April 6, 2023
Limited Progress at the table
- We met with the administration on Tuesday.
- We are seeing encouraging movement towards key improvements for library faculty, resolving some egregious disparities in their treatment as colleagues.
- However, the administration failed to follow through on promises that they would bring us counterproposals on academic freedom and shared governance.
- The other counterproposals they did give us were very thin, despite repeated verbal assurances that we had common ground on key issues.
We met with the administration on Tuesday in person. Everything has been in their court, so we were anticipating a number of counterproposals from them.
First, the good news: the administration seems to be in agreement with us to incorporate library faculty appointments, renewals, and promotion into their policies for all non-tenure stream faculty, ending a history of disparate treatment. Librarians at Pitt have always been ineligible for tenure, and were subject to an “up-or-out” mandatory promotion process (without associated pay or security increases). Now the administration seems to have conceded our point that, like all other faculty, library faculty who are doing their jobs well should be able to expect continued employment, and have options for promotion to align with their professional development and career trajectory.
However, we would like to see similar progress for the other parts of our negotiations. We had been led to believe that they would have counters for us on academic freedom (where we should be close, with “intramural speech” the main remaining issue) and shared governance (which is key to allowing local units to develop their own policies as part of our contract). The administration has not lived up to these promises. We still have also not received anything from them on tenure or layoffs—both of which are mandatory subjects under the law, and on which we made our own proposals last July. Nor have we received counterproposals on any of our economic proposals.
We were happy to see the inclusion of librarians in the full-time non-tenure stream appointment counter proposal, but the administration did not address the loophole in their proposed language that would make it impossible to enforce in practice. This is concerning because we have now had many hours of discussion at the bargaining table over several different bargaining sessions in which we asked the administration to explain their position on the enforceability of these protections, they verbally agreed to our core concerns, but have repeatedly declined to incorporate those verbal commitments into their written counterproposals. Improvements to job security are a key priority for our first contract and we are going to continue to push to ensure that these job protections are strong and meaningful.
We also received a counterproposal on the Falk School that only added a single, unenforceable sentence.
After a caucus we presented counters to both of these proposals that incorporated several parts of the administration’s position that are workable but held firm on our core priorities. We also explained those priorities and pushed the administration to put in writing their position about the enforceability of renewal protections that they had articulated repeatedly at the table.
In the afternoon the administration presented us with a counterproposal on Discipline and Discharge, on which we reported last month that we were close to an agreement. Their counterproposal on Tuesday included changes to only two sentences. The main issue we are apart on is that our proposal includes language establishing our right to access our own personnel files (including disciplinary files). Their proposal did not address this concern, although they were unable to articulate a basis for any objection. As we’ve said, this article is a key part of the contract, and while we are close on most of the language it is concerning that the administration is declining opportunities to find common ground and lock in agreements on these core articles.
We next meet with the administration on April 17 and 18.
We voted to form a union because we want the protections and improvements that a transparent, legally-binding contract will bring us. We made some progress for our librarian colleagues this week on these matters, but the reality is that this pace of bargaining is unacceptable. The administration needs to see that we are united in our support for a strong, enforceable contract. Reach out to a Communication and Action Team member or complete this form to request a conversation about union membership today!
Your bargaining committee
Tyler Bickford (chair), Professor, English, Oakland
Nicholas Bircher, Part-time Professor, Nurse Anesthesia, Oakland
Lauren Collister, Faculty Librarian, ULS, Oakland
Anthony Fabio, Associate Professor, Epidemiology (Public Health), Oakland
Lech Harris (secretary), Part-time Instructor, English, Oakland
James Hill (archivist), Visiting Assistant Professor, History, Oakland
Haitao Liu, Professor, Chemistry, Oakland
Stephen Robar, Associate Professor, Political Science, Bradford
Sabrina Robinson, Part-time Instructor, Slavic, Oakland
Valerie Rossi (clerk), Teacher, Falk Laboratory School, Oakland
Evan Schneider, Assistant Professor, Physics and Astronomy, Oakland
Paul Scott, Assistant Professor, Health and Community Systems (Nursing), Oakland
Jeffrey Shook, Professor, Social Work, Oakland
Stacey Triplette, Associate Professor, Spanish, Greensburg
Abagael West, Teaching Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences, Oakland