Archive for 2002
As many of you may know, the Faculty Associations representatives closely monitor the budget process for UC, particularly in relation to issues of faculty concern, such as salaries. As the 2001-02 budget unfolded in the spring, we alerted our members to the strong possibility that faculty salaries would suffer. We predicted that merits would be maintained and that COLAs might be as little as 0.5%. Let us now update you on information from UCOP regarding salary issues and other budget issues of interest so that we may solicit input from you on our lobbying efforts for the 2002-03 budget process. Current economic realities will make that budget planning even more difficult. Many of you already know from messages from the Academic Council Chair and others that budget reductions are being considered for UC in the areas of Employee compensation, State funding for summer school, Enrollment growth funding, Student fees, and Targeted cuts to special programs. In this memo, we will also address these issues as they relate to the Faculty Association efforts. We ask you to respond to the memo by telling us your priorities in these various funding areas so that we can represent the interests of our membership in our lobbying effort.
Faculty and Staff Salaries:
Salary scales for the Oct. 1, 2001 range adjustment of academic salaries have now been issued; these are now available at http://manuals.ucdavis.edu/apm/690.htm
Salaries for non-represented academic employees have been range adjusted by 0.5%, across-the-board, including above-scale salaries. Off-scale increments will be reviewed and adjusted by 0.5%, if, when rounded to the nearest $100, the adjustment results in an increase.
Merits have been maintained. Vice President Hershman stated at the Oct. Regents’ meeting that UC learned from their experience during the budget crunch in the 1990s when a judge determined that it would be discriminatory to deny merits to one group of faculty members in any given year since faculty are only eligible for merits every three years. That suit came about as a result of Faculty Association action.
Faculty salaries now lag about 3.5% in relation to our comparison institutions. Although final figures will not be available for 2002-03 until February, UCOP is projecting that faculty salaries may lag as much as 6 or 7% in the 2002-03 year, depending on how our comparison institutions are also affected by the economic slump. Our understanding is that in the budget being prepared for Regents’ review in November, UC will seek state funding for regular merits, plus 4% for salaries now and an additional 2.25% restoration of funds when the economy improves. And Hershman stated that UC will probably not get all that we ask for; his question is how big a lag can be allowed. We know from past history that it takes a long time to recoup funds and to regain parity once our salaries begin to lag.
Staff salaries: UC believes that it must treat staff the same as faculty. States funding for their merits plus COLAs for 2001-02 equals 2%, to be awarded according to whatever agreements are made within collective bargaining. UC had requested much more for staff in the 2001-02 budget. UC, the Faculty Association, and the employee unions all lobbied strongly, but neither staff nor faculty received what was desired. The Legislature often compares UC employees to other state employees; their few “increases” were in the form of reducing their contribution to their retirement funds. This action may help to account for the recently-announced proposal for a CAP accrual credit for UC employees that is due for discussion at the November Regents’ meeting.
Enrollment Growth Funding: The Faculty Association has strongly supported recent efforts to regain funding lost during the 1990s when UC continued to accept all eligible students despite state funding that provided for only a portion of the additional students who came to us. Hershman asked the Regents to consider whether we should limit enrollment to match funding.
Student Fees: In the past the Faculty Association has not taken a stance on student fee issues. Legislators have felt very strongly that fees should be low; they have supported fee buy-outs to keep them low. But, Hershman pointed out that UC fees are low; they are $2000 below those of our comparison institutions. Regents are concerned that poor economic times are not good times to raise fees, but many of them felt that fee increases may be necessary to meet funding needs.
Summer Enrollment: Hershman said that the long-term goal to make summer term fully state-funded, like the other three quarters, may need to be slowed down. . So far, “full state-funding” has been provided to UCB, UCLA, and UCB. The plan was to fund the remaining campuses beginning in the summer of 2002.
Targeted cuts to budget augmentations for special programs: In recent years while the economy has been strong, the Governor and the Legislature have provided sizable augmentations to UC’s core funding to provide for special needs. Some were proposed by UC, others by the Legislators. Many relate to UC helping to improve K-12 education and to providing outreach activities. Others are related to research funding requests. A problem is that the State had the money because of stock market capital gains and strong consumer confidence that led to relatively unbridled spending. Legislators seem to have been making long-term plans with essentially one-time dollars. Now the gains have turned into losses and spending is way down–a double-barreled hit. Hershman recognized that it will be very controversial to try to decrease the level of some of these programs, but everything must be on the table. In considering how and whether to do so, he also stressed that UC must work with the Governor and the Legislature. We agree and will be advocating strongly for positions that support the interests of the DFA membership.
Disclaimer: The board of the Davis Faculty Association has prepared the following article solely to bring to the faculty’s attention a Yolo County Superior Court decision that has gone unreported to date, and to obtain credible reactions thereto. The DFA has no stake or interest whatsoever in the ultimate outcome of the underlying individual grievance claim.
Has the Davis Committee on Privilege and Tenure Been Appropriately Safeguarding Faculty Members’ Rights?
One of the objectives which all the UC Faculty Associations have in common is “the protection of the privileges and responsibilities traditionally reserved to the faculty for the purpose of maintaining and improving the academic quality of the University.” In this context it can be argued that with regard to their impact on individual faculty members, the two most important Standing Committees of the Academic Senate are the Committee on Academic Personnel (CAP) and the Committee on Privilege and Tenure (P&T).
Prompted in part, we think, by the DFA having distributed data which showed that for more than a decade Davis’s faculty salaries ranked among the lowest in the system, the Executive Committee of the Division appointed a Special Committee to review and recommend changes in (mainly) CAP’s practices and perspectives.
Because P&T conducts the bulk of its business in strict confidence and reports its activities to the representative Assembly in carefully chosen language, it has been nearly impossible to tell whether that Committee has been dealing fairly and appropriately with faculty grievants. That situation changed abruptly last August, when a faculty member who believed that his case had been mishandled by the Investigative Subcommittee of P&T (the ISC) sought and obtained judicial relief in the Yolo County Superior Court. (The Davis campus “umbrella” P&T functions via two virtually non-interacting Subcommittees: Investigative and Hearings. Cases normally reach the latter only by referral from the former.)
The legal case is in the public record so the brief description of it offered below breaches no confidences, but the court-ordered hearing of the grievance by the Hearings Subcommittee of P&T has yet to occur so the matter will be discussed in fairly general terms.
In December of 1999 the faculty member in question went to P&T charging that his department chair had improperly impeded the conduct of his research program. The then-applicable Bylaws of the Academic Senate, both local and systemwide, required that as its first order of business P&T had to determine whether a grievant had made out a prima facie case that one or more of his/her privileges MAY HAVE BEEN violated. (Not a particularly high bar). If the committee made a negative determination they were required to notify the grievant to that effect, and the matter would end there. If they determined that a prima facie case HAD BEEN made, they were required to attempt to promote a settlement of the controversy. If no settlement could be reached, a formal hearing was required. It should be noted that the Bylaws make no provision for an on-campus appeal of a negative determination.
In mid-July of 2000, after several months of sporadic activity and without having made a determination one way or the other, the ISC notified the campus ADMINISTRATION that the grievance at issue had been filed and that conflicting and incomplete evidence was making their task very difficult. In that letter they also recommended to the Vice Provost that the faculty member and the department be encouraged to engage in “mediation.” At that point they told the faculty member only that they had “completed their review of the case” and had forwarded their recommendations to the Vice Provost. In September the Vice Provost wrote to the faculty member asking if he would be willing to participate in a mediation effort arranged through the campus Mediation Services organization headed by Larry Hoover.
The faculty member declined the Vice Provost’s offer of mediation and asked for the matter to proceed to a hearing. In January of 2001, after several more unsuccessful attempts by the ISC to effect mediation, the committee chair formally notified the grievant of their final determination that he had NOT made out a prima facie case and hence the grievance could not be referred to the Hearings Subcommittee.
Through his attorney, the faculty member informed the committee that as he read the applicable Bylaws, their having involved the Vice Provost in the case before they communicated anything at all about it to him constituted a de facto determination that a prima facie case existed, and he was therefore entitled to an evidentiary hearing of his grievance.
The committee never responded to that letter, so in due course a lawsuit was filed in Woodland seeking a writ of mandate ordering the University to give the faculty member a hearing. The case was defended by a staff attorney from the General Counsel of the Regents, who argued, among other things, that a P&T committee’s decision re the establishment of a prima facie case is a discretionary act not subject to review under the California Code of Civil Procedure. The Superior Court Judge disagreed, and ruled that the committee’s actions constituted an abuse of discretion because they were holding the grievant to a standard of proof beyond their charge under the applicable Bylaws. He granted the writ and ordered that a full evidentiary hearing in the case be held within 90 days.
In one of his “declarations” in the case, made under penalty of perjury, the then-sitting Chair of P&T wrote: “The Davis P&T Committee’s practice is to attempt to promote an amicable resolution of a dispute at any point in the proceedings if the Investigative Subcommittee BELIEVES that an informal resolution would be appropriate and beneficial to the grievant AND TO THE ADMINISTRATION (emphases added). This has been the practice of the Davis P&T Committee since I became a member in 1996.” According to the Senate Bylaws, however, the committee could not proceed in that vein without first having determined that a prima facie case existed. This case clearly shows that in at least this one instance, the mindset and actions of the ISC of P&T violated rather than protected the rights and privileges of a faculty member. Unfortunately for all concerned, taking them to court was (and may still be) the only available avenue to challenge that committee’s behavior.
At the moment the faculty have no way to know whether what is being reported here is an aberration in an otherwise satisfactory environment, or the first public airing of a systemic problem. Accordingly, we encourage any readers who have had dealings with P&T in recent years to categorize them qualitatively in an e-mail message to the DFA at the address above. In your response please use terminology such as “rewarding, excellent, acceptable, sensitive, insensitive, frustrating, unsatisfactory,” etc. Please do not include your name or any identifying elements of your case in the body of the text. In recognition of the confidentiality of the P&T process, our staff will print out (but not read) each message, cut off and shred the header block, and then delete the message from the e-mail server. Faculty members will see and review only the complete file of anonymous responses. (Please make sure that you do not put a boilerplate signature block on your reply.)
We are seeking only lasting impressions of how well our respondents’ experiences matched their expectations of how cases would be handled. If we get a reasonable number of responses to this request we will summarize them in a follow-up article and forward the results to the Division Chair and the Executive Council.
Such information could turn out to be critically important to the faculty at large because in September of 2001 a new set of systemwide Bylaws governing P&T committees took effect. The changes are sweeping and may allow (but do not require) various administrators more opportunities to participate in grievance cases than did the ones they supersede. It also permits “any party” to attempt the informal “negotiated resolution” of a grievance case at any time, and provides for its resolution by mediation under stipulated conditions.
This legislation has gone largely unnoticed by most faculty members, but to its credit the Divisional Committee on Faculty Welfare (then chaired by a member of the law faculty) was very critical of the massive scale of the changes being proposed. Their comments were transmitted too late to have an effect on the systemwide legislation per se, but there is still some room for navigation locally because the permissive nature of some of the changes means that for good cause, and by appropriate means, e.g. via the Representative Assembly, the faculty can oversee and to some extent endorse or refute the practices of its divisional P&T committee.
In order to do that, of course, the faculty needs to know with some clarity just how the committee has been performing. We invite your response.
by Robert Meister, President, CUCFA
Effective January 1, 2003, UC employees can expect their out-of-pocket costs to increase and their benefits to deteriorate. The design of the plans will also be considerably different: there will no longer be a zero-cost HMO option; Aetna’s UC Care will be replaced by a two-tier option offered by Blue Cross, and, at a higher cost, faculty will have the choice of self-referring with the entire Blue Cross network with 80% coverage.
Anticipating significant changes to faculty health insurance plans, the Council of UC Faculty Associations (CUCFA), of which the DFA is a part, established a task force last year to enter into ongoing consultation with the UC Office of the President (OP). Our original intent had been to advise OP on faculty concerns about plan design and monitor the terms that OP was negotiating with the providers. Task force members were selected for their expertise, and we were particularly fortunate to have Richard Scheffler, who holds the chair in Healthcare Markets and Consumer Welfare at UC Berkeley, and Warren Gold, professor of pulmonary medicine at UC San Francisco.
The task force met with OP officials at length three times between February and August. We were given information in advance about the Request for Proposals (RFP) and the history of employee and employer contributions for each existing plan. At the outset, we stated our desire to influence the choice UC made among bidders based on plan quality, plan design, and the adequacy of provider networks. We had the opportunity to express our criticism of existing providers, and our principal concerns for the future, but OP reneged on its promise to provide us with information and analysis about the competing bids while the selection process was underway. Nevertheless, CUCFA had some influence on the criteria used on the eventual choice, and is now in a position to provide an independent and critical perspective on the issues that OP addressed-and should have addressed-in the bidding process. We have also offered to collaborate with OP in preparing educational materials on the new healthcare options so that faculty members will be able to make informed decisions during the Open Enrollment period this November.
[DFA COMMENT: The DFA is considering whether to schedule a meeting where DFA members could ask questions of representatives from OP about these plans. If you are interested in attending such a meeting, please let us know by replying to this memo. If you are not currently a member, you can join. Click on our web page to get more information and an application to join or call 756-5486.]
The following summarizes some of the main points that emerged from CUCFA discussions with OP since February.
UC CONTRIBUTION. Although health care costs have increased in the past few years, do not assume that OP’s present policy is a simple pass-through. During the 1990′s (as part of the shift to managed care) health costs decreased significantly. Instead of passing through these decreases in the form of lower employee premiums or better benefits, OP dramatically reduced its employer contribution, allowing plans to deteriorate and employee costs to rise. In 1992, for example, OP contributed $208 for one-party insurance, and $505 for families. By 1999 (in unadjusted dollars), these amounts had fallen to $146 and $405, while employee copays and coinsurance rose. This year, the employer contribution will be back to approximately its 1993 level, without adjusting for inflation. It is further notable that, despite anticipated increases in insurance bids of 16-25%, OP’s budget request to cover this increase was in the range of 6-9%, and that it did not seriously bargain for more than the 6.7% increase for health care funding that it eventually got.
PREMIUM CHANGES. OP is still struggling with the implications for insurance premiums of this year’s non-budget, but it is clear that the premium increases for health benefits will be massive. In a year of negligible COLAs, this means an effective decrease in net compensation for all employees. There will, for example, no longer be a zero-cost option. The minimum cost of insurance is likely to be c. $15-20 per month for individuals, and the benefits of the minimal plan are likely to be significantly thinner than is presently the case.
UC CARE. UC Care is dead, the victim of adverse selection compounded by rising healthcare costs. OP (perhaps rightly) sought to reduce the effects of adverse selection in future years by requiring bidders to pool risks more broadly across employee groups. As I understand it, this meant that the bidder for UC Care’s successor would also bid on an HMO (managed care) and a PPO (Preferred Provider Organization) contract. It also meant that the three-tier POS (Point of Service) option that was customized for UC Care would be standardized as a two-tier option.
AVAILABLE OPTIONS. Faculty will now have three meaningful options for health insurance (in addition to Prudential High Option). The first is an HMO (which will no longer be zero-cost); the second is a two-tier system (replacing UC Care) that allows members to move out of the HMO structure and self-refer with a PPO network (at additional cost); the third is a new option allowing members to self-refer within a broader PPO network with 80% coverage.
PROVIDER CHOICE. During the course of our meetings with OP, the CUCFA task force relayed faculty concerns about the quality of Aetna’s provider network for UC Care. OP was not surprised by these complaints, and emphasized that Aetna’s relation with UC was the result of its purchase of Prudential. The solution, from OP’s perspective, was to increase the number of bidders. Previously, it was said, there had been too few bidders because the requirements of UC Care were too specific. OP hoped that the new structure would elicit a greater number of bids from insurers with better provider networks. This hope was largely realized. The result is that Aetna has been replaced by Blue Cross, and the new POS plan will be called Blue Cross Plus.
CUCFA ISSUES. CUCFA’s discussions with OP focused on two issues of plan quality.
The first issue was the accessibility of major medical centers (including UC hospitals) in the HMOs and in Tier 1 of UC Care (and its successor). We were concerned specifically that faculty on campuses without hospitals should not have to choose between having primary care physicians who are local and the opportunity to get secondary care at a major medical center. In addition, we were concerned that faculty on campuses with teaching hospitals would continue to have to access those hospitals as providers.
Our second issue was the practice of “balance billing.” A brief explanation is in order. Faculty choosing UC Care based on the Open Enrollment literature provided might have reasonably believed that they would be reimbursed for 80% of their Tier 2 bills, and 60% of their Tier 3 bills, that the entire amount of their actual bill would count toward their deductible, and that all of their out-of-pocket (i.e., unreimbursed) expenses would count toward their stop-loss (i.e. catastrophic cost) insurance. These beliefs would be false. Under UC care, the insurer counts only the amount it would have paid to its lowest cost HMO contractor as “reasonable and customary” expense, and reimburses only 60% or 80% of this deeply discounted amount. Moreover, it is this amount (and not the actual bill) that counts toward both the deductible and the stop-loss, despite the fact that the providers operating outside of their HMO contracts customarily charge far more than they would to HMO patients. Thus, if a faculty member self refers, e.g. to Sloan-Kettering, the reimbursement would be far less than 60% of the actual bill, and if the actual bills continued to exceed HMO rates there might be no point at which insurance picks up 100% of the out-of-pocket costs. (In this sense, “catastrophic coverage” does not exist outside the HMO context.) CUCFA argued strongly that the practice of “balance billing” should be curtailed, and that to the extent that it is not, employees need to be informed of the practice during Open Enrollment.
OP RESPONSE TO CUCFA. OP staff claim that CUCFA’s input was influential on two counts.
OP argues that the replacement of Aetna by Blue Cross has improved accessibility to major medical centers for faculty on all campuses. We cannot presently confirm that this is true.
The proof would lie in the Deloitte-Touche study of provider networks that OP commissioned as part of its bid-review process. In our April meeting we were promised access to this study, but it was later withheld because it was based on “proprietary information.” We protested during our August meeting, and last week received a written response allowing us to examine and copy a redacted version of the D-T report. It remains to be seen how much will be made available to us, and whether we should join with other employee groups in demanding more.
The choice of Blue Cross should significantly reduce the problem of “balance billing” because no provider with a Blue Cross contract is allowed to charge more than the PPO rate to anyone insured with Blue Cross, even when they are out-of-area under an HMO or POS plan. In order to enforce this limitation, however, insured employees need to be informed of it, and of their vulnerability to “balance billing” in the event that they do not choose a provider under Blue Cross contract.
OP has agreed to assist CUCFA in the preparation of educational materials on the choices available during Open Enrollment. In particular, these materials should address the issue of “balance billing”-the differences between the maximum that providers can bill under Tier 2 of the POS and their PPO contracts, as well as the adequacy of network coverage (including major medical centers) in the HMO, POS, and PPO options for each campus. In addition, OP has promised to allow CUCFA to review and comment on the draft version of OP’s own educational materials prior to Open Enrollment.
In response to a petition circulated by the DFA Board of Directors, the Chair of the Academic Senate has called for a town meeting to be convened next Monday afternoon (3:00- 5:00 at the University Club). The request for this meeting was stimulated by the concern of faculty members regarding the fate of lecturer positions and was signed by myself as Chair of the DFA Board. The issues to be discussed include those relating to faculty welfare (which is the DFA’s primary concern) as well as issues raised by individual faculty relating to their ability to deliver academic programs in the future.
I hope that this meeting will provide a forum for discussing several issues which are briefly outlined below. Other related issues may be raised at the time of the meeting. The success of this meeting to provide a better understanding and bring resolution to these issues depends upon the participation of faculty that are concerned and knowledgeable. Please mark your calendars and plan to attend if you have an interest in these or related issues:
1. Senate- faculty consultations on cross-discipline matters that concern the delivery of the curriculum;
2. Provisions for dissemination of information on the role of Lecturers in various departments/programs;
3. The humanitarian aspects of allowing lecturers hired 6 years ago to understand that they would be kept on with 3-year contracts if they fulfilled their responsibilities.
4. The possibility that delivery/quality of the undergraduate curriculum could be compromised by removing lecturers too quickly?
Bill Lasley, Chair
Davis Faculty Association
Background: Last November, the Davis Faculty Association put out an e-mail Bulletin which informed the faculty that a Yolo County Superior Court Judge had ruled that in its handling of a faculty member’s grievance case the Investigative Subcommittee of the Divisional Committee on Privilege and Tenure (P&T) had contravened the Bylaws which govern their actions, and he consequently ordered the campus to hold a P&T Grievance Hearing within 90 days. The DFA memo invited faculty members who had dealt with P&T to evaluate the performance of that committee in the context of their own particular cases. We received more than a dozen (anonymous) responses that we are herewith summarizing for the faculty at large. We plan to send a comprehensive compilation of the responses to the Chair of the Davis Division, members of the current P&T Committee, and the Vice Provost–Faculty Relations.
“Personnel” Problems Comments Positive: Generally speaking, respondents who had gone to P&T with “personnel” problems were satisfied with their reception by the Committee and with the outcomes. Comments included: (1) “I thought P&T did a good job though they were slow…an outrageous judgment (by) CAP was overturned by P&T. I was well treated and have no complaints.” (2) A faculty member who felt “repeatedly abused by the personnel processes at UCD” presented his/her case to an ISC member who was “outraged by my mistreatment…. The full P&T sent a strongly supportive recommendation to the Provost.” (3) “My dealings with P&T in recent years (have been) rewarding and excellent.” (4) “In…a promotions issue I found the committee’s work timely, appropriate, informative and ultimately supportive of my position as a faculty member with regard to….an incorrect reading of the policy manual. The administrator in question was unresponsive…until informed by the P&T committee that his position was incorrect.”
Other Grievances Critical of P&T: On the other hand, nearly all of the respondents who had taken other kinds of grievances to P&T were highly critical of the Committee’s performance. Comments included: (1) “I filed a case with P&T (a few) years ago. P&T found that a prima facie case had been established, however the end result was no action. This emboldened the department leadership (ed: to continue the mistreatment). Given the previous lack of action in spite of having established a firm case, I am reluctant to revisit P&T. I am currently seeking a new position elsewhere.” (2) In the recent past “…I have been party to three separate grievances filed with the committee. One case has advanced to the investigative stage. To my knowledge no action has been taken on the other two. It has been my experience that far from protecting faculty rights, P&T has served to seriously erode them. Faculty often appeal to this committee after exhausting attempts to resolve their grievances through (ed: Administrative channels). The extensive delays and lack of action…serves only to deplete already diminished stamina…..For many this results in giving up…for myself it leads to a search for employment elsewhere.” (3) “Based on (what) I have witnessed over the years I do not think that P&T is coming anywhere close to doing an appropriate job of safeguarding faculty rights. The experiences have been universally frustrating and almost devoid of anything positive. I now see P&T as a significant part of the problem for faculty members whose rights have been violated.”
In her Annual Report to the Representative Assembly which appears in the Call to the Meeting of June 2, 2000, Faculty Privilege Adviser Martha West discussed having met with several members from one department who complained about unfair treatment by the department chair and faculty members aligned with the department chair. She subsequently wrote: “This is the second year that I have commented on the difficulty of dealing with possible abuse of power by department chairs….We do not have many (dysfunctional) departments on our campus, but the few we do seem to be well-known, with administrators and faculty members aware for several years of the problems that exist in (them). If the campus is addressing these long-term problems, the faculty members involved are unaware of any such efforts.”
Given this report, it should be no surprise to have had a respondent to the DFA report that in the year 2001 a group of 11 faculty members had requested and (apparently with some reluctance) gotten a mass meeting with P&T (which reportedly the Committee Chair did not attend.) The author then writes: “However, since then six months have passed and we have no indication that they have even started the process.” The letter began with: “I believe that P&T is a sham which is internally corrupt and which has deteriorated into nonexistence.” and concluded: “In summary it would be better to abolish P&T and not to fool the faculty with an illusion that there are faculty rights and academic freedom on the UCD campus.”
DFA Board Comments:
We would like to thank those faculty members who took the time to respond to the survey and share their experiences.
We believe that the Committee on Privilege and Tenure should be commended for the success expressed in the survey in the highly important and very difficult task of resolving the personnel disputes that come before the Committee.
We believe that the Committee on Privilege and Tenure and the faculty as a whole should give serious thought to the results of the survey concerning the Committee’s work in non- personnel cases. Although the high level of dissatisfaction expressed in the survey cannot and should not be taken as a full assessment of the Committee’s work in the non-personnel area because of the nature of the survey, we believe that the dissatisfaction expressed should lead to a careful study of this part of the Committee’s work to determine if it is possible to achieve better results.
We welcome any and all comments about this very important topic.
The Davis Faculty Association Board