Hello TT Faculty members,
The parties engaged in a mediated bargaining session assisted by Federal Mediator Brittney Howard on January 23, 2019. At this session, AAUP-KSU agreed to accept the administration’s proposal of November 21, 2018 for Article II (Recognition and Dues Deduction), and the parties signed a tentative agreement on that article. The only Articles that remain in dispute are the three economic Articles XII (Salary), XIII (Medical Benefits), and XIV (Other Benefits). While some progress was made at the mediated session, the movement on the part of the administration was insufficient to make AAUP-KSU optimistic that the impasse on the three economic articles can be resolved at the table.
Summary of the Administration’s Position:
At the mediated session on January 23rd, the administration presented AAUP-KSU with a one-page document that was labeled “Proposal” and consisted of bullet-points relating to some of the outstanding issues in Articles XII (Salary) and XIII (Medical Benefits). Despite having had more than a month since the last mediated session in which to develop its proposals, the administration presented no explicit language for either article. AAUP-KSU expressed disappointment that the one-page bullet-point document did not meet the guidelines specified in the ground rules agreed upon by the parties for proposals and counter-proposals. Moreover, none of the bullet-points addressed any of the outstanding issues in Article XIV (Other Benefits). To date, AAUP-KSU has received no response from the administration to our initial proposal for Article XIV (Other Benefits) of September 19, 2018. It is unclear why the administration has failed to provide any response on this article.
With respect to salary, the administration is now proposing that all Faculty will receive a 2% standard increment (across the board raise) in AY 20/21. For the first time, the administration is proposing that raises for AY 18/19 will be retroactive to the start of the academic year. They have not otherwise moved away from their last proposal and remain committed to the divisive tiered approach to standard increment. Their salary proposal is now the equivalent of 1.94% across the board in the first year, 1.83% in the second year, 2%, in the third year, and 0% for merit increases. The movement relative to their previous proposal of October 24, 2018 is the equivalent of only 0.6% of continuing Faculty salaries. As was true of their previous offer, this salary package entails that all Faculty would see decreases in real wages over the life of the contract and would be the weakest salary package contained in any contract since (and including) 1985!
With respect to medical benefits, the administration proposed a minor reduction in the annual out of pocket maximum for the 85/60 PPO plan they propose as a replacement for the current 90/70 and 80/60 PPO plans. Despite this movement, the annual out of pocket maximum for in network coverage on the 85/60 PPO plan is 60% higher than on the 90/70 PPO plan and 33.3% higher than on the 80/60 PPO plan. When the deductible, annual out of pocket maximum, and employee share of premium are factored in, the increase in the cost of the 85/60 plan is the equivalent of between 0.64%-0.66% of the median Faculty salary for single coverage (depending upon whether the Faculty member is currently enrolled in the 90/70 or 80/60 PPO plan) and between 1.37%-1.50% of the median Faculty salary for family coverage. This does not take into account the additional costs that Faculty currently enrolled in the 90/70 plan would face given the shift to only 85% in network coverage and 60% for out of network coverage. (More than 80% of Faculty are currently enrolled in the 90/70 PPO plan.)
Summary of AAUP-KSU’s Proposals of January 23, 2019:
In response to the administration’s one-paged bullet-point “proposal,” AAUP-KSU made formal counter-proposals with explicit language on Articles XII (Salary) and XIII (Medical Benefits). With respect to Article XII, we reduced our proposal for a merit pool in the second year of the contract from 2.25% to 2% and withdrew our proposed changes to various aspects of the merit process. AAUP-KSU continues to propose across the board raises of 3.5% for AY 18/19, 3% for AY 19/20, and 3.5% for AY 20/21. Additionally we propose a $1,000 increase in the promotion increment for promotion to Associate Professor (the parties have already agreed to a $1,000 increase in the promotion increment for promotion to Full Professor) and a 5% increase to the salary floors for each rank.
With respect to Article XIII, AAUP-KSU withdrew its proposal for language that would have guaranteed that the preventive services covered by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would be offered free of charge on all plans—including plans that remain grandfathered and so are not required by the ACA to provide such services free of charge—even if the ACA were repealed. AAUP-KSU continues to propose that all forms of contraceptives—including IUDs—be covered on all plans. AAUP-KSU predicts that, as a result of these negotiations, there will be no plans offered by the University that remain grandfathered in 2020.
Next steps in the process:
There are currently no future bargaining sessions scheduled. AAUP-KSU’s team remains willing to meet with the administration’s team if and when the administration has explicit proposals (and not merely bullet-points) for the three articles that remain open.
Meanwhile, the parties have selected Mr. Barton Bixenstine to serve as fact-finder. With the assistance of Mr. Bixenstine, the parties will identify a mutually agreeable date and time for the fact-finding hearing. Prior to the hearing, the parties will each submit a position statement to Mr. Bixenstine. At the hearing, each side will present evidence supporting its position. Mr. Bixenstine will consider the evidence presented and issue a report outlining his non-binding proposal for a fair settlement on the outstanding issues. AAUP-KSU will then conduct a vote of our dues paying membership on whether or not to accept the fact-finder’s report. At the same time, the Board of Trustees will vote on the fact-finder’s report. If both parties accept the fact-finder’s report, it (along with the previously agreed upon provisions) becomes the basis of the new contract. If either party rejects the fact-finder’s report, the administration has the right to simply impose its “last, best, final offer.” If that happens, AAUP-KSU has only two options: simply accept the administration’s imposed contract or call a strike. (See Frequently Asked Questions about Strike Authorization and What Happens During a Strike?)
Deborah C. Smith
Chief Negotiator, AAUP-KSU Tenured & Tenure Track Unit