Last semester the PSC filed both a grievance and a Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) complaint against CUNY’s unilateral attempt to impose a new process of midterm tenure review, without negotiating with the union.
Basic due process in the evaluation of a junior faculty member’s progress toward tenure is protected by the collective bargaining agreement between the PSC and CUNY. The union contract does not govern matters of academic judgment, but it does provide some essential guarantees of fairness in the tenure process, so that junior faculty will not be subject to ad hoc procedures or after-the-fact requirements.
BOARD OF TRUSTEES
In February, the Board of Trustees approved a new policy calling for administrators such as deans or college vice presidents to undertake a review of the work of junior faculty members at the end of their third year. “The contract already speaks to the subject of evaluations, and it’s a mandatory subject of bargaining,” said PSC Director of Legal Affairs Peter Zwiebach. “But CUNY tried to create this new, non-contractual process without negotiating it with the union.”
In contrast, Article 18 of the union contract clearly lays out the procedures for evaluation of progress towards tenure. “It sets forth the areas that you’re supposed to be evaluated on, the purposes of the evaluation, who can evaluate you, and what procedures must be followed,” Zwiebach said. “It’s a very specific article and it is very detailed. It’s not ambiguous.” (More information here.)
Article 18 provides for department chairs to perform annual evaluations of a junior faculty member’s performance, including teaching, scholarship and service to the department or college. If a department chair is unable to perform this task, it is to be carried out by a member of the departmental personnel and budget or executive committee.
The PSC is in discussions with CUNY management over possible settlement of both the PERB complaint and the union grievance. In the meantime, said Zwiebach, faculty members subjected to the new midterm review should protect their rights by contacting a union grievance officer, either on their campus or in the union’s central office at 212-354-1252.