Budget Cuts and the CBA, by Abel Bult-Ito

photograph of UNAC President, Abel Bult-Ito
Abel Bult-Ito, President, United Academics

Dear Colleagues,

The budget outlook for the state and the university is concerning to all of us. We will see cuts in our budget this year, and probably several years to come. The only uncertainty right now is how much we will be cut.

We anticipate that some academic programs could be closed at UAS, UAA, and UAF. Each university has adopted its own review process to set priorities and identify programs for elimination. These decisions could result in faculty and staff layoffs.

I believe I share your concern that cuts in administration are not transparent. The Alaska Legislature appears to be taking the lead in this regard. The House Finance Subcommittee for the University of Alaska closed out its budget for the university and included intent language that “any current functions that are not directly related to the mission [to inspire learning and to advance and disseminate knowledge, through teaching, research, and service with an emphasis on the North and its diverse peoples] should be reviewed and realigned, as appropriate.” In addition, the subcommittee indicated cuts to the Statewide Administration that are twice as large compared to UAS, UAA, and UAF.

This budget still has a long way to go before it is approved. I would like to encourage you to talk with your legislators and support these provisions of the university budget, as they highly value public testimony. In addition, any communication that urges the Legislature to minimize the cuts to the university is important.

I believe that we have raised the stature of United Academics faculty members over the years, and we are now able to talk with almost every legislator and convey to them what we bring to the university. Through our efforts, we continue to show that we contribute directly to the mission of UA and the good of the State of Alaska.

The Representative Assembly (RA) of United Academics met on Saturday 28 February 2015 in Anchorage to discuss the looming budget cuts and how our union can assist its members. We would like to communicate to you our most important CBA provisions and suggestions.

• United Academics faculty members are not subject to the UA furlough policy.

• If members are laid off they need to be provided notice when their program is reduced or eliminated. CBA Article 10 specifies that:

a. Within the first year, regardless of contract extensions, the unit member shall be notified no later than February 15, for appointments based on the academic year, or three months prior to the end of an appointment, for appointments based on an alternative nine month base.

b. Within the second year, regardless of contract extensions, the unit member shall be notified no later than November 15, for appointments based on the academic year, or six months prior to the end of the base appointment for appointments based on an alternative nine month period.

c. After two or more years of uninterrupted service, the unit member shall be notified twelve months prior to the expiration of the final appointment.

If the discontinued program is reactivated within two years, previously tenured and qualified unit members shall be invited to return prior to hiring new full-time unit members. The unit member shall, within thirty days from the mailing of the invitation, notify the University of the decision to decline or accept. If the former unit member does not respond within thirty days, the invitation is deemed to have been declined. Former unit members wishing to receive such invitations shall be responsible for maintaining a current mailing address and other contact information with the hiring authority.

• Research, creative activity, and service are integral parts of the university mission regardless of whether they are externally funded or not. We produce knowledge through research and creative activity, we disseminate this knowledge to our students through teaching, and make this a comprehensive whole through service to the university through shared governance and a collaborative atmosphere.

• Continued faculty leadership in teaching, research, and service is crucial to shape the future of the university. We need to be proactive and actively engaged in our programs, departments, and colleges to enhance the value of our programs for our students and the state in an unwavering effort to head off additional budget cuts.

• Last but not least, United Academics is here to continue to protect your rights and address any concerns through the enforcement of our collective bargaining agreement (CBA: http://unitedacademics.net/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/Final-UNAC-2014-2016-CBA-6.pdf). For example:

a) If the processes in the CBA have been violated, we can file a grievance to address the issue. A step 1 informal grievance needs to be filed within 30 workdays after the incident. Specific dates are listed in the CBA; failing to meet a specific date is a violation. For example, all faculty should have received their annual “statement regarding the sufficiency of the unit member’s performance in response to the Annual Activity Report” from their dean or director by 5 January 2015. In this case, the grievance should have been filed by 17 February 2015.

b) Complaints regarding “substantive academic judgment” need to be filed within 10 workdays. For example, if you do not agree with the outcome of a promotion and/or tenure decision, please let us know so we may file an appeal on your behalf. Concerns regarding your assigned workload also can be appealed.

c) Deadlines for any faculty review processes are clarified in Article 9 of the CBA.

This is an excellent time to become more involved in your union. The Organization Vice-Presidents on each campus and all seats on the Represent Assembly are up for election this spring, and you are encouraged to run for one of these elected positions. Please do not hesitate to contact me about other opportunities to serve. Remember your union exists to protect your rights under the CBA.

In solidarity,

Abel Bult-Ito

President United Academics AAUP/AFT Local 4996




President’s Report to the Representative Assembly meeting, February 2015

photograph of UNAC President, Abel Bult-Ito
President, United Academics

President’s Report by Abel Bult-Ito for the Representative Assembly Meeting

28 February 2015

Hilton Garden Inn Hotel, Anchorage, Alaska


1. Meet and Confer.

• We had a meet and confer discussion on 1 December 2014 to discuss performance expectation letters.

2. Executive Board Meetings.

We had Executive Board meetings on

• 15 January 2015: Phone conference on ALRA, RA training, faculty time off, campus updates, AAUP conference.

• 14 December 2014: In person meeting in Anchorage with Emeriti Alan Norton, interim president, and Joe Mininni, director of marketing. We discussed options for retirement health benefits. UA Director of Labor and Employee Relations Donald Smith also attended.

• 19 November 2014: Phone conference on BOR meetings, Emeriti planning, improved communication plan, campus updates.

3. Board of Regents Meetings.

I attended the 5-6 November 2014 BOR budget meeting in Fairbanks and the 11-12 December 2015 meeting in Anchorage. Cyndee West and I also tried to attend the BOR Annual Retreat on 23-24 January 2015 but were shown the door. The BOR decided to do the entire retreat in executive session, and Regent Mary Hughes appeared to be the driving force for this decision. This shows that we need to continue to demonstrate to the BOR that this university can only thrive with open communication and decision-making. We need to stand strong even if the doors are slammed in our faces. We need to make every effort to educate the BOR and organize our members to make this a success.

4. National Meetings Attended.

a. AAUP-CBA Executive Committee Meetings

I attended and participated in the AAUP-CBC Executive Committee meeting and regional AAUP-CBC meeting 29 January – 1 February 2015 in Los Angeles, California. Cyndee West and I presented a one-hour workshop at the regional meeting on “Knowing What You Want and Getting What You Need Union-Management Relationships and Successful Negotiations.” This workshop was well received.

I also attended and participated in an AAUP-CBC Executive Committee phone conference on 8 December 2014 related to the AAUP-CBC budget.

5. Other Meetings.

a. 2015 Legislative Session.

• I attended the legislative sessions of the Alaska House and Senate in Juneau on 21 January, 5, 10-11, and 23-24 February 2015. I attended presentations by UA President Pat Gamble to Senate Finance Committee and the University of Alaska House Finance Subcommittee on the UA budget as modified by Governor Walker. I also met with about half of the legislators and/or their staff during this session. A detailed report on the current UA Budget in the legislature will be discussed on 28 February.

b. Meeting with members.

• I communicated with several members and elected officers in Juneau, Anchorage, and Fairbanks during in-person meetings, by email, or by phone.

• I attended two Title IX investigative meetings with members and two investigative meetings with members related to claims of discrimination.

c. Budget Meeting with Administration.

Soren Orley (UAA), Tony Rickard (UAF), Matthew West (student worker), and I met with UA administrators on 31 October 2014 to discuss fund raising and other alternative funding sources for the university. This was an informational meeting, which did not result in any firm commitments by the administration regarding diversification of university revenues, but gave an impression of business as usual, even in the face of severe budget cuts coming soon.

d. JHCC meetings.

I attended Joint Health Care Committee (JHCC) meetings as the chair of the JHCC on 10 December 2014 and 25 February 2015. The JHCC approved several motions that can be found at: http://www.alaska.edu/benefits/joint-health-care-committ/

e. EPEA/AFT Board meetings.

I attended APEA/AFT Board phone conference meetings on 2 December 2014 and 3 February 2015.

f. AFL-CIO Convention.

I attended the AFL-CIO Legislative Conference 20-21 January 2015 and was also able to meet with Senator John Coghill and Representative Sam Kito.

6. Alaska Labor Relations Agency (ALRA).

The ALRA issued a decision on the unit clarification petition on 17 December 2014, which would move a number of members from UAFT to United Academics. UAFT appealed this decision on 17 January 2014 to the Superior Court in Anchorage. They also included a request for a stay of the implementation of the ALRA decision. Subsequently, United Academics filed a response and an affidavit (Abel Bult-Ito) on 30 January 2014. The Superior Court granted the stay 12 February 2014.

UAFT submitted their appellant’s opening brief to the Superior Court on 11 July 2014. UAFT has requested several extensions, which we granted. Our brief was submitted on 7 December 2014. The response brief from UAFT was submitted on 19 January 2015. As we are not expected to have oral arguments, we are now waiting for the Superior Court Judge’s decision, which could take several months.

If appeals go all the way to the Supreme Court of Alaska, the total process could take up to two years.


Respectfully submitted,

Abel Bult-Ito

26 February 2015