Bailey comments on proposed FY 20 UConn “unbalanced budget” at BOT

Executive Director addresses the Board of Trustees regarding the impact of the SERS unfunded liability and its impact on the proposed budget. See the text of the statement below:

     


June 26, 2019

Good Morning Mr. Chairman and Members of the Board of Trustees

My name is Michael Bailey, Executive Director of the AAUP Chapter at UConn

Later this morning, Executive Vice President for Administration and CFO Scott Jordan will be presenting for your consideration the proposed budget for the coming fiscal year.  For the first time as CFO, Scott will be asking the Trustees to approve a budget in deficit: nearly $20 million for UConn Storrs and another $7 million for UConn Health. You will hear that the budget would have been balanced, but for the unfunded pension liability costs associated with the State Employee Retirement Plan and retiree health insurance. 

From the beginning, the State never adequately funded the benefits it promised in 1939, relying on unrealistic investment returns and constantly refinancing the debt when the budget got a little tight. The State never saved a dime to pay for them until the 1970s. By 2014, the State had amassed roughly $100 billion in unfunded retirement liabilities; SERS alone has more than $20 billion (nearly all from Tier I, which has been closed to new employees since 1984).

To pay for all this borrowing, the Comptroller builds it into the current fringe rate as a surcharge.  In FY19, the surcharge for SERS unfunded liability was about 34% of salary, plus another 21% for unfunded liability in the retiree health insurance plan.  By comparison, the so-called normal cost of retirement – what it costs to prefund one’s retirement benefits, including pension and healthcare – was under 10%.  So, of that 96% fringe rate, more than half (55% of salary) has nothing whatsoever to do with the employee’s own benefits.

Thanks to the unfunded liability, UConn’s sponsored project fringe rates run about 25 percentage points higher than at competing institutions.  This leaves our PIs with less money to spend on actual research, which means fewer discoveries, fewer inventions, fewer publications, and fewer grant applications going out the next funding cycle.  And those grant applications that do go out are less competitive, because the granting agencies know that they will get more research for their money if they give it to another institution. That harms our researchers, our university, and ultimately our state as it means the University generates fewer jobs than it otherwise could.

For this reason, UConn-AAUP and our sister union at the Health Center, UCH-AAUP, spent the last year looking for a legislative solution.  We met numerous times with our elected representatives and, along with our CFO Scott Jordan and others, gave countless hours of testimony at legislative hearings.  Thanks especially to Representative Gregg Haddad, we eventually managed to get this problem in front of the Appropriations Committee, which was able to provide an additional $33 million to UConn Health to partially offset their high cost for unfunded liability.  Unfortunately they were unable to provide anything for the rest of the University, but we will be meeting with legislators again in the fall to try again.

What we can’t do is blame our current problems on collective bargaining.  First of all, most of the unfunded liability is associated with Tier I of the pension system, which predates state employee collective bargaining by about 40 years.  By contrast, the later tiers, which were bargained with SEBAC, are actuarially well-funded and also far less generous.

Second, it needs to be said that state employees and their unions have stepped up to the plate, repeatedly, to help solve the state’s budget problems:  in 2009, and 2011, and again in 2017. We have had furlough days, salary freezes, benefit cuts, and increased cost-sharing. The 2017 SEBAC deal alone will save the state an estimated $25 billion over 10 years.  (That’s about $60,000 per employee!) Today’s state employees are not the problem and they certainly cannot be the entire solution.  

Thank you.


 

Constitutional Amendments Voted on at 2019 Annual Meeting

June 17, 2019—We are pleased to announce that the AAUP will be moving forward with organizational changes after affirmative votes at last week’s AAUP annual meeting and AAUP Collective Bargaining Congress regular meeting. Both bodies voted overwhelmingly to proceed with a package of changes that combines the AAUP-CBC and the AAUP. The AAUP-CBC will no longer exist as a separate entity and its programs will be transferred to the AAUP. This will streamline our governance and organizational structure to ensure that we are using our resources to support our chapters and conferences.


The 105th AAUP Annual Meeting was held on June 15, 2019. The meeting voted on organizational changes, including proposed amendments to the AAUP Constitution. The proposed amendments to the constitution, a summary of the proposed constitutional changes, and the Joint Resolution and Constitutional Amendment proviso referenced below are available as a pdf packet here.

The 105th AAUP Annual Meeting was held at the DoubleTree Hotel Washington DC-Crystal City, located at 300 Army Navy Drive in Arlington, Virginia.

The proposed organizational changes were a package and required approval of two motions by the AAUP annual meeting and one, dissolving the AAUP-CBC, by the AAUP-CBC regular meeting. A Joint Resolution provided the language of the motions and states that they must be adopted in toto, without revision or amendment, by their respective memberships or none would be implemented. Thus, if any of the motions had failed to pass as proposed, any remaining motions would not have been voted upon and any motions that had passed would not become effective.Information about the process by which the AAUP Council and the AAUP-Collective Bargaining Congress Executive Committee decided to bring these proposed changes to the 2019 annual meeting for a vote is available below in the FAQs about Proposed Restructuring.

Moving forward with the organizational changes required approval by the AAUP annual meeting of the following (see the Joint Resolution for exact motion language).

  • Proposed amendments to the AAUP Constitution codifying changes directed by the AAUP Council and the AAUP-CBC Executive Committee in November 2018. A Constitutional Amendment Proviso establishing the transitional leadership structure for the newly combined organization is included in the motion proposing the amendments.
  • A recommendation to roll CBC dues into AAUP collective bargaining dues, effective January 1, 2020. This would result in a one-time increase of $23 for the full-time, entrant, and associate categories of AAUP collective bargaining dues and a one-time increase of $10 for part-time and graduate student AAUP collective bargaining dues. The AAUP-CBC would dissolve and therefore CBC dues would no longer be collected effective January 1, 2020.

If, after reading through the documents, you have questions, please feel free to email them to executivedirector@aaup.org.

These recommendations grew out of the shared priorities and organizational vision of the AAUP and the AAUP-CBC. The AAUP and AAUP-CBC elected leadership believes that we are one profession, regardless of institution type, tenure status, rank, job title, or collective bargaining status. We are strongest when we focus on building and supporting chapters and empowering our members to effect change at the campus level. We are excited about these changes and believe that they will result in a stronger AAUP, one that is best situated to thrive for another hundred years.

The annual meeting included opportunities to discuss the proposals, as well as additional business sessions regarding restructuring planning. We also had a series of opportunities this spring to hear from members and to answer questions.

We believe that these changes will result in a smarter, more responsive AAUP, one that embraces the One Faculty model.

AAUP 2019 Awards To Honor Outstanding Faculty Activists

Georgina M. Smith Award
Jennifer K. Kerns of Portland State University and Christine Blasey Ford of Palo Alto University will be each awarded the AAUP’s Georgina M. Smith Award on June 15 at the AAUP’s annual conference. The award is presented to a person or persons who has provided exceptional leadership in a given year in improving the status of academic women or in academic collective bargaining and through that work has improved the profession in general. Dr. Kerns and Dr. Ford have each provided such leadership.

Over the past year, Christine Blasey Ford has demonstrated remarkable courage, grace, and generosity in sharing her own story of sexual assault in the highly public and publicized U.S. Senate hearing.  While her intentions were simply to share her experience so that the Senate could make a fully informed decision about a Supreme Court nomination, her actions have also advanced the status of academic women, along with that of women in general.  and the status of the academy, and the practice of scientific inquiry more broadly.

Jennifer Kerns is currently in her third year as vice president for organizing for the Portland State University chapter of AAUP. The position was created after PSU-AAUP’s historic contract campaign that led to a strike call in 2014, to reflect the organizing priorities a union needs to thrive in the current era . She hosted listening sessions with members of faculty and academic professionals who identified as women, LGBTQ, persons of color, parents and caregivers, and/or persons with disabilities. This work led a  number of people who had not been previously active in the chapter to become member volunteers so as to advance social justice on campus through the labor movement. As a result of her outstanding organizing, PSU-AAUP membership rose after the Janus decision and is now has the highest percentage  of faculty members in its 41-year history.

Marilyn Sternberg Award
Noeleen McIlvenna of Wright State University is the recipient of the AAUP-CBC’s 2019 Marilyn Sternberg Award. The award is presented to an AAUP member who demonstrates concern for human rights, courage, persistence, political foresight, imagination, and collective bargaining skills. Professor McIlvenna  took over the newly created position of contract administration officer for her chapter during a time when her university’s administration and board were in the midst of running through more than $130 million in reserves. This ultimately resulted in a largely self-created financial crisis. When the chapter began negotiating a new contract and encountered stubborn resistance from the administration, she took on an increasing role in organizing and in the eventual successful strike by AAUP-WSU members. The strike may end up being viewed as an important part of  a resurgence of faculty labor activism both at Wright State and at other universities in Ohio. Without her dedication the chapter would not be as strong as it is today.

Outstanding Achievement Award
The Wright State University AAUP chapter is the recipient of AAUP’s 2019 Outstanding Achievement Award. The award is presented to an outstanding chapter in advancing academic freedom or shared governance; promoting the economic security of academics; helping the higher education community organize; or ensuring higher education’s contribution to the common good. Chapter members fought an unjust contract–staying united throughout the longest strike in Ohio higher education history– to stand for what was best for the university and their students. The faculty at Wright State didn’t crack under pressure and have inspired other chapters towards collective action.

Two Institutions Added to AAUP’s Censure List, One to List of Sanctioned Institutions

Delegates to the 105th Annual Meeting of the AAUP voted today to add St. Edward’s University (Texas) and Nunez Community College (Louisiana) to the AAUP’s list of administrations censured for failing to observe generally recognized principles of academic freedom and tenure. Delegates also voted to add Vermont Law School to the AAUP’s list of institutions sanctioned for serious departures from AAUP-supported standards of academic governance and to remove Idaho State University from the list.

Censure by the AAUP informs the public as well as the academic community that the administration of an institution has not adhered to the generally recognized principles of academic freedom and tenure jointly formulated in 1940 by the AAUP and the Association of American Colleges and Universities and endorsed by more than 250 professional and educational organizations. As of today, 58 institutions remain on the censure list.

AAUP sanction is imposed when an institution violates  generally accepted standards of college and university governance, as set forth in the Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities

Added to the AAUP’s Censure List in 2019:

  • St. Edward’s University (Austin, Texas) — The investigating committee’s report concerned the dismissals of two tenured faculty members and the nonrenewal of a tenure-track faculty member. In dismissing the two tenured professors without affording them academic due process, the committee concluded the St. Edward’s administration violated key provisions of the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure and derivative AAUP-supported procedural standards. The committee also found credible the two faculty members’ claims that their criticism of administrative decisions had led to the actions against them. With regard to the tenure-track faculty member, the committee found that she had not been afforded adequate notice of nonrenewal or the opportunity to appeal the decision to a faculty body. The committee also found credible her allegation that the nonrenewal was a consequence of her having lodged complaints of sexual harassment against an administrator, noting that the allegation remained unrefuted absent an appropriate faculty review procedure. General conditions for academic freedom and governance at St. Edward’s University were found to be “abysmal,” with “fear and demoralization” widespread among the faculty.
  • Nunez Community College (Chalmette, Louisiana) — The administration terminated the services of an associate professor of English who had served the institution for twenty-two years. The investigating committee concluded that the administration had not afforded the professor the dismissal hearing to which he was entitled as the result of having obtained de facto tenure through length of service (the college does not have  a formal system of academic tenure). The investigating committee further concluded that the administration took the action in violation of the professor’s academic freedom to speak on institutional matters without fear of reprisal.

Added to AAUP’s Sanctioned Institutions list in 2019:

  • Vermont Law School (South Royalton, Vermont) – The investigating committee’s report describes departures from AAUP-supported standards of academic governance evident in a faculty “restructuring” process at Vermont Law School that resulted in lowering salaries, reducing the number of full-time positions, and effectively eliminating the tenured status of nearly 75 percent of the institution’s highest paid faculty members. Fourteen of the nineteen tenured faculty members were essentially turned into at-will employees—transferring the bulk of the teaching load to lesser-paid faculty members serving on contingent appointments and radically reducing the size of the full-time faculty. Faculty members who accepted restructured appointments in lieu of termination were required to sign releases-of-claims and nondisclosure and non-disparagement agreements. The investigating committee found that the faculty played no meaningful role in analyzing, assessing, or, most important, approving the restructuring plan. The report also found that unacceptable conditions of academic governance prevail at the institution.

Removed from the Sanctioned Institutions List:

  • Idaho State University (Pocatello, Idaho) – The administration of Idaho State University was sanctioned in 2011 after the Idaho State Board of Education suspended the faculty senate on the recommendation of the university’s president, following several years of intense conflict between the senate and the administration. In spring 2018 the president whose actions led to the sanction, retired, and his successor approved a proposed new faculty senate constitution that the faculty had ratified. Following its adoption by the state board of education, faculty this spring elected a new senate under the revised constitution. The faculty senate, the university’s AAUP chapter, and the administration supported removing the sanction, and an AAUP representative who recently visited the campus found conditions for faculty governance at ISU to be sound.

Additional Investigations

  • Maricopa Community Colleges (Tempe, Arizona) — An investigating committee inquired into the actions of the governing board of the Maricopa County Community College District to terminate “meet-and-confer,” a process that the faculty and administration had used for four decades to establish  institutional policies related to faculty and to make recommendations to the board concerning faculty salaries and academic budgets. The governing board also mandated the repeal of the entire faculty manual and directed the administration to oversee the creation of a new one, effectively stripping faculty of the right to participate in institutional decision making. Since the committee’s first assessment, the situation for faculty at Maricopa County Community Colleges has taken a welcome turn. Three new members were elected to the district governing board, and a new board president was elected. Among the first actions of the board’s new leadership was to adopt a resolution that rescinded the termination of  meet-and-confer and the repeal of the faculty manual. As sound principles of academic governance are in the process of being restored, the Committee on College and University Governance chose to monitor developments and did not make a recommendation regarding sanction to this annual meeting.

AAUP investigating committees are appointed in a few select cases annually in which severe departures from widely accepted principles and standards on academic freedom, tenure, or governance have been alleged and persist despite efforts to resolve them. Investigating committees are composed of faculty members from other institutions with no previous involvement in the matter. If the investigating committee’s published report finds that serious violations have occurred and an appropriate resolution cannot be achieved, the AAUP may place an institution on its censure or sanction list, which informs the academic community and the public that conditions for academic freedom or shared governance at the institution are unsound.