of time, which can be incredibly frustrating if no agreement is reached. However, the agreements that are reached will have buy-in from both sides, presumably making them more enduring and less likely to be plucked out of the contract in future negotiations. It’s our hope that through deliberate and thoughtful conversation, we can work out potential pitfalls in advance, lessening the need to revisit these agreements between bargaining cycles or in future negotiations.

Our next bargaining session is scheduled for Thursday July 30th 10am-4pm, ASRC 620. The agenda includes: the Article 18 Task Force proposal (which would increase job security for non-tenure track instructors and researchers by providing continuous appointments), compensation for Summer Session teaching and Post-Tenure Review. These are high priority issues for our membership. Please show how much you care by attending our next bargaining session. Stop by for a few minutes or stay for a few hours. Your presence really does make a difference!