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Students To Hold ‘UNH Solidarity Rally for Lecturers’ After University Lays off 18 Lecturers

In a very quiet announcement, the administrators at the University of New Hampshire sent a letter to 18 lecturers informing them that their contracts would not be renewed for next year.

On January 19th, the Union Leader reported on the story.

“The contracts of 18 lecturers in the College of Liberal Arts at the University of New Hampshire were not renewed, and one affected man says he’s heartbroken after receiving the news in the mail over winter break.

English lecturer Nathan Webster, of Stratham, a veteran who served during Operation Desert Storm and then worked as a photojournalist in Iraq, teaches first-year writing and introduction to creative nonfiction, he said.
“I’m the only war veteran in the English Department, and the letter I got (just a letter, no call, no personal contact at all) was dismissive and blunt and the reasons given are contradictory and unclear,” Webster said via email Friday.
“The letter claimed a severe budget shortfall but a new announcement said it was to enhance program strength by ensuring the highest degree in the field,” he wrote.
A copy of the letter Webster received this week from Dean Heidi Bostic said his employment ends May 18.

“The reason for this non-renewal is that the College of Liberal Arts is currently confronted with a substantial deficit,” Bostic wrote. “With future programmatic needs forecast in mind, we have been forced to make some painful reductions and strategic realignments in teaching faculty.””

Within a week of the non-renewals being sent out, the UNH Lectures Branch of the American Association on University Professors (AAUP) sent a letter to Dean Bostic requesting details on why the lecturers were not renewed.

Dear Dean Bostic,

The recently announced cuts of Lecturer faculty were dramatic and unanticipated.  Many of us across the University have questions about this decision, and we write to you now to ask you to provide more information to the community about these cuts.

In particular, we request the Deans’ office address:

  • The College financial situation.  We call on you to provide specific details about the COLA finances.  Detailed financial reports for the college would allow for the transparency needed to understand the context of recent cuts to the teaching faculty.
  • An articulated plan for how the more than 100 sections of courses taught by the non-renewed faculty members will be covered.  We request you address the following questions: Will COLA be reducing the number of classes?  Will upper-level classes be eliminated? Will faculty teaching those upper-level classes be moved into lower-level courses?  Is the intention to renegotiate faculty workloads or to hire more faculty?  Cuts to teaching faculty compromise programs, as well as students’ experiences and opportunities; therefore, your plan here is a matter of concern for all community stakeholders.
  • The otherwise unannounced and unexplained new requirement for Lecturer Faculty to possess the terminal degree of a PhD. Your January 19 email stated that the affected faculty “were not renewed as the result of a desire to enhance program strength by ensuring that faculty members have the highest terminal degree in their field.”  We request explanation for why this criterion is cited now, when it has never been a factor of the hiring, review or renewal of these faculty. As you are aware, many of these faculty members were repeatedly reappointed on the basis of their teaching experience and performance in the classroom. In addition, these lecturers have been reviewed by your office as meeting or exceeding your expectations annually. Further, seven of the affected faculty had been promoted to the ranks of Senior or Principal Lecturer, and their degrees did not play a role in these promotion decisions.  How does your own recent assessment and promotion of these teachers connect with the notion that they are suddenly unqualified? We request explanation for the logic and soundness of this new criterion.
    These are among the many questions raised by the recent cuts of Lecturer Faculty.  We call on you to provide answers.


UNHLU-AAUP Executive Committee

Now the students are rallying behind the educators.  

The student groups, Humans of UNH and UNH Young Democratic Socialists of America, are teaming up to hold a rally on Friday Feb 16th,  in support of reinstating these educators.

The University of New Hampshire has just made significant cuts to lecturer positions in several departments in the College of Liberal Arts. Cuts to lecturer positions will directly affect the quality of education at the University as well as the course options available to students. Students at UNH should expect to have access to a wide-range of courses that will prepare them to succeed in an increasingly global economy.

Long-serving and committed lecturers in French, Spanish, Arabic, ESL, English, History, and Political Science have been informed that their contracts will not be renewed.

Stand in solidarity with affected lecturers and UNH employees. Come and listen to the testimonies of students and alumni directly affected by the recent lecturer cuts.

Join them if you can.

UNH Solidarity Rally for Lecturers

Friday, 16 February 2018 11:00 am

@ Murkland Hall

Creator: Humans of UNH

Educators File Amicus Brief With Supreme Court In Janus v. AFSCME

WASHINGTON — The National Education Association and the American Association of University Professors submitted an amicus brief today with the Supreme Court in the case of Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31. The National Right to Work Committee, which is behind the case, is asking the Court to read into the First Amendment a right to work law for the entire public sector.  As the brief explains, the First Amendment has never been so interpreted and doing so would conflict with the Court’s long established deference to state decisions about their public workforces.  At issue in Janus is whether non-union members who share in the wages, benefits and protections that have been negotiated into a collectively bargained contract may be required to pay their fair share for the cost of those negotiations.

“Strong unions help to create strong schools for students and even stronger communities that benefit all of us,” said Lily Eskelsen García, a sixth grade teacher from Salt Lake City, Utah who was elected to serve as the president of the National Education Association. “For generations, unions have been the best path to the middle class for working people, but in this rigged economy, unions are under attack, and those attacks are coming not just from the White House and Capitol Hill. They’re happening at the ballot box and at the Supreme Court with cases like Janus v. AFSCME.”

A comprehensive report issued last year by the Economic Policy Institute detailed how collective bargaining plays an essential role in the labor market, by raising working people’s wages and supporting a fair and prosperous economy as well as a vibrant democracy. Unions and their ability to bargain collectively are an important force in reducing inequality and ensuring that low- and middle-wage workers receive a fair return on their work. Another recent report titled, “Strong Unions, Stronger Communities,” reviewed numerous case studies where members of labor unions have used their freedom to join strong unions and collective voice to fight for improvements that benefit all working families in communities throughout America.

“The Supreme Court should not ignore the fact that state and local governments have a vital interest in the benefits of collaboration that come from robust collective bargaining and unionization. Those benefits for all public citizens include improved government services, better educational outcomes and higher economic mobility,” said AAUP General Counsel Risa Lieberwitz. “The court also should not ignore the fact that outside dark-money groups, which include many of the groups who filed briefs in support of Janus, want to manipulate and weaponize the court’s decision to attack unions and deprive state and local governments of broad societal benefits that accompany collective bargaining.”

The Janus case presents a real test for the Supreme Court. If facts, merit and law are considered, then the justices must rule in favor of upholding 40 years of precedent that support the authority of state and local governments to choose to have strong public sector systems of collective bargaining.

“The politically-motivated backers behind Janus know this case is nothing more than a smokescreen for what they’re really trying to do,” added Eskelsen García. “Point blank, this case is an assault on the freedoms of working people to earn a better life for themselves and their families while it works to right the rules further in favor of their own special corporate interests and other billionaires. The justices on the Supreme Court cannot allow themselves to be fooled.”

About the National Education Association

The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

About the American Association of University Professors

The American Association of University Professors is a nonprofit membership association of faculty and other academic professionals with members and chapters based at colleges and universities across the country. The mission is to advance academic freedom and shared governance; to define fundamental professional values and standards for higher education; to promote the economic security of faculty, academic professionals, graduate students, post‐doctoral fellows, and all those engaged in teaching and research in higher education; to help the higher education community organize to make our goals a reality; and to ensure higher education’s contribution to the common good.

American Association of University Professors Kick Off ‘Campus Equity Week’

Campus Equity Week highlights the disparity between full-time, tenured professors and part-time and non-tenure-track faculty

Today kicks off Campus Equity Week, when faculty, students, and communities on campuses across the country shine a light on the increasingly precarious nature of academic work and the effects of precarity on our higher education system. Contingent appointments now account for over 70 percent of all instructional staff appointments in American higher education. The term “contingent faculty” encompasses part- and full-time non-tenure-track faculty, including graduate employees. The growth in faculty contingency comes alongside the corporatization of higher education and its negative implications for students and higher education.

  •         A large number of faculty in so-called “part-time” positions actually teach the equivalent of a full-time course load, often commuting between institutions and preparing courses on a grueling timetable, making enormous sacrifices to maintain interaction with their students.
  •         Since faculty classified as part-time are typically paid by the course, without benefits, access for many college teachers to affordable healthcare and retirement security is withheld.
  •         Academic freedom is in serious jeopardy when a majority of faculty lack basic due process protections.

All faculty should have access to the protections of academic freedom and tenure, a fair return on their work, due process protections, and inclusion in institutional governance. Throughout this Halloween week, faculty, students and local communities from Connecticut to Colorado, will continue to call attention to the truly frightening implications of precarity and disinvestment in higher education and will inspire change through actions, brown bag discussions, art installations, and other methods.

Caprice Lawless, AAUP second vice president and instructor at Front Range Community College, said, “In these times, especially, we need to stay connected, to share facts and to validate our experiences. Academic labor activists make good use of social media, year-round. We can do that in between the mountains of grading, and it helps keep us sane. Campus Equity Week allows us to get dressed up, to be with colleagues face-to-face, and to make some noise. We are wired to feel the camaraderie and solidarity that comes from creating and attending these events.

“CEW has become our Olympics. This week, we will see examples of everywhere of all the energy we’ve collected in two years of connections, discussions, and frustrations. Here in Colorado, for example, we will be un-celebrating how, in its latest promotion, Colorado’s Community College System administrators boast that our low-wage work is valued at more than $6 billion. Our 13-college system has spent nearly $400 million of building projects, has more than 48 vice presidents, scores of deans and directors, has raised tuition 149% since 1996, and transformed our once-friendly campuses into corporate-sponsored, cold and uninviting enterprise zones. There is a growing questioning of such designs here and elsewhere.

“Academic workers will continue to organize until we see significant change. It is reassuring to know we are not alone, that our movement is growing, and that this week we will get to meet friends old and new at Campus Equity Week events.”

Faculty and students can find #2017CEW resources here.

A Dartmouth Professor Gets Unfairly Chastised By College For Comments About ANTIFA

Since the events in Charlottesville there has been a growing discussion about “ANTIFA,” the nearly 100 year old organization thats sole purpose to stop the threat of fascism worldwide.

ANTIFA, short for Anti-Fascism, is made up of thousands of dedicated members who are willing to stand up and if necessary fight back against the militant rise of fascism.  As white supremacists in Charlottesville began attacking non-violent counter protestors, ANTIFA members defended them.  Dr. Cornel West said “that he felt that the antifa saved his life” as he stood with faith leaders singing “this little light of mine.”

Dr. Mark Bray, a lecturer at Dartmouth University has quickly emerged as the expert on ANTIFA and has recently spoken on a number of cable news outlets and Sunday talk shows.

Bray who authored the book, “Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook” has come under fire for his comments on Meet the Press this week.  As the Union Leader reports, “Bray argued that ‘when pushed, self-defense is a legitimate response to white supremacist and neo-Nazi violence.’”

Dr Bray’s comments were then twisted by a right-wing news agency called “Campus Reform.”

“Following an article on the website Campus Reform that accused Bray of ‘endors[ing] Antifa violence,’ he has been subject of death threats and targeted online harassment,” wrote the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) that represents educators at Dartmouth. “We have recently seen a surge in politically motivated, targeted harassment against academics, especially those in ethnic and gender studies.”

Dartmouth President Phillip Hanlon quickly chastised Bray’s comments in a statement:

“Recent statements made by Lecturer in History Mark Bray supporting violent protest do not represent the views of Dartmouth. As an institution, we condemn anything but civil discourse in the exchange of opinions and ideas. Dartmouth embraces free speech and open inquiry in all matters, and all on our campus enjoy the freedom to speak, write, listen and debate in pursuit of better learning and understanding; however, the endorsement of violence in any form is contrary to Dartmouth values.”

Since Hanlon made his statement over 100 faculty members at Dartmouth have called for him to retract the statement.

“We continue to call on college and university leaders to denounce the targeted online harassment of their faculty members and to more forthrightly defend academic freedom, including the freedom of faculty members to speak as private citizens, even when their comments may provoke controversy or outrage,” said Henry Reichman, first vice president of the AAUP and chair of Committee A on academic freedom.

Reichman is right, Dr. Bray has done nothing wrong.  He spoke as a private citizen about a book that he wrote.  He never called for violence against white supremacists but stated that “self-defense is a legitimate response to white supremacist and neo-Nazi violence.”

I want to be clear, I do not condone violence but there is a significant difference between self defense and starting a fight.  Some people are ready, willing and able to stand up against these fascist white supremacists and defend those people who cannot.

Below is an interview from Democracy Now that recaps Dr West’s experience in Charlottesville before Dr Bray explains what Antifa is.

(Video should begin at 1:35 mark.)

Faculty Votes for Union at Plymouth State University

AAUP 100 Years Logo 2Plymouth, NH– In an election held this week, a majority of the one hundred seventy-four tenured and tenure-track faculty members at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire voted to form a union for collective bargaining with the American Association of University Professors. Plymouth State University is one of the four public universities that make up the University System of New Hampshire.

“My colleagues and I look forward to working with the university to establish agreements and processes for faculty that guarantee workload equity, transparency in governance, and academic freedom. Assured academic freedom for faculty creates the best environment for student learning,” said Rebecca Noel, associate professor of history at Plymouth State University.

“I am happy that we faculty at Plymouth State University have chosen to join together as the newest members of the AAUP to improve clarity and workload issues, and I look forward to working with the administration to making PSU an even stronger institution,” said Chris Chabot, Plymouth State University professor of biology.

“This is great news. Plymouth State University faculty, working together in a union, will have a positive impact on the faculty working conditions, student leaning conditions, and the university as a whole,” said Howard Bunsis, chair of the AAUP Collective Bargaining Congress.

In voting to join together to bargain collectively as an AAUP chapter, faculty members at Plymouth State join many of their colleagues at the University of New Hampshire and across the country.

Graduate Workers Must Have Collective Bargaining Rights

AAUP Files Amicus Brief in Columbia University NLRB Case

AAUP 100 Years Logo 2Washington, DC— Today, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) filed an amicus brief arguing that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) should overturn its 2004 Brown University decision, because graduate assistants are employees who should have collective bargaining rights and collective bargaining rights, in fact, promote academic freedom. 

The AAUP amicus brief comes in response to the invitation of the NLRB to file amicus briefs and in keeping with its long history of support for the unionization of graduate assistants who make significant contributions to the teaching and research missions of colleges and universities. The brief addresses two main points from the Brown decision. It argues that graduate assistants in private universities, including those working on federal grant funded research, are employees with the right to unionize under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), and it refutes the Brown decision’s speculative claims that collective bargaining would compromise academic freedom and cooperative relationships between faculty mentors and their graduate student mentees.

The brief explains that since graduate assistants perform work in exchange for compensation, they are employees. In fact, when graduate students work as teaching and research assistants, their work is indistinguishable from that performed by university faculty. Graduate students at public universities like the University of Rhode Island and Rutgers are considered employees with collective bargaining rights under state law. The AAUP maintains that all graduate workers should be afforded those rights. The work of graduate assistants is just that, work, and should be subject to the protections of the National Labor Relations Act.

“It is not fair that, currently, only some graduate workers have the basic protections and rights that other American workers have. At a time when higher education is becoming more corporatized, it is critically important that graduate workers have these basic protections and the opportunity for a voice in workplace conditions. We look forward to seeing collective bargaining rights extended to graduate workers at Columbia University and other private universities,” said Dilara Demir, member of Rutgers AAUP-AFT TA/GA steering committee and vice president of the Rutgers Graduate Students’ Association.

Risa Lieberwitz, AAUP General Counsel, said, “Graduate assistants, like other employees, should have rights to unionize under the National Labor Relations Act. Collective bargaining can build positive relationships in universities through negotiations for fair wages and conditions of work, including protections of academic freedom.”

“Graduate workers have organized an important movement across the country, fighting for recognition despite some challenges. Graduate assistants are workers and their contributions to the public good are valuable. We stand with graduate workers nationwide who are organizing for a seat at the table and a voice in the process,” said Howard Bunsis, chair of the American Association of University Professors Collective Bargaining Congress. 

More information is available here: http://bit.ly/1T0TNRC. 

The mission of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) is to advance academic freedom and shared governance; to define fundamental professional values and standards for higher education; to promote the economic security of faculty, academic professionals, graduate students, post‐doctoral fellows, and all those engaged in teaching and research in higher education; to help the higher education community organize to make our goals a reality; and to ensure higher education’s contribution to the common good. Founded in 1915, the AAUP has helped to shape American higher education by developing the standards and procedures that maintain quality in education and academic freedom in this country’s colleges and universities.

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