UPDATED: JUNE 23, 2020
The transition to online-only teaching, the closing down of campus, and other, significant changes to working conditions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in two recent bargaining sessions between NTFC representatives and the administration. Like many other higher education unions, we worked to develop a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the administration to get these items guaranteed by a written agreement.
The MOU memorializes the parties’ understandings about how the unprecedented circumstances of Spring 2020 affect the existing collective bargaining agreement. The parties also note that, because the COVID-19 pandemic is a dynamic situation, further bargaining may be needed to address future developments. Overall, it is the desire of the University to minimize the impact of COVID-19 on employees as much as possible
Items Covered by the MOU
The items here cover the impact of Spring 2020 on current and future matters. They have been agreed to and are awaiting final signatures. Bargaining sessions regarding the impact of mixed in-person and online instruction in the fall semester are schedule to begin in early July. The administration is in accordance with the following:
It is the intent of the University that these processes continue as usual, with as little impact from COVID-19 as possible. A communication will be sent from the Provost’s office to College human resource (HR) staff advising them that faculty processes should continue, which will include specialized faculty. Any specific issues with these processes should be brought to Labor and Employee Relations (LER) so they can be addressed.
Including Spring 2020 ICES scores for any future evaluation and promotion purposes will be optional, with no negative impact for those who choose not to include these scores. The University recognizes that this is an unusual time, and that students may use ICES scores as an opportunity to express frustrations about course-related matters over which specialized faculty members have no control.
Evaluation of Research, Service, Artistic, and Creative Work
The parties acknowledge that the pandemic could have a negative effect on the productivity of bargaining unit members in their research, service, artistic, and creative work. The effects of the disruptions caused by the pandemic on the research programs of bargaining unit members may have ramifications beyond Spring 2020. Departmental, college, and university bodies that evaluate the research, service, artistic, and creative activity of bargaining unit members shall take into account the short-term and long-term effects of the pandemic when making decisions evaluating bargaining unit members. Further, those decisions will in no way hold reduced research, artistic, or creative activity due to the pandemic against faculty in cases of evaluation or promotion. In performance evaluations, bargaining unit members may note reduced activity due to the effects of the pandemic.
Reappointments and Multi-year Contracts
NTFC members who are eligible for multi-year contracts and had already been notified of their eligibility do not need to receive the typical communication required by Article X, Section B(2) regarding their reappointment status, since the multi-year contract confirms that they are being reappointed for the upcoming academic year. In lieu of the reappointment communication, an e-mail was sent to these members to notify them that the multi-year contract would serve as their notification, and that they would not receive a separate notice.
Rollover of Professional Development Funds
The Union requested that members be able to rollover professional development funds, considering that many specialized faculty members typically use these funds in the Spring to attend conferences that were cancelled due to COVID-19. The University agrees that it makes sense to allow these funds to rollover on a one-time, non-precedent setting basis. This applies to professional development funds awarded pursuant to the collective bargaining agreement. Professional development funds awarded by colleges or departments separate and apart from the collective bargaining agreement shall still follow existing college or department rules and procedures about such funds. Because these funds are handled within each college, the logistics of how the rollover is handled will need to be determined.
Inadvertent Data Breaches
The University recognizes that the move to online courses is new for many specialized faculty members, and that mistakes can happen. An initial data breach occurrence typically results in education of the specialized faculty member to prevent a similar incident from occurring in the future. Employment action, including discipline, is typically issued for willful breaches, or for recurrent issues.
Our union works best when we all communicate what our concerns and priorities are. Have something you want us to discuss at the next bargaining session? Contact us.
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NTFC Communications Committee