From the President of the TAUP: Priorities and Prospects
—William W. Cutler, III
William W. Cutler, III,
It hardly seems possible, but it has been almost two years since the members of TAUP overwhelmingly ratified the collective bargaining agreement that will be in force until October 2008. As most of you no doubt recall, the ratification of this contract occurred nearly six months late; this was because negotiations continued long after our previous contract’s expiration date. Since then, many things have changed. There is a new administration and the climate at Temple seems to be getting better. But no matter what the climate, the time will soon be upon us when negotiations must begin again. In light of this reality, it seems to me that the moment is right to assess the current contract and to reflect as well upon the state of TAUP.
Under the current collective bargaining agreement many improvements have been made. There are more study leaves than ever before and an unprecedented pool of money for merit. The 75 study leaves that were allocated this year (for use next year) will become more than 90 in 2008. Almost $966,000 in merit money is being distributed this year. Next time that figure will closely approach $1 million because this summer our salary pool will increase by two percent. There is greater clarity about the standards for tenure and promotion at Temple today and greater transparency in the procedures for making high stakes personnel decisions.
But there are important features of the current contract that cry out for more attention. The contract mandates the development of guidelines for the appointment and reappointment of full-time, non-tenure-track faculty. The work that the thirteen schools and colleges in the bargaining unit have put into this assignment varies widely. Some have written and adopted detailed policy documents while others have prepared guidelines that are cryptic by comparison. In this case, one size doesn’t fit all, but the difference between the eighteen page document in Health Professions and the four page document in CLA is striking. Is there a happy medium? Perhaps central administration needs to give the deans some direction on this.
Collaboration between the union and the administration on some important matters, as specified in the current contract, remains incomplete. The contract calls for three union/management study committees: one on intellectual property, one on health care cost containment, and one on child care policies. The last two have been formed and one of them has even been renamed; the child care policy committee is now the Work-Family Balance Committee. Its work has led to the development of some new, more family friendly policies for Temple. But the intellectual property committee has never met, and even the Work-Family Balance Committee has some work to do. For example, the new family friendly policies do not acknowledge that for a tenure track faculty member on a paid leave of absence (e.g. sick or maternity) the tenure clock stops ticking (See Article 22 G.7).
Part of the problem here for both TAUP and the administration has been the press of other business. But TAUP has also encountered difficulty finding people from the bargaining unit to serve on these committees. Indifference to committee work is understandable, especially given the new reward structure at Temple. But our own self-interest is at stake. Because of our ever increasing dependence on university owned computers and software, the need for an up-to-date intellectual property policy is immediate. All of us—faculty, staff and administration—will be the better for it if we make a commitment to volunteer for these committees and resolve these issues before negotiations begin again.
In addition to these items of unfinished business, there are two other important matters on my mind as TAUP president. You should not be surprised to read that the union’s leadership is committed to achieving an agency fee in 2007 or 2008. Dues-paying membership may be near an all-time high, but more than 400 people in the bargaining unit remain content to accept the benefits of union representation without paying for them. That said, I want to add that TAUP needs to do a better job of attracting leaders from every corner of its constituency. In some schools and colleges, faculty participation in the work of TAUP is anemic.
This spring you will elect two new TAUP officers. Both Elaine Mackowiak, the vice president, and I will not stand for re-election. Speaking only for myself, six years as an officer is long enough—both for me and the union. As I approach my fortieth year on the Temple faculty, I want to return full-time to that which brought me here in the first place—research and teaching.
I hope that you will extend to the new officers the support that you have given me. But they will need more than your support. They will need your time and effort too. I have heard it said that TAUP is an organization of insiders; “old boy network.” is the phrase that has sometimes been used. Whether this is or ever has been true, I believe that no organization can survive—let alone prosper—without a regular infusion of new ideas and fresh leadership. If you think Temple is better off for having TAUP, I urge you to think about getting more involved in the important work we do.