University of Michigan Ann Arbor Chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP)

DRAFT Minutes for February 22, 2012                                  Approved on March 21, 2012

Present: D. Burns, R. Lomax, Ian Robinson

The meeting was called to order by D. Burns at 12:10 pm.

Minutes. Updates to the February 8, 2012 minutes were noted and subsequently approved.

Treasurer's Report. Postponed until C. Smith returns.

Announcements. The segments "announcements", "active cases" and "faculty governance" of this meeting were all consolidated into an extended discussion of the GSRA unionization situation in general, the case of Jennifer Dibbern in particular and the role the UM AAUP might play. In the matter of Jennifer Dibbern, members present felt that it would not be appropriate for the AAUP to take a position based on opting between various conflicting accounts and testimonies, nor should AAUP base its approach on attacking Prof. Goldman, her former advisor. Members felt that one could absolutely defend Dibbern's right to hold her opinions on unionization and that her spending time working on this was a form of academic free speech. It was not entirely clear what Dibbern wanted or could ask for going forward. Members discussed suggesting to the national AAUP to propose itself as an outside mediator, or as an outside reviewer as in the case of schools examined for possible censure. The point would be that published norms of procedure had not been followed in a case that involved possible violation of academic freedom. Members questioned whether national AAUP agrees with the Chapter executive committee that defending a graduate student's academic freedom against faculty colleagues is within the AAUP's mandate. Members present accepted the argument that this situation seemed to end the possibility of Dibbern's pursuing a career in Materials Science, and so had a severe impact on her ability to pursue her chosen academic interests. In effect, she was a colleague-to-be who has been eliminated from consideration for further work in that field. It is not clear whether an examination of the procedures in the case will lead to an improvement in her situation, and although it is meant in part to try to de-personalize opposition to the Department of Materials Science's behavior in the case, it will probably be taken that way anyway by participants. Burns will seek an opinion from the national AAUP on the matter.

It was noted that SACUA was formally against the unionization drive and that Prof. Barald had been asked to appear before the administrative law judge handling the case by the Michigan Attorney General William Schuette. Opposition to the amendment to the law governing public employees and their unions introduced in the legislature via writing to the legislature seemed pointless; Gov. Snyder might be swayable. Members are encouraged to do so.

As to the unionization effort in general, members agreed to pursue a middle ground, though it was estimated that UM administration would be unwilling to compromise, given recent signs of opposition to the effort in the state legislature. I. Hamilton will seek information on the Cornell Model, wherein the University and a union came to agreement on the bargaining unit in such a way as to divide GSRA's into those working on their theses and those working on others' projects not related to their theses. If the Regents could be persuaded to talk with the union before a unionization vote to set such boundaries for the bargaining unit, this would answer the most serious claim raised by faculty who oppose the effort. With information on the alternative model chapter will proceed with drafting letters to interested parties with the suggestions decided upon at that time.

Active Cases. See above.

Faculty Governance. See above.

State/National AAUP News. No report.

Old Business. No report.

New Business. D. Burns raised the possibility of an online election of the chapter's officers this year in order to involve more members. In view of recent ongoing problems between the AAUP and the Department of Labor concerning the validity of AAUP elections, he will write to the national AAUP to ask for guidance. R. Lomax pointed out the technical difficulties to maintain security. I. Hamilton reported that M. Bailey wanted the names of those interested in the AAUP, as determined last summer, for recruitment purposes. Ian will forward those to him.

Adjournment. The meeting was adjourned by D. Burns at 1:15 pm.

Respectfully submitted,

Daniel M. Burns, Jr.


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