By Nicolas Russell, UWM AAUP
In November 2017, UWM’s College of Letters and Science announced that its fixed-term Academic Staff would be excluded from the UW Pay Plan and would receive no salary increases. This decision struck many in the College of Letters and Science as completely unjustified given the pay plan guidelines and more broadly given the vital contributions of UWM’s fixed-term Academic Staff to the University’s mission.
UWM’s AAUP Chapter, in collaboration with faculty and staff from other UWM governance groups, argued that, in excluding Academic Staff from the UW Pay Plan, the College of Letters and Science was not adhering to the pay plan guidelines, as specified in the pay plan memo sent to UWM’s Chancellor, Vice Chancellors, and Academic Deans by Provost Johannes Britz (8 November 2017). The Provost’s guidelines specified that “non-budgeted positions for 50% FTE or more [were] eligible for a pay plan increase.” The only case in which they could be excluded was if the school or college had an established and published pay schedule (referenced in appointment letters) that states that non-budgeted employees are not eligible for pay plan increases. The College of Letters and Science has no such pay schedule for non-budgeted positions.
UWM’s AAUP Chapter argued, moreover, that UW-Milwaukee has been increasingly relying on fixed-term Academic Staff to fulfill its mission. The Academic Staff Committee (Academic Staff Document 103 – Sept. 2016, p. 3) found that 80% of Instructional Academic Staff are on fixed-term contracts, including many long-term employees who have been repeatedly rehired to meet ongoing instructional needs at the University. These employment practices are not generally consistent with UWM and UW-System policy: many of these Instructional Academic Staff members should already have received probationary or indefinite status. As tenure lines and positions with “indefinite status” have disappeared, fixed-term instructional academic staff have become a de facto part of UWM’s core faculty and essential to fulfilling its mission, but the university treats these positions as provisional. Excluding fixed-term Academic Staff from the current pay plan would have constituted a failure to recognize the essential work that they do in the College.
In December 2017, we were happy to hear about the supportive response from the College of Letters and Science. The College acknowledged that excluding fixed-term Academic Staff from the current pay plan was a mistake, and it changed its policy to include them.
The victory for equity in this case resulted directly from engaged collaboration between tenured/tenure track faculty and instructional academic staff. This kind of collaboration makes us stronger in defending our collective interests.
We invite all faculty, staff and graduate students to join us at our coming organizing workshop: February 9, 9-12, Curtin 175. We are stronger together!