Dear Faculty Association Members,
The Faculty Association is pleased to announce a significant resolution on a challenging grievance matter regarding academic career years.
ULFA has had grievances over academic career years on behalf of several individuals who argued that their academic career years were miscalculated. ULFA agreed with the individuals’ calculations of academic career years and sought to correct these calculations through grievance.
ULFA also filed a policy grievance to ensure that anyone else who was affected would also have their academic career years corrected.
What is this grievance about?
The crux of this problem is really about money in the form of future lost career earnings. In the summer of 2016, the University took action to assign additional academic career years to some faculty members based on their previous employment experience (such as having a term appointment at the U of L prior to the start of the probationary appointment or having employment from a previous institution counted toward an academic career at this University).
This action was not permitted under the Faculty Handbook and ULFA filed a policy grievance and several individual grievances on the grounds that it violated member’s rights. Our position was that academic career years are something that can only be established in the initial letter of appointment and that the University cannot unilaterally change the terms and conditions of employment for Members.
What does this have to do with salary?
The addition of academic career years to one’s employment has a very real monetary consequence for faculty members and professional librarians who have a maximum number of academic career years available to them, after which their career progress increments cease. In short, having a higher number of academic career years on record means receiving fewer career progress increments at the end of one’s career.
What are Academic Career Years?
The Faculty Handbook establishes that Assistant Professors and Professional Librarians II have 10 academic career years available to them, Associate Professors and Professional Librarians Grade III have an additional 15 academic career years (for a cumulative total of 25 years), and full Professors and Professional Librarians IV have an additional 10 academic career years (for a cumulative total of 35 years). Once a faculty member reaches the maximum academic career years for their rank, they cease receiving career progress increments. They do, however, continue to receive cost of living adjustments and merit.
Thankfully, there is a transition period in effect until July 1, 2019 that ensures the cap will not be implemented for anyone in order to allow for members to prepare for the eventual cessation of career progress increments (whether by applying for promotion or preparing financially for curbed salary growth).
This grievance case was expected to be heard at arbitration in early March and ULFA began preparing for that hearing with legal counsel and witnesses.
ULFA and the Board of Governors have instead achieved full resolution of this grievance that sees our members made whole again.
ULFA and the Board have agreed that the employer cannot unilaterally change letters of appointment. All calculations of academic career years will be corrected for the individual grievors as well as for all other faculty members or professional librarians who may have been affected. From our understanding, there are a few dozen individuals affected who will now have corrected academic career years as a result of this resolution. We have made contact with those individuals to let them know they will be receiving revised academic career year letters from their Deans. If you believe you have been affected but have not heard from ULFA or your Dean, please contact us and we will work on resolving any outstanding issues.
ULFA and the Board have resolved this dispute without having to rely on grievance arbitration. The parties will split the costs of canceling the arbitrator–a small price to pay for achieving the resolution we have now. We also have a new memorandum of understanding to add to the Handbook.
We wish to thank the individuals who came forward with grievances and who helped bring such a complete resolution to this issue for all affected members. Your resolve has been integral to this resolution and commendation for achieving resolution for yourselves and for the membership as a whole.
If you have any questions about this, or if you think you were affected and wish to know more, don’t hesitate to contact the Faculty Association. President Andrea Amelinckx (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Grievance Chair Bryson Brown (email@example.com) have been instrumental in achieving this resolution and will be able to answer any questions.