March 18, 2020
First, we want to assure you that the leadership of UConn-AAUP has been communicating with the Provost Office about the importance of faculty involvement in academic decisions at this time of crisis. Our communications have resulted in more faculty being included on the three committees created by the Office Emergency Management.
Secondly, we have filed a “demand to bargaining any impacts” to the terms and conditions of employment we negotiated in the collective bargaining agreement. We did not mean this as a threat during a time of crisis, but rather as a reminder that administration must work with the faculty and their representative, UConn-AAUP, in navigating this crisis. In particular, there must be an understanding that emergency measures for continuity of instruction are just that — emergency measures, not a new baseline — and that faculty members expect to return to their preferred modes of instruction when the crisis subsides.
Third, we wish to urge deans and department heads to be understanding of the numerous challenges their instructors face in transitioning so rapidly to online methods of instruction. Adjunct faculty members, most of whom have other jobs, cannot be expected to make the transition as easily as full-time faculty members, for instance. Let us also be mindful of the fact that with daycare providers and primary and secondary schools closed, faculty members with children will face additional challenges when it comes to scheduling meetings. And we may all soon be caring for loved-ones who have been infected. Understanding, flexibility, and health-conscious decision-making should be the order of the day, not rigid adherence to administrative diktat.
At the same time, we urge all UConn faculty members to do their level best to bring this semester to a successful completion. Our students and the university alike are counting on us more now than ever. Let us be mindful of the challenges our students will face in completing their courses and of their understandable concerns.
Speaking of concerns, UConn-AAUP would like to hear from you about your concerns related to this crisis,so that they can be addressed expeditiously. We will operate an email “hotline” to triage and categorize any and all of your reports. Please email Michael Bailey (firstname.lastname@example.org) and include the word “hotline” in the subject to flag us to urgent concerns.
Lastly, for up-to-date information, please listen to the Virtual Town Hall on the Corona virus today, Wednesday, March 18, 2020 at 11:00 am.
Best wishes for good health,
Michael Bailey and Tom Bontly
March 12, 2020
Once again, it seems we are “blessed” to live in interesting times. As you know, the University will move to online instruction when classes resume after spring break until at least April 6, and possibly well beyond. Though UConn’s campuses will apparently remain open (for the time being, anyway), operations will be severely restricted.
Your union, UConn-AAUP, has been and will continue working with the Provost’s office, Human Resources, and other administrative offices on campus to make sure that faculty members are safe, respected, and involved in decision-making throughout this extended crisis. UConn-AAUP is also coordinating with other state employee unions to work with the State government on issues pertaining to collective bargaining, job security, workplace safety, and so on.
While the move to online instruction is unavoidable, we will continue to remind the administration that this involves considerable additional work for which most of our instructors have no significant training. In particular, the preparation of online course materials must be viewed as service to the university, not as a permanent change in workload or assignment. Earlier this week, we proposed that classes be cancelled for two days following spring break to give instructors time to transition courses online. We have also raised concerns about how SETs, merit, annual reports, commencement, open house, and other activities will be handled. When there is new information, we will update you on these and other issues.
The chapter’s elected leaders and staff have also been taking steps to ensure the continuity of UConn-AAUP’s operations during the pandemic. As chapter president, furthermore, I am greatly concerned for the safety of our staff, who everyday interact with faculty members, administrators, legislators, and community members all over the state. While the UConn-AAUP office will continue to function, I have decided to close the office to all outside visitors until further notice. I have also instructed our staff to work from home, by phone or videoconference, as much as possible.
Meanwhile, life goes on. To whatever extent possible, UConn-AAUP will continue to operate as usual – representing members of the bargaining unit, providing informal consultation and support, enforcing the contract, lobbying the legislature, and preparing for negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement. When the dust clears a bit, we will publish our usual newsletter with updates on these and other items.
Finally, let me take this opportunity to thank our incredible staff – Barbara, David, Deb, and Michael – for their dedication and hard work through good times and bad.
Best wishes to all for good health, good luck, and a happy spring break.