United Academics Statement on Workload

In recent days a rumor has been making the rounds on campus that United Academics approves of the proposal that every unit in the College of Arts and Sciences should establish a nine-course workload, with an additional service requirement, for non-tenure-track faculty. One version of the rumor holds that United Academics has insisted on this policy as a requirement of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

This is not true. United Academics neither approves of nor requires any such thing. On the contrary, at an early stage of preparations for initial contract negotiations, union leaders reached a fundamental decision, that United Academics should not and would not dictate rigid, standard workload policies for all units, whether in CAS or in other colleges and programs within the university. For wholly legitimate reasons, the number of courses taught by non-tenure-track as well as tenure-track faculty varies greatly from one unit to another; within reasonable parameters, we agreed, workloads for all faculty should reflect the particular needs and requirements of each discipline. Rather, we insisted that each unit should develop clear and consistent workload policies that reflect those needs and requirements.

In the bargaining process, the administration agreed with our position that departments and units should establish standard workload policies internally. The administration and the union agreed that departments and units should retain control over many policies, including workload. We also agreed that faculty in each unit should develop these policies using input from their deans, in the form of general guidelines.

Over the past year, a team of union leaders has been working with the administration to help deans develop their guidelines. Through the course of that work, United Academics has reviewed draft policies that the CAS deans had developed and worked with them to identify areas of potential conflict with the Collective Bargaining Agreement. In the course of these transactions, United Academics emphasized that deans must ensure that workload policies be developed with faculty input, and that the deans’ guidelines are meant only as a starting point for the faculty discussions.

At no point in these discussions did United Academics dictate, let alone approve of, any proposal to impose a standard, college-wide, nine-course load for non-tenure-track faculty. In fact, we were clear with the administration that we thought that this was a new policy in CAS and that CAS was attempting unilaterally to increase the workload for non-tenure-track faculty without a corresponding increase in compensation.

Recently, department and unit heads received notification that they need to begin crafting workload policies for their unit. This will be a major project for our campus and is part of our ongoing efforts to develop and document policies on our campus. While it is true that college deans have the right to modify faculty-developed policies, they may only do this after the departments and units have developed policies internally. If they modify faculty-developed policies, deans are also obligated to meet with faculty to explain their decisions. When the input from deans is in conflict with local or discipline specific practices, we strongly encourage all faculty to substitute the deans’ draft language with whatever workload assignments make sense for your unit and discipline.

Posted in Contract Implementation, Updates.