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

abultito@alaska.edu

907-474-2461

 

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