Bargaining Session 17: August 20 – We have a tentative agreement!

Just before 10 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 20, the Faculty and Administration Bargaining Teams reached a tentative agreement on a new 3-year contract.

The tentative agreement was achieved after 7 hours of negotiations on Wednesday.

The Faculty Team will present the details of the tentative agreement to the AAUP Executive Committee at a meeting on Thursday morning.

The tentative agreement will be presented to the members of the AAUP Chapter at a meeting on Friday, Aug. 22, starting at 4 p.m., after Convocation activities end. (We’ll announce the meeting location as soon as it’s confirmed.)

Chapter members will have an opportunity to review the details and ask questions before voting on the tentative agreement.

Faculty Chief Negotiator Geoff Woolf said, “It’s a great achievement for the faculty and the administration to be able to reach a tentative agreement as a result of work between the two teams at the bargaining table.”

“It’s only the second time in the 25-year history of Cincinnati State AAUP that we have reached a tentative agreement without the need for fact-finding,” Geoff added.

“The collaborative tone that was present throughout these negotiations made a big difference,” Geoff said. “We’re completing these negotiations in a way that is significantly different from the contentious process of three years ago. That difference should have a positive impact not just for faculty, but for the College as a whole, and especially for our students, and the community we serve.”

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Bargaining Session 16: August 16

The Faculty and Administration Bargaining Teams, along with the mediator, met on Saturday, Aug. 16, for about 6 1/2 hours (9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., including a working lunch). The cookies and brownies provided by faculty volunteers were appreciated.

The Faculty Team also appreciated the efforts of our colleagues who arrived early Saturday morning to serve as unofficial “greeters” for New Student Orientation. The AAUP “greeter team” helped visiting students and their family members to navigate the path from the garages to the Orientation session. The AAUP greeters also handed out about 400 leaflets with information about Faculty concerns.

The Faculty and Administration bargaining teams are scheduled to meet again on Wednesday, Aug. 20, starting at 3:00 p.m.

A Fact-Finding hearing, if it is needed, is scheduled for Aug. 25.

On Monday, Aug. 18, Faculty Chief Negotiator Geoff Woolf will meet with the Chapter attorney to prepare a Pre-Hearing Brief, which will explain the Faculty rationale for proposals on the unresolved issues that need to be discussed at fact-finding. A Pre-Hearing Brief from each team will be sent to the fact-finder later in the week if fact-finding is going to take place.

The Faculty Team said topics discussed on Saturday included the articles dealing with workload, online education, benefits, and compensation. Additional discussion involved the possibility of creating annually contracted, non-tenure track faculty positions.

Faculty Chief Negotiator Geoff Woolf said, “It seems like we may be inching closer to a settlement. However, it also appears that the Administration Team needs to have additional discussion with the Board of Trustees when the Board meets on Tuesday.”

“It’s understandable that Board members would want more information from their team about the terms of a possible settlement, since the Board is ultimately responsible for the fiscal health of the College,” Geoff said.

“However, it would be deeply disappointing if these contract negotiations end up in fact-finding,” Geoff said. “The teams have accomplished a lot at the table, not just by making compromises, but through genuine collaboration in trying to deal with each other’s biggest concerns.”

“It feels like we’re at an important crossroads right now,” Geoff continued. “The decisions reached in the next few days could bring faculty and administration together on a new road to success, or drive us further apart.”

“We need to continue to work together so all the progress we have made is not squandered,” Geoff said.

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College Convocation and Faculty Responsibilities

Some faculty members have asked if faculty are required to attend the College Convocation on Aug. 22.

The answer is “yes.” Convocation is a faculty in-service day, as defined in the AAUP Unit 1 contract. It’s common for colleges and universities using a semester calendar to hold mandatory in-service events during non-teaching times on the institutional calendar. Also, Dr. Posey consulted with AAUP prior to finalizing the Aug. 22 Convocation date, and she sent faculty members several notifications about the date during the past academic year.

A few who previously scheduled end-of-summer travel that might involve financial commitments are considered “excused” from this year’s Convocation, but the expectation going forward is that Convocation is a day of service for all full-time faculty.

Additionally, it’s important for faculty to attend the “lunch-and-learn” session at this year’s Convocation, where a representative of Pearson Learning Systems will be speaking. Pearson representatives will also be available during break-out sessions.

Many faculty members are aware that it’s a strategic goal of the College to expand distance learning offerings. Faculty probably are also aware that some College administrators believe this goal should be achieved through a partnership with the for-profit company Pearson Learning Systems.

Decisions about how to best design and deliver courses, whether traditional or online, are a matter of academic governance, as defined in Article 6 of the contract. If a department or program is interested in expanding distance learning opportunities for students, the faculty in the program or department need to determine the best learning approaches and outcomes, taking into consideration standards and guidelines of the Ohio Board of Regents as well as external accrediting bodies or related professional organizations, if applicable.

Deciding if resources available from a particular vendor are the most effective choices to help your students succeed should result from investigation and conclusions reached by the faculty in a program or department.

The AAUP Executive Committees encourages faculty members to attend the Pearson information session at Convocation, and to ask questions that will help your program or department make informed decisions about distance education offerings in your curriculum.

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Bargaining Session 15: August 13

The Faculty and Administration Bargaining Teams, along with the mediator, met on Wednesday, Aug. 13, for about 8 hours (10 a.m. to 6 p.m., including a working lunch). All those at the table greatly appreciated the soup, sandwiches, and cookies provided by a group of faculty volunteers.

The teams are scheduled to meet again on Saturday, Aug. 16, starting at 9:30 a.m.

A Fact-Finding hearing, if it is needed, is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 25.

The Faculty Team said most of Wednesday’s session focused on various provisions of the Workload article, along with additional discussion of the possibility of creating annually contracted, non-tenure track faculty positions.

Some additional discussion of Article 10, covering faculty development and implementation of online education, took place also.

Faculty Chief Negotiator Geoff Woolf said, “We made good progress today, but we’re not done yet. We still have more to talk about concerning the multi-faceted, interrelated issues of workload, compensation and benefits.”

“Our Saturday session is a good opportunity to get this contract settled,” Geoff added. “The mediator asked both teams to carefully plan the agenda for Saturday’s session, and to come in well prepared to wrap up the discussions.”

“The whole College knows what it feels like to start a new academic year with the stress of unresolved contract negotiations still hanging over everybody,” Geoff continued.

“It would be a huge improvement, and a big boost to faculty morale, if we could get this contract resolved without the need for fact-finding, and use Convocation next Friday to launch the beginning of a new era,” Geoff said.

Posted in Bargaining, News

Bargaining Session 14: August 11

Technical difficulties prevented the Faculty Bargaining Team from preparing the usual update on Monday’s 4-hour bargaining session. However, the August 12  AAUP Newsletter (posted in the Library section) will bring you up to date on the progress of bargaining for both AAUP and SEIU.

AAUP bargaining sessions are scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 13, starting at 10 a.m., and Saturday, Aug. 16, starting at 9:30 a.m.

Posted in Bargaining, News

Bargaining Session 13: August 8

The Faculty and Administration Bargaining Teams met on Friday, Aug. 8, for about 7 hours (including a lunch break). Mediator Earl Leonhardt attended the session also.

The Faculty Team said four non-economic contract articles are now very close to completion: Article 3 (AAUP rights as the bargaining representative), Article 7 (selection and hiring), Article 12 (employment relationship and severance) and Article 15 (academic freedom and professional ethics).

A significant portion of Friday’s session focused on Article 10 (electronically purveyed methods of instruction), which defines development processes, compensation, and intellectual property ownership rights for faculty who develop and deliver online courses. According to the Faculty Team, the discussion examined possible ways to expand faculty participation in developing online courses, while also streamlining some of the processes that enable offering more sections of popular online courses.

Faculty Chief Negotiator Geoff Woolf said, “Faculty and administration have a shared interest in providing a wide range of high-quality online courses for our students. However, we still have a lot to discuss at the table regarding what is fair compensation for developing online courses, and what rights faculty should retain when the online course materials they develop are shared with other full-time or adjunct faculty members.”

Geoff said Friday’s session also included more discussion of possible full-time, non-tenure track positions.

“No agreements have been made on this topic,” Geoff said. “We are continuing to explore conditions and limitations that would need to be part of any agreement to bring annually contracted, non-tenure track faculty members into our bargaining unit.”

Additional topics at Friday’s session included some portions of Article 9 (workload) and some discussion about the role of faculty in College activities related to student retention and completion.

The teams have scheduled additional bargaining sessions for Monday, Aug. 11 and Wednesday, Aug. 13. Schedule conflicts for some team members and the mediator would interfere with a session next Friday, so the teams have agreed to meet for bargaining on Saturday, Aug. 16.

A Fact-Finding hearing (if it is needed) is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 25.

Geoff said, “With only two weeks left until a Fact Finding hearing would happen, we hope the Administration Team is as interested as we are in finding a pathway to an acceptable contract settlement.”

“The issues that are still unresolved include all of workload, compensation, and benefits, along with the distance education article, and the possibility of annual contracted faculty positions,” Geoff said.

“All of these remaining issues are complex and interrelated,” Geoff continued. “We’re still trying to unravel the complexities, so it’s going to take more time to finish negotiations.”

Geoff added, “We hope both teams are willing to find the best road to a mutually-acceptable settlement during the next two weeks.”

Posted in Bargaining, News

Bargaining Session 12: August 6

The Faculty and Administration Bargaining Teams met on Wednesday, Aug. 6, for about four-and-a-half hours. Mediator Earl Leonhardt attended the session also.

Faculty Chief Negotiator Geoff Woolf said, “We were pleased that the Administration Team heard the concerns we raised at the bargaining sessions last week, particularly in relation to making our collective bargaining settlement contingent on the terms of a possible College contract with an outside vendor like Pearson Learning Systems.”

“The Administration Team told us on Wednesday they will not be bringing forward any contract language related to Pearson Learning Systems,” Geoff said.

“It’s our understanding that Pearson representatives will be making presentations at the Convocation on August 22, so it’s still important for faculty members to gain information about resources this company might provide related to distance education,” Geoff added.

“Decisions about relationships with outside vendors that might assist in carrying out academic work are topics of academic governance,” Geoff continued. “It’s good that we are no longer considering Pearson as part of our collective bargaining discussions, but that doesn’t change the fact that faculty members have an important academic governance task before them.”

“Faculty members in departments and programs still need to consider whether it’s in the best interests of their students to implement possible relationships with for-profit entities that wish to do business with the College,” Geoff said.

“At the bargaining table, we also have more to discuss related to Article 10 (electronically purveyed methods of instruction), which defines processes and compensation for faculty who develop and implement online courses,” Geoff said.

“This article has had essentially the same language for many years,” Geoff said. “We’ve told the Administration Team we are willing to discuss adjustments to Article 10 to address their concerns, but we also require assurance that past faculty work to implement online education remains protected.”

Discussion continues of possible non-tenure track positions

At Wednesday’s session the Administration Team also addressed concerns raised last week by the Faculty Team regarding possible full-time, non-tenure track positions.

“The Administration Team brought additional information to Wednesday’s session that described some parameters and limitations that could apply to implementation of Annually Contracted Faculty positions,” Geoff said.

“Adding non-tenure track faculty is certainly not an optimal situation,” Geoff continued. “However, it is a reality in higher education that we must come to grips with.”

“We appreciate that the Administration Team heard our concerns, and made a good faith effort to construct a proposal that attempts to preserve some of our most deeply held values about the quality of instruction provided by Cincinnati State faculty,” Geoff said.

“We still have several points that need further discussion before these annually contracted positions could be added to the bargaining unit, but it’s noteworthy that the Administration Team was willing to provide a meaningful starting point for those discussions,” Geoff said.

Discussion of non-economic articles seems near completion; bargaining continues on Friday

Additional topics of discussion on Wednesday included a few elements of workload, and a number of items related to Article 7 (selection and hiring), Article 3 (AAUP rights as the bargaining representative), and Article 15 (academic freedom and professional ethics).

Faculty Team Member Tom Burns said, “It seems like we’re making a lot of progress in discussion of the non-economic issues, and we’re getting close to wrapping up our work on those issues.”

“Once those items are moved off the table, the sessions should be even more productive,” Tom added.

The next bargaining session is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 8, starting at 10 a.m. Both teams have agreed to make most of the day available for bargaining.

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AAUP Chapter Meeting – Aug. 4

The AAUP Chapter Meeting on Monday, Aug. 4, was attended by nearly 100 faculty members. Chapter officers and bargaining team members provided an update on negotiations so far.

The President of Cincinnati State’s SEIU chapter also provided an update on their negotiations and the decision to authorize a possible strike if a contract settlement cannot be achieved soon.

AAUP members should look for messages about possible actions that will demonstrate support for the Faculty Bargaining Team. The next bargaining session is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 6.

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Bargaining Sessions 10 and 11: July 31 and Aug. 1

The Faculty and Administration Bargaining Teams met on Thursday, July 31, for about 3 hours, and on Friday, Aug. 1, for about 2 hours. The mediator attended both sessions.

Faculty Chief Negotiator Geoff Woolf said, “The sessions on Thursday and Friday were extremely disappointing. After nine bargaining sessions that had seemed open and collaborative, the Administration team took a big turn in direction.”

“What they did felt a little like a ‘bait and switch,’” Geoff added.

Geoff continued, “After spending a lot of time talking about understanding concerns and meeting interests, it seems like the Administration is now saying that to gain any contract provisions that are important to Faculty, we must agree to two items: creating positions for full-time, non-tenure track faculty, and supporting expansion of online education through a partnership with Pearson Learning Systems.”

Faculty Team members said the Administration Team did not provide details about either of their new topics.

Team member Pam Ecker said, “For the discussion of non-tenure track faculty, which the Administration refers to as Annually Contracted Faculty, they had a bullet list with a few ideas about these new positions. For the discussion of expanding distance education through a deal with Pearson, they didn’t have anything in writing, and they couldn’t or wouldn’t provide answers to our specific questions.”

“It was frustrating to hear the Administration team imply that the College can’t possibly afford to implement workload changes we are seeking– let alone provide reasonable compensation and benefits– unless they add a bunch of non-tenure track positions and set up an online college with Pearson,” Pam said. “Yet at the same time, they couldn’t give us any specifics about how they expect to carry out these new activities they say are essential to fiscal sustainability.”

“They also didn’t have an answer to why Pearson is the one-and-only provider of resources for distance education that is open to consideration,” Pam added. “Many faculty members who are interested in expanding distance education offerings have examined a number of possibilities for resources. Not everyone agrees that Pearson is the best possible partner in offering pathways to better retention and increased success for Cincinnati State’s current and future students.”

Faculty Team has concerns about non-tenure track and Pearson online college

Geoff said that the Faculty Team explained at the sessions this week the concerns that need to be addressed if discussion of the Administration’s new topics continues.

“Three years ago, the Administration said they needed Annually Contracted Faculty, but they were unwilling to discuss procedures for hiring the positions, and unwilling to discuss any limitations on the number of these positions, or how many times an annual contracted position could be renewed,” Geoff said.

“Also, three years ago the Administration would not give us any assurances that new tenure-track positions would continue to exist once they started offering annual contracts to non-tenure track faculty,” Geoff added. “We were concerned that current tenure-track faculty might be non-renewed and then offered annually contracted positions instead.”

“Clearly, we can’t have a serious conversation this year about the possibility of annually contracted faculty positions unless the Administration is willing to address our concerns in a meaningful way,” Geoff said.

“The same thing applies to a discussion of a Pearson-supported online college,” Geoff said. “We told the Administration team about several concerns, but fundamentally they all relate to ensuring that the rules of academic governance, as described in the contract, are followed.”

“All programs and courses offered by Cincinnati State, whether they are online or in a traditional classroom, need to follow the standard processes programs and departments use to develop courses, submit them to the Academic Policy and Curriculum Committee for review, and complete other steps that may be required by the OBOR or accrediting organizations,” Geoff said. “All of those steps are key to ensuring quality in our academic programs.”

“A big company like Pearson might be able to provide some useful resources, but that doesn’t mean they– or any other for-profit company– can start dictating to faculty about the content of our courses,” Geoff added.

Next bargaining session Aug. 6; Fact-finder selected but not scheduled

Geoff said the next bargaining session was originally scheduled for Monday, Aug. 4, but the Administration team asked to cancel that session so they would have time to work on their specific proposals.

The teams agreed to meet again on Wednesday, Aug. 6.

Geoff said the Faculty and Administration have selected a Fact Finder from the list of names provided by the State Employment Relations Board. The schedule for a fact-finding hearing is not yet confirmed.

“We hope it will be possible to get back to the collaborative processes we used for several weeks, and reach an agreement on a new contract without the need for fact-finding,” Geoff said.

“However, it’s not clear at this point what it will take to settle this contract, so we’re making plans for various scenarios,” Geoff said.

Posted in Bargaining, News

Bargaining Session 9: July 30

The Faculty and Administration Bargaining Teams met on Wednesday, July 30, for about four-and-a-half hours. The mediator did not attend this session because of a schedule conflict.

Most of the session was spent addressing proposed changes to contract Article 7, which covers the processes for selection and hiring of faculty and academic administrators. The teams examined concerns expressed by both sides, and then collaborated in developing acceptable solutions to the concerns.

Faculty Chief Negotiator Geoff Woolf said, “Today’s discussion was a good example of effective problem-solving within the traditional negotiations process. We listened to each other, and then worked together on potential contract language that both sides can live with.”

The rest of the session included brief discussion of additional workload issues.

Bargaining sessions are scheduled for Thursday (July 31), starting at 5:00 p.m., and Friday (Aug. 1), starting at 11:00 a.m. Because of this schedule, the next bargaining update will be provided after the Friday session.

Posted in Bargaining, News
AAUP Office:
Main Building Room 124
Phone: 513-569-1888

Chapter President:
David Simmermon - 513-569-1797
Media contact:
Pam Ecker - 513-569-1722

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