Randy Auxier can correct me here if I'm wrong, as I'm mainly summarizing his report (together with his fellow bargaining team member Daren Callahan) at the FA meeting tonight (Tuesday). The FA bargaining team met this morning with their administrative counterparts for the first time since the administration's imposition of terms. The FA proposed a discussion of workload issues. I'm no expert on this topic, but such concerns are particularly pressing in CASA, where the disconnect between contact hours and credit hours has generated all sorts of problems not readily reducible to the 12 credit hour per semester rule. The administration suggested distance learning, and the FA team agreed--as one of the issues here is indeed how to manage workload and compensation issues. The discussion (more on it after the break) was positive in tone and content, as, at least on the level of general principles, little appears to separate the administration from the FA on this issue.
This is, Randy emphasized, precisely the sort of positive conversation that could have taken place months ago, had the administration team not been focused solely on seeking FA agreement to the four furlough days and, failing that, on getting to impasse. Distance education and workload were among the major items the two sides have never really had the chance to discuss earlier.
The administration is moving to shift 'ownership' of distance ed to the academic programs, so that decisions about distance learning would be made in the same way as decisions about other academic programs. And the administration expressed its interest in not undercutting on-campus offerings through an incentive structure that would motivate departments and individuals to shift their efforts from on-campus to off-campus courses. All this is well and good.
And in addition to working out the details of compensation, the major hurdle here from the FA perspective is ensuring that departmental faculty are the prime authors of departmental operating papers. The FA has proposed a procedure in which faculty can override administrative objections to their operating paper revisions. The administration has complained that the FA wants to contractualize everything on campus, as this imposes a one size fits all standard on campus. But the FA is in fact quite willing to leave such matters to individual academic units--so long as there is a process in place that ensures that faculty will be able to design and manage their programs.
We should of course not assume that one positive session means that all our problems will soon be resolved. The most glaring unresolved issues--salaries and the status of tenure--were not discussed. The idea was to try to make progress on something a bit less difficult. And some preliminary progress may have been made. But before we know it (July 1), we will be in another fiscal year. And if the Chancellor's presentation on Friday is any clue, she is planning on more furlough days next year.