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FT Bargaining Update – 3.25.15

We conducted seven meetings with aggregate attendance of about forty full-time lecturers. There was general consensus across departments and meetings, which is outlined below.

The general narrative is to disrupt the existing hierarchy or caste system that exists between teaching and research faculty and replace it with a more equitable system in which both are valued.

With few exceptions, the boilerplate proposal will be the same as articles recently agreed upon in the Part-Time Lecturer Contract.

These provisions are: (i) mostly standard and non-controversial; (ii) where not, were vigorously discussed and bargained for in the negotiations by the part-time lecturers; (iii) are unlikely to win agreement to change from the administration if the union tried to change them; and (iv) are of equal relevance and applicability to both part-time and full-time Lecturers.

These articles include:

  • Preamble, Recognition
  • Management Rights
  • Equal Employment Opportunity and Non-Discrimination
  • Union Security and Dues Check-Off
  • Union Rights
  • Academic Freedom
  • Bargaining Unit Information
  • Grievance and Arbitration
  • Discipline and Discharge
  • Lecturer/University Committee
  • Health and Safety
  • Personnel Files
  • Pay Day
  • No Strike/No Lock-Out
  • Separability
  • Duration (except dates)

There is a general consensus that at some point in the term of employment, full-time lecturers should receive continuous appointments or, in the alternative, longer appointments of 5, 7 or 10 years.

Continuous appointments would not be the same as tenure but simply allow for a regularized employment relationship that could not be terminated absent just cause or a lay-off due to lack of work or significant operational change.

Moving past a contingent employment relationship is important both for reasons of job security and academic freedom.

In addition to departments that have special endowments that support professional development, each full-time lecturer should be allotted an annual amount to support scholarship, including civic engagement and artistic practice that contributes to improved pedagogy. Recommendations as to the amount remained above $1,000 per lecturer, but we need more information regarding university policies toward lecturers and other faculty.

An alternative approach would be to pay for the attendance at one or more conferences, whether a paper was delivered or not. There is also interest by some that Tufts support full-time lecturers in grant applications, including allowing them to be principal investigators.

Lastly, there is interest in proposing the right to a paid one-semester sabbatical or significant course reduction for the purpose of developing new courses or scholarship that will lend itself to improving the curriculum in the program or department.

With respect to course releases and their justification, the general consensus is to support a ‘point system’ quantifying service, including advising, that:

  • fulfills the general obligation of a full-time lecturer; and
  • is equated to a course

We need to work on this topic both through the collective bargaining process and the university’s committee, which was formed for the same purpose. Our goal is to be collaborative and not adversarial, but to make sure that the interests of full-time lecturers are given full and fair consideration.
In addition to general consensus that a universal basis exists for assigning points across the university, a need remains to address some department/program-specific standards. The outcome could lead to either of these default situations:

  • that, upon accumulation of the required number of points, the lecturer would automatically be given  the course release (but could affirmatively request that it not be enacted – e.g., if the lecturer wants to  teach an extra course); or
  • that the lecturer would need to affirmatively request the course release, although it cannot be  reasonably denied.

The point system would have to be further developed through the bargaining process. We are also interested in grandfathering current course releases, including any that would not be justified by the point system ultimately agreed to. This is based on the principle of ‘doing no harm’ – fundamental to our position.

There was also some concern that actual contact hours and course enrollment be taken into account when considering the number of courses to be assigned.

The idea that was floated and had a lot of traction in all meetings was that Lecturers and Senior Lecturers should achieve parity with Assistant Professors and Associate Professors, respectively. The idea would be to achieve parity at the respective minimum salaries in order to argue that the value of classroom teaching is equal to the value of research, at least at the starting salary level of each position.

We also agreed that we would need to negotiate minimum general pay increases each year and, allow for larger increases above the starting or base levels.

Other than professional development, full-time lecturers who attended seemed generally satisfied with the current benefits offered.

There was general consensus that the process by which individual faculty are reviewed for salary, promotion and contract renewal must be more transparent than it presently is. Also, a strong view was expressed that the criteria and mechanism for promotion to senior lecturer should be clarified and that such promotion should include increased compensation.

There is no interest in weakening the current participation of full-time lecturers in departments, committees, faculty meetings, or in any other respects.

We will begin holding meetings shortly among lecturers who indicated either in meetings, on surveys, or through a departmental selection process that they are interested in being members of the negotiating committee. Once scheduled, these meetings will be announced to members of the bargaining unit and any lecturer interested in attending may do so.

The goal is to prepare a detailed presentation of our goals on each of the topics above (and any others) so that we can:

a) ratify our goals; and
b) begin negotiations by late May or early June

We will take an interest-based rather than positional approach to the negotiations (you may want to pick up one of the various books written by Ury and Fisher for the Harvard Negotiation Project, Getting To Yes, Getting Past No, etc.).

The members of the negotiating committee will be expected to regularly attend negotiations and, between meetings, prepare for upcoming negotiations and communicate with their colleagues on the status of negotiations.

We hope to schedule 2-4 negotiating sessions with the administration between 5/20 and 7/31. We plan to meet 2 times per month beginning in September until we are able to reach an agreement. At that time, the negotiating committee will recommend for ratification by bargaining unit members a tentatively agreed upon full contract. The contract will go into effect only if approved by a majority of those voting in the ratification process.

Negotiations will be open for any full-time lecturers to attend and we will regularly summarize them in writing via email and regular mail as well as one-on-one outreach.