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Arbitrator sides with faculty on grievance over 2010 reorganization

By Danielle Gamble
On January 30, 2013

An arbitrator ruled this month that the University of Toledo violated one of its labor agreements by failing to effectively consult with Faculty Senate before a 2010 reorganization of several colleges.

The arbitrator did not order UT to reverse the reorganization that merged two colleges and created others. But he did direct the university to follow its contract with the American Association of University Professors when similar situations arise in the future.

“We’re not going to undo what they did,” said Don Wedding, business professor and AAUP grievance chair. “But going forward this arbitrator decision can be used as to future reorganizations of the university.”

At issue was a portion of the AAUP contract that says UT will “effectively consult with and seek the advice of the Faculty Senate on matters of institutional planning.”

The university argued that it went through “an open process of providing information, gathering input, and meaningful engagement” through a series of discussions over about nine months, according to the ruling.

But arbitrator William C. Heekin wrote that although the discussions before the plan was finalized may have been useful, they did not meet the requirements of the contract. He said the clause in question means both that UT must ask the Faculty Senate what it would recommend and that "a decision have not already been finalized or be near finalized at the time of consultation."

Heekin discussed UT President Lloyd Jacobs’ address to the Faculty Senate on Sept. 28, 2010, a few weeks before the board of trustees adopted the plan. He wrote that Jacobs’ appearance “mainly involved the taking of questions for about twenty minutes regarding a reorganization plan the virtual entirety of which he had already formulated."

The 2010 reorganization included splitting the former College of Arts and Sciences into three separate colleges, now the College of Mathematics and Science, the College of Visual and Performing Arts, and the College of Language, Literature and Social Science.

Other colleges that were created include the College of Medicine and Life Sciences and the College of Adult and Life Long Learning.

The restructuring also fused two colleges to create the Judith Herb College of Education, Health Science and Human Services, a decision that’s now in the process of being reversed under the Main Campus five-year plan.

Wedding said a situation similar to the one that led to the 2010 grievance is unfolding now.

He said while he doesn’t have the authority to define what effective consultation is, he doesn’t believe the administration has fulfilled its obligation to consult the senate about the current restructuring plans.

University spokesman Tobin Klinger said the faculty was much more involved with the current restructuring plan and the administration has consulted with faculty effectively.

“We’re continuing moving forward with our plans,” he said.

Faculty Senate President Mike Dowd said while and other faculty members were in on discussions during the planning process, he does not feel that the entire Faculty Senate was consulted, and that Scarborough should have presented a proposal to the senate earlier last semester.

“The consultation [of Faculty Senate] is to provide perspective,” Dowd said. “You can’t get that from one faculty member; it has to be from a collective wisdom. It’s hearing from nurses, from economists, and engineers. That’s effective consultation.”

Scarborough made a presentation about the proposed changes Dec. 4 to Faculty Senate, but Dowd said the provost “was wrapping up his information gathering period.” Dowd said he was unable to attend the meeting because he was sick, but received reports from colleagues.

Dowd said that while Scarborough may have intended the presentation as a consultation, “given what we’ve gone through before, it isn’t.”

“Consultation, not in a legal or definitional sense, it means working together,” Dowd said. “We don’t have veto power with regards to administration; we know it. We just want to avoid the problems that we have seen occur over and over and over again.”

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