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ACT-UAW – Part-Time Faculty Successor Contract Negotiations Update: Session #10

On September 29, 2022, the university participated in its 10th bargaining session with ACT-UAW, Local 7902. 

The university began by asking the union  questions about the union’s most recent proposal on Paid Academic Leave. The university’s chief bargaining spokesperson inquired about the union’s rationale for the proposed changes, including examples of faculty’s lived experience with the provision, inquired whether problems with the paid academic leave application process existed in the past, and asked how the union envisioned the provision working from a practical perspective if a large volume of bargaining unit members took paid academic leave at the same time. Initially, the union could not furnish any substantive background or context about its proposal.  Only after an extensive caucus did the union provide minimal context or response to the university’s questioning.  Instead the union advised the university to present a counterproposal in order to then facilitate dialogue about it, even though the university explained that understanding the union’s context behind a proposal gave the university its ability to formulate a response.

The university then followed up on the information requested at last week’s session regarding the union’s proposal on Faculty Rights & Responsibilities. The union provided only a few examples of very minor occurrences where faculty allege they did not initially have the materials or space adequate for teaching their classes. By and large, however, it seemed that the issues were eventually resolved.

The university then asked the union to confirm that it is seeking a five-year contract, given that’s how it appears on the overall content of the union’s proposals (the union did not put forth a proposal regarding the term of the new agreement). The union  agreed to get back to the university on this point, but to date has failed to do so.   

The university introduced to the union a draft master agreement with the aim of being prepared to exchange language proposals moving forward. The master agreement represents a full draft contract that consists of each article wherein the union has proposed changes combined with each article wherein the union has not proposed changes, based on the proposals the union confirmed they had and had not provided at the bargaining session. In other words, the master agreement represents the totality of the union’s proposals to the university for a new contract. The master agreement is a standard negotiation practice and helpful framework for the next steps in the negotiation process, unlike the segmented, out of sequence and out of context individual proposals that the union has passed to the University over the course of the prior nine sessions.  Notwithstanding the very helpful framework of a master agreement the union declined  to accept the master document, insinuating that they had no way of knowing whether the master agreement was an accurate composite of all of their proposals  although reading the agreement could have easily confirmed its accuracy.  This was a disappointing response because the union’s acknowledgement would have expedited the university’s comprehensive response on all of the union’s proposals, which the union repeatedly states that it desires. The university’s spokesperson asked the union’s spokesperson to “help us help you,” but the union showed no such interest.  

The university then proposed a new bargaining schedule to increase total time spent at the table and develop some momentum to aid with moving negotiations forward. The university proposed meeting for multiple, successive,  sessions beginning the week of October 10, 2022 and continuing in that fashion every other week. The university also expressed a desire to adjourn the session scheduled for October 6, 2022 in order to accommodate members of both teams who wish to observe Yom Kippur without an impact on either team’s ability to prepare for bargaining. After caucusing, the union responded only indirectly to the university’s proposal, by proposing to bargain on additional days the week of October 3, 2022, on top of the session on October 6, 2022.  That is, the union’s response to the university’s proposal was to a) reject the notion of respecting the observance of Yom Kippur; and b) in addition, seek to bargain on sporadic dates, including a Sunday, during the week of October 3, 2022.  

The union, which took 9 sessions over the course of four months to present its proposals – culminating in the last of its proposals being presented one week ago – insisted that the university conduct bargaining on October 6th.The university politely declined, and as an alternative, proposed increasing the time available for bargaining, proposing three full-day sessions on October 12 – 14 at which it intends to present a comprehensive response to the union’s proposals.  The union agreed to meet on October 12, 13, and 14. The university will continue the work that it has been doing since the inception of negotiations to evaluate the union’s proposals and present a comprehensive response to the union that is sensitive to the parties’ mutual interests, that honors The New School’s values, and that allows The New School to be prudent stewards of all of its resources. The university remains optimistic that in good time the parties will reach agreement on a comprehensive and mutually beneficial agreement just as the parties always have.

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