Thursday, December 20, 2007

Written Testimony on SB353

Dear Senator Vinehout and State Senate Committee on Agriculture and Higher Education members,

My name is Dennis Shaw from Menomonie and I am employed in the Student Life Services Office at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University. I also have the honor of serving as the elected Chair of our Senate of Academic Staff, one of three governance groups on campus along with the Faculty Senate and Stout Student Association.

In addition, and for the record, I am also the Vice President of the Board of Directors for ASPRO, the Academic Staff Professionals Representation Organization, which has 700 academic staff employee members statewide. Academic staff professionals are the partners of the faculty inside and outside of the classroom. Academic Staff employees are lecturers, librarians, advisors, researchers, counselors, financial aid professionals, information technology staff, and housing managers just to name a few of the roles we fill.

I understand that on Monday you held a public hearing on Senate Bill 353, “relating to collective bargaining process for University of Wisconsin System faculty and academic staff and making appropriations.” My duties at UW-Stout did not afford me the opportunity to testify in person, so I appreciate that you have agreed to take written comments during this week.

While our campus senate is out of session until the second semester, I am sure our body will be strongly opposed to the language in Senate Bill 353, so I am comfortable relaying a letter in opposition. I have attached a resolution from the UW-Stout Senate of Academic Staff that was passed unanimously in September opposing similar enabling language in the State Senate version of the state budget bill. Our concerns with the language in the budget bill have not been addressed with SB353.

The primary reason both our campus senate and the statewide ASPRO organization opposes this language is that it specifically mandates that the faculty and the academic staff collective bargaining units on each campus would start off being separate. As stated in our September resolution, “while the language in the senate bill does provide an option to combine units, however in reality there would be little incentive for faculty or large campus bargaining units to vote to support combining with them, setting up a system where campuses, faculty and staff would each be competing against each other for limited state dollars.”

This pitting of faculty against academic staff and campus against campus for limited resources is unhealthy both for the University of Wisconsin System and the state. I grew up in a good union home with my father serving as a Committeeman for Local 95 of the UAW in Janesville. I understand that the purpose of collective bargaining and that the larger the representation the more bargaining power a union has. For the life of me I cannot understand why the legislative authors would want to start with 25 to 30 separate weak bargaining units instead of having one large combined faculty & academic staff union.

As you can see in the BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED section of our September 2007 resolution, while the UW-Stout Senate of Academic Staff would not necessarily “be opposed to the right to choose to collectively bargain, we will continue to oppose any bill including collective bargaining bills that would separate faculty and academic staff pay and benefit plans and thereby treat the 11,000 academic staff in the UW System unfairly and inequitably.”

I therefore, speaking for the UW-Stout Senate of Academic Staff, encourage the committee to either amend the language that would require separate bargaining units or vote against Senate Bill 353 when the vote is called.

Thanks once again for the opportunity to provide comments!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Chair's Report for Dec 11 meeting

Greetings. Well it's been another busy month! And some of the news I have to report is not good. If you've been following my blog you have already read about the Faculty Senate voting to stop the Combined Senates meetings. This is unfortunate! We will soon announce our meeting schedule for next semester.

I also wrote about ASPRO calling our attention to the possibility that the Governor may ask for an additional raise but not for professional category academic staff. Our senate has long been on the record of opposing any proposal that separate faculty and all academic staff pay plans. The Chancellor has given me information that President Reilly is asking for the raises for all academic staff. Our voices may have to be heard. If I get any additional information I will be sure to share it.

You may also have heard that the Special Regents Committee addressing the LAB Audit, which I had the honor of serving on representing academic staff from across the state finished its work. It was one of the primary issues on the agenda for the Nov 15 joint meeting between the Academic Staff reps and the Faculty reps. The following day, Nov 16, I was in Madison for the final meeting of the committee. While I did vote against one of the 3 recommendations, I am satisfied that the recommendations adequately addressed the issues identified by the LAB Audit, and the most important thing is that the System adopt policy and procedures so that we do not loose the sick leave conversion benefits. Last Friday, Dec 7, the Regents approved the recommendations.

Some of the meetings I participated in representing the Senate of Academic Staff this month included:

On November 5, the Chancellor's Advisor Council (CAC) met. At that meeting Meridith Wentz facilitated a discussion of the seven core strategies of UW System’s Strategic Framework to Advantage Wisconsin. Think Tank Teams (with representation from all campuses) have been formed and are currently holding discussion meetings as part of the strategic framework development for the UW System. In addition, discussions at the campus level are encouraged to further share in this planning effort. A summary of the discussion and ideas presented will be shared with President Reilly.

Next the 2007 Cancellation Survey Report was reviewed and discussed. Cindy Gilberts reported that this is the third year the survey has been done, and is used for students who are admitted but decide not to enroll. This was the first year that the survey was conducted by email only.

The meeting concluded with recognition of those involved with StoutQuest. The researchers included in the new StoutQuest publication were recognized and congratulated.

On November 12, the UW-Stout Retention Steering Group, a team of 10 members from campus including myself attended an OPID Workshop in Madison on the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) presented by Jillian Kinzie. It was worthwhile and got us thinking about how student engagement affects retention.

On November 14, 2007 the Administrative Leadership Team met with Dr. Robert Zemsky to challenge our thinking on issues facing higher education today. His recent work as a commission member on Secretary Spellings Commission on the Future of Higher Education resulted in an article on a 3-year degree completion idea. The discussion was very fascinating and challenged us to think outside of the box.

As I mentioned above on November 15, 2007 the Academic Staff Representatives Council (ACRS) participated in a Joint Meeting with the Faculty Representatives. The joint meeting began with a discussion of the draft Shared Governance Principles and Guidelines. Regent Michael Spector, who chaired the Shared Governance Working Group, began the discussion by summarizing the process that led to the development of the draft Shared Governance Principles and Guidelines. He noted that the Shared Governance Working Group did not attempt to interpret Chapter 36, but rather worked to develop an inclusive process for better decision-making. The basic premise of the draft Shared Governance Guidelines is to have governance groups involved in the development of Regent and UW System policies early in the process. This means getting nominations from governance groups for systemwide policy committees and then having review of these policies by campus governance groups.

Senior Vice President Rebecca Martin next handed out a list of systemwide committees for the faculty and academic staff reps to review and discuss at a future meeting for application of the new guidelines.

Regent Tom Loftus and Associate Vice President Al Crist joined the meeting next to discuss Leave Reporting and the Response to the LAB Audit. Regent Loftus began the discussion by noting that the guiding principle in the discussions by the Special Regent Committee on Regent Response to the Legislative Audit Bureau Audit on UW System Personnel Policies and Practices was that if a person is sick, they should stay home and take a sick day. They should also report sick leave even if they get colleague coverage.

Al Crist also gave a brief update on Pay Plan and noted that the Joint Committee on Employee Relations (JCOER) will not meet until mid-December and therefore, pay plan will not take effect until after January 1.

Lastly, Associate Vice President Freda Harris summarized the 2007-09 biennial budget. Freda noted that this was a much better budget than previous biennia for the UW System with the funding received for Costs to Continue and the Growth Agenda. The budget does include a $25 million lapse for the UW System over the biennium.

On Nov 19, CAC again met. The meeting started with Commications Director Doug Mell introducing Greg Leaf, Don Steffen, Art Juchno and Ed Jakober who developed the recruitment TV ads. Greg Leaf described the objective, strategy and timeline for the advertising campaign, and followed with a review of the ads.

Next George Acker reviewed the major project lists for 2009-2015 and 2015-2021, as well as the proposed 2009-2015 all agency project request list.

Finally, we talked about how to address issues from the Listening Sessions. We started with the proposed items that the university could take care of now. The Chancellor will meet with several administrators to discuss the items that might be combined, and then prioritize and identify next steps.

On Nov 20, the Administrative Leadership Team had the opportunity to meet with Cabot Executive in Residence Brian Colianni who is the Executive Director of Ford Motor Company, Asia Pacific & Africa Region. Again a good opportunity to think about how things work in the corporate world and look for applications at our institution.

On Dec 3, CAC met once again. Meridith Wentz started us off by facilitating a review of the resolution proposals for the long-term issues identified at the listening sessions. Following the review and discussion, Meridith will provide a summary, including resource implications, for the Chancellor. Meridith then reviewed the priorities and action steps that have been taken for each. The performance indicators were also reviewed and discussed.

On Dec 6 & 7, I attended the Board of Regents meetings with Chancellor Sorensen and Provost Furst-Bowe. As I mentioned they did approve the LAB proposals. Regent Loftus was very gracious in publicly thanking me and the Faculty rep Chris Sadler for our participation. The Regents also approved the funding Stout was seeking for planning for the Jarvis renovation and addition!

Other meetings I participated in during the month included:

  • 11/6: LLC renaming dedication for former Chancellor Swanson
  • 11/6: Monthly meeting with Provost Furst-Bowe
  • 11/9: Vice Chair Jerry Addie represented us at a meeting with the SSA President and Faculty Senate Chair. He also the Access to Learning Committee meeting for me. Thanks Jerry!
  • 11/13: Attended reception for retirees
  • 11/19: Monthly meeting with Chancellor Sorensen
  • 11/26: Retention Steering Group
  • 11/30: Polytechnic Steering Committee – approved the Polytechnic tenants
  • 11/30: Monthly meeting with SSA President and Faculty Senate Chair
  • 12/4: Monthly meeting with Provost Furst-Bowe

Well that's my report for this month.