A Modest but Significant Success

FAYETTEVILLE, May 1, 2020 — It’s already become widely known, namely appearing on the front page of the April 30 Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, but we wanted to share this perhaps surprising victory now, on May Day, International Workers Day.

Resolution - Accepting Employee Choice on Remote Employment - April 2020

The University of Arkansas Faculty Senate on a unanimous vote April 29 approved a resolution on flexibility on working remotely as the coronavirus pandemic continues. Local 965 President Bret Schulte, an associate professor of journalism, drafted and presented the motion.

The article “Faculty Supports ‘Choice’ on Classes – UA Group Votes on Fall Resolution” said, “The resolution approved Wednesday states that UA’s faculty senate ‘supports employee choice in continuing to work remotely — be they faculty or staff — out of overwhelming concern for their personal well-being, should university administrators decide to resume face-to-face instruction in the Fall 2020 semester.'”

In response, Assistant Vice Chancellor of University Relations Mark Rushing said in a statement, “All recommendations from the Faculty Senate, Staff Senate and student governance groups are welcome and will be considered as we work through this situation together. We are also closely monitoring planning and discussions regarding best practices taking place across the higher education community and beyond.”

Bret’s “whereases” and “therefores” (PDF of resolution) were developed from discussions in the Local’s monthly membership meeting (on Zoom) April 16, as our April 26 mailing list announcement noted.

I recommend reading the Demzette article, as Jaime Adame’s reporting contains vital information to unpack. I’m also real proud of Bret!

Bret told me after the meeting “that the Executive Council of the Faculty Senate, at my suggestion, is considering creating a committee that would survey UA employees for gaps in training and material for remote instruction.”

All this brings me around to asking each of you this balmy May Day to join or rejoin your union, UA-Fayetteville Education Association/Local 965.

We have the ear of a growing number of groups, leaders and other gatekeepers. The larger our group, indeed, the more clout we have.

And U of A employees need our influential voice, as the Covid-19 pandemic has been making very clear.

Our dues range from $50 a month for full-time faculty to $12 a month for part-time staff. We are working with AEA/NEA to reduce graduate assistants from that $12 to zero dues. What do you get for your money? Glad you asked.

Ben Pollock, Local 965 secretary

Note: This piece was first emailed to members and interested U of A colleagues May 1. It’s been edited slightly here.