stipulate the minimum amount of notice the University can provide to the Faculty Association and any affected faculty prior to a reduction in force and provide the structure for reductions in force in the event such a reduction in force becomes necessary (something we all hope will never come to pass)Fuller analysis of the this will have to wait till later. After the break, my own quick first take, links to the relevant documents, and the full text of the Chancellor's email (in case you aren't on her faculty email list).
I hope we can take the Chancellor at her word, or rather that the two sides can arrange for clearer contractual language that will make it clear that the Board's previous policy on tenure remains intact--and will remain intact for the length of the contract period. While the Board policy does not provide the amount of protection the FA proposal would grant (in Board policy Faculty have only "input", not an equal role, in determining financial exigency), the board policy certainly represents a far better state of affairs that the language of the imposed terms themselves would produce.
But was the FA's interpretation of the imposed terms a hysterical overreaction? No. And are we out of the woods yet? No.
- The words in the imposed terms that the Chancellor calls to our attention ("Nothing in this article shall be a contravention of University policy") are buried a subsection (19.04a) of the imposed policy, where they could easily be taken for boilerplate (which indeed may have been all they were meant to be in the first place).
- The sentence preceding the words on Board Policy reads as follows: "Until the effective date of the reduction in force, the University shall provide access to the University Placement Service for assistance in locating other employment outside the University." The most natural reading of the words the Chancellor quotes would thus be some application to this (minor) provision.
- The words on Board policy did not appear in the original board proposal regarding reduction in force. Their inclusion in the latest Board proposal is thus a step forward, but if they were meant as a major concession it is decidedly odd that they were tucked away in such an obscure corner of the imposed terms.
- The contract normally trumps Board policy (see Article 3 of the 2006-2010 contract). Hence were the contractual language to allow the Board more power than the Board's own policy does, the contract would win.
- The Board may of course change its own policies. Given the precedent of the massive change to allow for "unpaid administrative closures", and the Board's first proposal that lacked any reference to Board policy, it is essential that the status of tenure be given contractual form.
In any event, this controversy shows the need for clear contractual language specifying the protections provided by tenure.
The board's initial "Reduction in Force Proposal" of December.
The "Reduction in Force" language in the imposed terms.
SIU Board of Trustees Policies
The FA's reduction in force proposal
The 2006-2010 Contract
The Chancellor's email of April 27
Despite recent allegations to the contrary, I wish to reassure you that the rights and protections of tenure as defined by the SIU Board of Trustees Policy (See SIU Board Policies, 2.C.e.2.b) have not changed.
Recently, numerous reports and concerns have been raised related to the potential elimination of tenure based on the reduction in force language of the terms and conditions that currently apply to the Faculty Association. Nothing in the language in the reduction in force article erodes tenure protections for faculty members. Nor does it eliminate bargaining requirements with the Faculty Association. In fact, for tenured faculty, a determination of financial exigency or the discontinuance of a program would be required prior to any layoff.
Please note that the terms of the reduction in force article state that the article is not a „contravention of University policy.‰ For purposes of financially motivated reductions, University policy indicates that tenured faculty are terminated only in the event of a financial exigency (again, see SIU Board Policies, 2.C.e.2.b). Safeguards are in place for tenured faculty through that policy. The Policy also details the rights of constituencies in providing input into a determination of financial exigency by the Board. (See Board Policies, 2.C.f.1). As such, the faculty would have input into any Board decision on this matter.
In addition to the University policy on financial exigency, if the financial condition of the University was such that reductions in force for any faculty, tenured or tenure-track, were considered, decisions related to that reduction in force would have to be bargained with the Faculty Association. The terms of Article 19 stipulate the minimum amount of notice the University can provide to the Faculty Association and any affected faculty prior to a reduction in force and provide the structure for reductions in force in the event such a reduction in force becomes necessary (something we all hope will never come to pass). Further, the prior collective bargaining agreement addressed the manner in which a tenured faculty member‚s position could be terminated due to the discontinuance of a program (see Section 9.06 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement). This Article was not modified in the imposed terms and conditions.
I think we would all agree that this year has been particularly difficult. I appreciate that tensions are high due to the unprecedented financial challenges of 2011 and the budget uncertainty of the upcoming fiscal year.
On Friday, May 6th, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., in the Student Center Auditorium, I will host a year-end town hall meeting to discuss important campus issues, including our fiscal situation and provide opportunities for attendees to express their concerns as well as offer possible solutions.
Despite the challenges we face, it is important to not lose sight of how much we have accomplished this academic year. Your dedication to the success of our students and our University gives me great confidence in the future we can create together.