A message to members from WMU-AAUP Vice President Whitney DeCamp

Given the dramatic news impacting our campus, it can be easy to overlook the more mundane issues that the WMU-AAUP is working on. This is especially true when, as is often the case, the Chapter has been able to proactively address problems, sometimes even before faculty members have noticed them. In addition to the importance of reminding our colleagues that the WMU-AAUP is always working for them, often behind the scenes, there are also lessons to be learned from some of the Chapter’s interventions.

For example, promotional increments are one of the many compensation issues negotiated every few years for our Collective Bargaining Agreement with WMU. The implementation of these adjustments is usually straightforward: someone who gets promoted gets the amount in the Agreement when the promotion goes into effect. In negotiation years, however, it is a little more complicated. Promotional increments are first received in the September 5 paycheck for faculty on an academic year appointment (July 20 for fiscal year appointments), but it is often late September before we have an Agreement that has been voted on by the faculty and approved by the Board of Trustees. As a result, the promotional increment from the previous Agreement is applied initially, and then an additional amount is provided after the new Agreement has been approved to bring up the total raise to match the new amount. This is a system that has been adopted (after much confusion in the past) to ensure that newly promoted faculty receive both a timely raise and a full raise.

Unfortunately, what works in theory does not always work in practice. Although most of the recently promoted faculty received the correct adjustments, a few did not. In our annual review of compensation data provided for the salary survey (contact staff@wmuaaup.net to request a copy), we discovered that a small number of individuals did not receive the final negotiated amount. This was ultimately the result of an error and, to their credit, the administration quickly agreed to correct it once we brought the issue to their attention, resulting in nearly $700 being added to the base salaries for those faculty affected.

What can we learn from this anecdote?

First, the WMU-AAUP has your back. As the union representing the faculty, we’re here for you when you have questions, concerns, and complaints. More than that, we take steps whenever possible to ensure that the contract is being followed, even if we haven’t received a specific complaint.

Second, always check your paystubs. Although we wish we could check all the details for everyone, we simply do not have access to that level of information. Promotional adjustments are something that we can monitor, but many other elements of compensation are beyond our reach. Does the deduction for insurance premiums match your selections? Does it include the wellness discount if you chose to participate? Do the retirement contributions match your election(s) and is the employer contribution based on the correct percentage? For overload or summer pay, are they are the correct rates? These are a few examples, but not an exhaustive list.

If you discover a problem, or a possible problem, please reach out to us to let us know. We’re happy to work with faculty who suspect there may be a problem with their compensation and to advocate for a timely correction.

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