First, a little trip into the way-back machine: Back at the near-beginning of our current contract negotiations Inside Higher Education was already reporting disturbing trends in the ways university administrations were working their way around financial exigency policies to layoff tenured professors. The FA did not manifest its concerns about the weakening of tenure as merely a paranoid fantasy. They saw what was happening elsewhere, and they saw very clear signs that the new Administration meant to lay the foundation for similar strategies here.
In the several proposals made by the FA regarding FE, there is a clear theme: transparency and accountability. More accurately, I believe there has been a clear attempt to preserve checks and balances in the shared governance of this university. The comments section of this blog is full of many differing opinions about what the Chancellor, the BOT, and the faculty (as represented by FA, FS, or even a gaggle of soggy picnickers) can legally do re: FE. An emergent theme there is the role trust should play in any policy creation and its deployment -- and more pointedly, who has the greater role to play in building trust (or, conversely, who bears the greater responsibility for its erosion).
On that point, it might be worth considering a different route to trust. Consider how President Richard Rubsamen of Sierra Nevada College addressed the financial crisis at his institution this month. As reported in the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza, he resigned, stating:
I was tasked by the board with planning for financial sustainability in order to (ensure) the long term health of the college...It was clear to me where reductions had to occur. While the idea of leaving the college is very difficult, it is the right thing to do. I need to lead by example and practice what we teach.In addition, staff and administrative employees will take a 5 to 10 percent pay cut. Wow.
Granted, it is not the purpose of the current labor negotiations to dictate layoffs and resignations of administrators. Even if it was, calling for or demanding such a reduction in administrative work force would not result in much trust building. Still, there are gestures (symbolic and material) available to the Administration to move beyond imposing burdens to sharing them. It's hard to trust those who impose.