Wednesday, October 18, 2017

AAUP and AFT Oppose Punitive Protest Policy

(Reposted from National AAUP)

For Immediate Release
October 12, 2017 Contact:
Laura Markwardt
(202) 594-3635

MADISON, WISCONSIN--Last week, the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents approved a policy to suspend and expel students who protest speeches on University of Wisconsin campuses. Sixteen of the board's 18 members are appointees of Republican Governor Scott Walker.

Read the full press release at the national AAUP website here.

Ciccariello-Maher Suspension Is Problematic

AAUP National
October, 12, 2017

The Drexel University administration's unilateral suspension of George Ciccariello-Maher, an associate professor in the Department of Political Science and Global Studies, raises concerns about the academic freedom and is at odds with normative academic procedures.  The AAUP today wrote to Drexel University administrators to express our concern that bysuspending Ciccariello-Maher against his will, they have bowed to pressure from those that are threatening him and reinforced the belief that, as Ciccariello-Maher put it, "you can control a university's curriculum with annonymous threats of violence."  A suspension is a severly adverse personnel action, and imposing one on Ciccariello-Maher without consulting an appropriate faculty body raises concerns for his academic freedom and tenured status.  It is especially concerning that the suspension is indefinite.

Read the full article at the national AAUP website here.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Campus Equity Week Highlights Contingent Faculty Working Conditions

October 10, 2017

Get ready for Campus Equity Week!  During this week, which occurs every other year during the last week of October, groups plan local actions to draw attention to working conditions of faculty in contingent or adjunct positions.  Such faculty, who constitute three fourths of the teaching faculty in higher education, typically work without job security, for low wages, and without access to the professional working conditions that support student learning.

Campus Equity Week (known as Fair Employment Week in some states and in Canada) is supported by a large coalition of faculty activists and organizations of all sizes.  Local actions can be of any size and shape, ranging from those conducted by a handful of people with a minimal budget to chapters with more significant resources.

Read the full article at the national AAUP website here.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Trump Administration Says Colleges Are Suppressing Free Speech. How Should They Respond?

The Chronicle of Higher Education
By Sarah Brown
October 2, 2017

When officials at the University of Utah learned in late August that a student group had invited Ben Shapiro, a fiery conservative commentator, to speak on campus, they had to grapple with an increasingly thorny questions: how to ensure that everyone's free speech rights - both Mr. Shapiro's and those of the student protesters - would be protected.

The university's administration from the public safety, communications, and student affairs units started meeting a month in advance.  They even sent a team to the University of California at Berkeley, so officials could see how that institution handled the controversial speakers who were invited to campus this spring.  When Mr. Shapiro spoke last week, hundreds of students protested, two people were arrested, and several others were briefly detained.  The university spent about $25,000 on security costs.

Read the full article at The Chronicle of Higher Ed's website here.

Supreme Court justices clash over whether workers can join together to fight a company policy

Los Angeles Times
By David G. Savage
October 2, 2017

The Supreme Court justices returned to the bench Monday ready to argue - and disagree sharply along usual ideological lines - on a basic questions of workers' rights in the 21st century.

Can employees join together to argue their company is violating law by denying them overtime pay or minimum wages or by discriminating against women or minorities?

To the court's four liberal justices, this looked like a case of back to the future.  Early in the 20th century, companies often required workers to waive their rights to join a union or take collective action.  Those agreements were referred to as "yellow dog contracts," Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted.  In 1935, under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Congress adopted the National Labor Relations Act, which guaranteed workers a right to join a union and to take "other concerted activities" to protect their interests.  The yellow dog contract became a thing of the past.

Read the full article at the Los Angeles Times website here.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Canada's wake-up call to the US on NAFTA

By Elizabeth Warren
October 1, 2017

(CNN) - President Donald Trump, a loud and persistent critic of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), recently began renegotiating this trade deal with Canada and Mexico.  The President promised to secure a fair deal for American Workers.  That sounds great.  After all, we don't think Americans should be forced to compete with poorly paid workers from Mexico or elsewhere, and we can demand that companies that want to trade with us lift wages, benefits, and health and safety standards for their foreign workers.

So it probably came as a shock that one of Canada's main goals in this renegotiation is to get the United States to treat our own workers better.  Canada doesn't want its workers competing with poorly-treated laborers -- including workers in the United States.  And they have a specific target in mind.

Read the full opinion piece on the CNN website here.

Sens. Warren, Brown, Gillibrand, Rep. Sherman Introduce Legislation to Protect Workers Ahead of Upcoming NAFTA Renegotiations

Senator Elizabeth Warren- Press Release
September 20, 2017

Washington, DC - United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) today introduced the Protecting Workers and Improving Labor Standards Act, to prohibit states from introducing laws that it harder for workers to form unions and fight for higher wages and better working conditions.  The legislation introduced today would repeal section 14(b) of the Taft-Hartley Act, which currently gives states the ability to ban union security agreements - so-called "right-to-work" laws.  The introduction comes days before the third round of renegotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) are set to take place in Ottawa.  An evaluation of state "right-to-work" laws is part of the renegotiation of NAFTA given their impact on worker rights and workplace protections.

Additional Senate cosponsors include Senators Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.).  Congressman Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) today announced that he will introduce companion legislation in the House of Representatives, along with 5 of his colleagues.

Read the full press release at the Senator Elizabeth Warren website here.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Making Diversity Happen

Inside Higher Ed
By Colleen Flaherty
September 28, 2017

It's easy to understand why so many colleges want to increase their share of faulty members who are underrepresented minorities: research suggests that cultural diversity means diversity of thought and experience -- boons to any intellectual enterprise -- and both minority and white students benefit from learning from professors who look like them, and those who don't.

But actually diversifying faculty ranks is hard.  Implicit biases persist in hiring, some academics resist explicit faculty diversity initiatives and data still demonstrate some "pipeline," or supply, issues, especially in the natural sciences.

Read the full article at the Inside Higher Ed website here.

Supreme Court to Hear Anti-Union Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 Case

September 28, 2017

On September 28, the US Supreme Court announced that it will hear a case, called Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, which anti-union forces have pushed in an attempt to have fair-share fees ruled unconstitutional for public sector employees.

Currently, unions can charge fair share fees (also called "agency fees") to non-union members for the cost of the union negotiating and enforcing a collective bargaining agreement covering those individuals.  Fair share fees have been deemed constitutional since the Supreme Court's 1977 decision in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education.  Over the last forty years, the courts have repeatedly found that the fair share fee system adequately balances the interests of the employees and the state in an efficient labor relations system and the First Amendment interests of union members and nonmembers.  However, in a 2014 decision, Harris v. Quinn, Justice Samuel Alito questioned whether Abood was good law and virtually invited challenges to the constitutionality of fair share fees.  In this opinion, Alito claimed that all fair share fee agreements in the public sector could violate the First Amendment as they compel nonmembers to pay for activities that may address matters of public concern and are therefore "political."  Anti-union groups took up Justice Alito's invitation and have pushed a number of cases through the courts.

Read the full article at the AAUP website here.

Emerson College FT, NTT Faculty Vote to Join Existing CB Chapter

September 28, 2017

By a vote of 35-0, full-time, non-tenure track faculty at Emerson College's Boston campus voted to join the existing collective bargaining chapter at Emerson College, ECCAAUP, which represents tenured and tenure-track faculty.  The Emerson College administration has committed to voluntarily recognize a unified collective bargaining chapter if the full-time, non-tenure-track faculty won the election.  The election was held at Emerson College on September 26 and 27.

Following the successful election, the chapter will receive national support to organize a membership drive for tenured, tenure-seeking, and full-time, non-tenure-track faculty.  In addition, the new chapter will receive training to facilitate negotiations to revise the collective bargaining agreement in such a context and give faculty handbook revision advice.  The new ECCAAUP will need to revise its bylaws and constitution to account for its membership base and will consider altering its dues structure.

Read the full article at the AAUP website here.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Court Finds Due Process Denied in Sex Assault Case

Inside Higher Ed
By Jeremy Bauer-Wolf
September 26, 2017

A federal appeals court has agreed to block the University of Cincinnati's suspension of a student, saying the institution violated his rights bu not allowing him to question the female student who accused him of sexually assaulting her. 

The decision bu the U.S. Court of Appeals fir the Sixth Circuit follows the announcement Friday from Education Secretary Betsy DeVos that she would pull guidance on Title IX investigations and adjudication the Obama administration released in 2011. 

Read the full article on the Inside Higher Ed website here.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Education Dept. Replaces Obama-Era Title IX Directives With New Interim Guidance

The Chronicle of Higher Education
By Fenanda Zamudio-Suarez
September 22, 2017

The U.S. Department of Education has rescinded two pieces of Obama-era guidance that told colleges how they should handle issues related to campus sexual assault, and has replaced them with new interim guidance, the department announced on Friday.

In a speech this month, the education secretary, Betsy DeVos, announced that the department would begin a process for replacing the Obama-era guidance.  The department's action on Friday withdrew two key documents: a 2011 "Dear Colleague" letter, which kicked off a new era of enforcement under the gender-equity law known as Title IX, and a 2014 questions-and-answers document, which offered colleges additional guidance on how they should respond to reported sexual violence.

Read the full article at The Chronicle of Higher Education website here.

310,567 Signatures Block 'Right to Work' in Missouri

Labor Notes
By Judy Ancel
September 18, 2017

The results astounded everyone who thought they knew the Missouri labor movement: more than 300,000 signatures to repeal "right to work."

Thousands of union members and allies marched through the streets of the state capital August 18 to deliver 163 boxes of petitions signed by 310,567 Missourians.  The signers called for referendum to repeal the right-to-work law passed by the legislature earlier this year.

Read the full article at the Labor Notes website here.

Legal Brief Against Trump's Travel Ban

September 22, 2017

Yesterday the AAUP joined with the American Council on Education and other higher education groups in an amicus brief to the US Supreme Court opposing Trump's travel ban.  The brief argues that people from the six countries identified in the ban should not be barred or deterred from entering the United States and contributing to our colleges and universities.

As the brief notes, the ban has caused specific harm to higher education.  From the moment the executive order containing the ban was signed, recruits were deterred from accepting faculty position in the United States.  Some scholars have pulled out of academic conferences here, either because they were directly affected by the ban or because they were concerned about its impact.  In the brief, we emphasize the international exchange of scholarly work, and explain how the ban "jeopardizes the vital contributions made by foreign students, scholars, and faculty by telling the world in the starkest terms that American colleges and universities are no longer receptive to them."

Read the full article at the AAUP website here.

Win for Climate Science and the AAUP

September 15, 2017

Today the Arizona Court of Appeals rejected attempts to by a "free market" legal foundation to use public records requests to compel faculty members to release emails related to their climate research.

In an amicus brief in support of the scientists, the AAUP had urged that Arizona statute creates an exemption to public release of records for academic research records, and that a general statutory exemption protecting records when in the best interests of the state, in particular the state's interest in academic freedom, should have been considered.  The appeals court agreed.

Read the full article at the AAUP website here.