Friday, January 15, 2010

Topic: The MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) approved 1-13-2010

The MOU was approved on Jan. 13 by 84% of the United Faculty members, with two-thirds of the membership voting.  See the article by the Courier for background.

What are your comments?


  1. When you say 84%, is that 21 of 25 or 42 of 50?

  2. UNI has less money now compared to when faculty salaries were set for 2009-10 ... much less money. UNI has less because the governor reduced the fiscal-year allocation for UNI during the middle of the fiscal year. The governor made the reduction because the money was not there - actual state tax receipts were lower than the projected values.

    I am not happy to lose salary and retirement contributions, but the MOU seems responsible to me given the reality of the situation.

  3. Everyone has valid points to make/share here. What I would like to know is if everyone who voted and/or who was not eligible to vote knew that they would be prohibited from taking unpaid days off as a result of this agreement? Yes/No
    Additionally, is it true that the P&S and AFSCME workers will loose on average far less "days" of pay than many faculty members (who are prohibited from not completing all of their work related duties due to this agreement). For example, to get a rough approximation of how many "free" days of labor you are contributing due to this agreement you should:

    1. Calculate the % salary reduction (divide current yearly salary by the total amount of salary reduction).
    2. Use cross-multiplication with the following conversion factor 1 day = 0.08333% reduction

    The average P&S employee and AFSCME employee will have 3-5 days of unpaid leave.

    Shouldn't faculty at least have received some consideration for reduced service and/or research it is a given that there is no possibility of not teaching.

    Finally, aren't we just saying in effect, "See there is no effect from these constant budget reductions!" Which is like saying we didn't need the money to begin with right? Where does this end?

    What do blog followers and posters think/know about this?

  4. Have they cut any of the athletic programs? (Besides baseball) No they added more women's leagues to address mandates Why not just cut out football. They're always the bridesmaid of the tournaments. Never winning. Students don't proportionally go to the games. They prefer to stand out in the cold parking lot drinking their cheap beer. I suggest the faculty seek jobs out of state. Other universities treat their faculty better than UNI, and many are hiring. Just as in the dust days... load 'em up, and move'em out. UNI treats their faculty as if they were chattle... So are you owned, or do you deserve better? You can stay and be treated this way or seek employment elsewhere. I for one am hitting the road.

  5. Unfortunately, I am afraid that labor the world over is treated like chatal more often than not. That is the larger issue underlying all of this. While we are absorbing budget cuts and salary reductions, the Wall St. and Banking Executives (thanks to our children's, children's tax money) have had one of the best years ever, just finishing the hand-out of multi-million dollar bonuses (for what). What will it take to change this and how long will people continue to be willing to act as if they don't see what is actually going on?

  6. Although I selected Anonymous for this posting, I wish to identify myself as Hans Isakson.

    I understand and share everyone's frustrations with these temporary salary cuts. I think we can all agree that all of us have some serious adjustments to make in our budgets for the next six months. Every employee at UNI is taking a pay cut, not just faculty. But, becausse we are unionized, our temporary salary cuts are lower and better structured than the rest of the employees.

    Let me share some relevant information with everyone, so that we can all engage in this conversation with a common understanding of the situation. Non-UF members may not be aware of the information below.

    The BOR & administration was committed to extract their "pound of flesh" from the faculty, one way or another. The choices facing UF were (1) take a temporary pay cut to save jobs and preserve teaching loads or (2) refuse to take pay cuts and suffer the layoffs (implemented at once) of some 70 instructors with the classes of these laid-off instructors assigned to the remaining faculty. The UF members choose the temporary pay cuts in order to save jobs and preserve teaching loads. I think that the UF members made the right choice. If the MOU had not passed, 70 instructors would have received layoff notices as early as today, and most of us would be teaching 4 or 5 classes for the rest of the semester starting Monday morning.

    The BOR & administration wanted faculty to give back $850,000. UF negotiated the temporary salary cuts down to $520,000. Without a union, our salary cuts would have been nearly 40% higher than want UF negotiated. Indeed, in percentage terms, faculty are giving up less (1.41%) than any other employee group. The other groups are giving up 2 to 4 percent.

    If the MOU had failed to pass, the BOR & administration would have implemented Article 5 (staff reductions), laid-off some 70 FTE instructors, and assigned the classes of the laid-off instructor to the remaining faculty.

    The BOR & administration made it perfectly clear that faculty would NOT be allowed to reduce their duties or take unpaid days off, like the other employee groups. Faculty also made it clear to UF that they did not want furlough days, because furlough days would be a sham. Many of us have teaching and/or research responsibilities every day, making furlough days an impossibility. But, there is another hazzard to furlough days. Specifically, furlough days imply that faculty have so much free time during the work week that we can take an unpaid day off now and then and still complete 100% of our work responsibilities and duties.

    The correct factor to use to convert your salary from dollars to days is 0.383333. That is, first convert your salary cut into percentage terms. Then divide your percentage pay cut by 0.383333 to convert it into days. You will find that your temporary salary cut is far less in terms of days than the other university employees. But, this conversion is misleading, because faculty are not allowed to reduce their work effort or duties.

    Finally, I urge all of you to maintain your usual high standards and work ethic during the months ahead. I know that this temporary salary cut with no additional days off is frustrating, especially when other employees are getting the unpaid days off. Let's all rise above this sort of petty thinking and continue to deliver our very best efforts to our beloved institution.


  7. This post is in response to the following comments:

    "Many of us have teaching and/or research responsibilities every day, making furlough days an impossibility. But, there is another hazzard to furlough days. Specifically, furlough days imply that faculty have so much free time during the work week that we can take an unpaid day off now and then and still complete 100% of our work responsibilities and duties."

    This type of thinking makes absolutely no sense because what is being said is, in effect, we did not need the time (or money) that this reduction in pay represented to complete all of the assigned work. This is predicated on the fundamental labor assumption that time = money.

    If you hire someone to complete a renovation for you and you can only pay for 1/2 of the original get 1/2 of the work.

    The logic presented above makes absolutely no sense, and, in fact, undermines the premise that it is based on, and makes it look like we had extra time/money (fat) to trim. It is not, "petty thinking" so do not call people "petty" by extension when they expect to be VALUED for their efforts and labor. In fact, it is the reason that people join unions in the first place.

  8. Quick questions for the UF negotiating team (anyone who has an answer can feel free to post it):

    1. I have now seen 3 seperate versions of the conversion factor. All of them origininated with the UF leadership, Executive Board. Can anyone explain why their are three different conversion factors?

    2. When you negotiated with the BOR, did they explain how they would layoff Adjuncts which are paid for by grant and contract funds that did not have anything to do with the General Fund. Or did you point this out to them?

    3. Finally, I have also heard that the BOR never once threatened to invoke Article 5 at UNI. Does anyone on the negotiating team care to respond to that assertion?

  9. Perhaps if union dues were lower across the board to entice participation, we would have a better insight into the specifics as we would all be more likely to participate.

    Between the "UF vs. us" emails, the latest round of emails, and the reorganization/prioritization procees, I have little faith in any leadership on this campus.....from top to bottom.

  10. For those of you that are looking to cut and run, good luck! I am fairly confident that things are no better anywhere else.

    Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

  11. Is Hans suggesting that it is petty to want to be paid for one's work? I do want to be paid for my work, and I do not want to work when I am not paid.

    As far as I can tell, most colleges and universities in the U.S. have 14 week semesters. If faculty at other institutions are able to teach their courses in a shorter semester, I can't see why we at UNI can't do the same. We could have shortened the semester, adjusting it so as to correspond to the adjustment in our pay.

    Concerning Hans' assertion that the administration insisted on both cutting faculty pay and not cutting faculty work-load, though all other employees are experiencing cuts in both pay and work, I can't understand why it was considered acceptable to negotiate from such an unreasonable starting point.

    I know faculty at institutions in other states, and none of them have had their salaries cut, their teaching assignments increased, or their retirement contributions cut.

  12. Hmm....very interesting posts. I see many resonable and thoughtful posts here interspersed with some very dissappointing, "love it or leave it" snipes.

    It is hardly worth the comment but, "don't let the door hit you," post should have been out-grown in high school.

    I think there have been a number of creative ideas posted here about how this could have been handled...renegotiate research/service requirements for the rest of the year, negotiate a shorter semester, look at how other institutions have coped, require more sacrifice from athletics something which is not a core part of the educational short, make the administration accountable to some reasonalbe faculty governance. This seems to have only partially happened in this instance.

    There is no doubt that dealing with the administration and with the BOR is a stessor for those in the UF who have committed themselves to this effort. And, I thank you for what you have done. I just think there was some kind of break down in good communication here. Some of us were unclear about what we were voting on.

    Is it possible that we need some new leadership and leadership approaches with UF? How can these processes be made more tranparent? Why wasn't there more communication via the media? It just seems that as a result of this agreement we are saying that we just didn't need the extra time and money the salary reduction represented. That is the wrong message to send in my opnion if there was no consequent reduction in what was delivered. If we are able to carry-on after this as if nothing ever happened, why did we need that salary to begin with?

  13. "For those of you that are looking to cut and run, good luck! I am fairly confident that things are no better anywhere else. Don't let the door hit you on the way out."

    Spoken like a true lap dog for the administration... There are many jobs outside pathetic Iowa, and the poorly administrated UNI. One just has to look. Heck the other two state universities do a far better job of taking care of their faculty and staff than UNI.

    Allen was hired to keep UNI down. Keep the union down. Keep UNI just where it is... 3rd... a very weak 3rd place. UNI needs a president from outside the state, outside the system that knows how to run a university, take care of its people, not do whatever they're told by outside forces. Allen has done nothing. Are you any better off today as a result of his administration?

  14. Yes we are caught in a tangled web that none of us like but my question is, as a faculty, are we looking to the future at this point? We should be because what UF has negotiated at this point might just be the tip of a bigger iceberg. True, some new blood is needed within the UF leadership but I feel there are more important and basic ideas that we as a faculty need to rally behind.
    Essentially we have to realize that we have lost the people of Iowa. We have lost the respect and honor once designated to the state universities of Iowa. Average Iowans don't understand our importance for the future of Iowa, for their children, grandchildren. They have not seen nor appreciate the steady decline in the quality of UNI students over the course of the past decade (or more).
    We must become more active within the community, with the people who can push the legislature on our behalf.
    Until we show them the downsides to our economy, to jobs, to the fabric of Iowa we can never gain the kind of ground we deserve.
    There are ways we can make statements. But UF and non-Uf members need to go beyond campus walls with this fight. The media is one avenue a rally might be another. Most importantly we need a broader informational campaign that the general public can understand and show them why UNI is not even close to living up to its potential.

  15. The cut and run comment was unecessary and I seriously question whether that was actually posted by any faculty at UNI. Perhaps that could be struck from an otherwise serious conversation.

  16. I confess my ignorance. Can someone tell me how things ARE in other states? I have a friend in Michigan who is says that they are talking furloughs at his (public) University. Is there data how our faculty is faring compared to other public universities?

  17. I spoke to a friend of mine from Towson today. He stated that their faculty are taking five furlough days this year and probably 10 furlough days next year, for what it is worth.

  18. I spoke to a colleague at Kent State and they gave all their faculty a 2,000 dollar bonus this year because of increased enrollment. The Kent State system in Ohio has experienced increased enrollment and increased success with grant funding, as a result their President said that all faculty would benefit from the situation. The Union was at first skeptical, but this turned out to be the real thing. There are no lay-offs or salary cuts happening and moral is good.

  19. Just do a google news search of "furlough faculty"

    Illinois, Southern Illinois, San Diego State, Fresno, Hawaii, Georgia...