Reduction in Force

Reduction in Force
SIUC Faculty Association Fact Sheet

What do the Imposed Terms on Faculty Layoffs Mean?

Article 19 (“Reduction in Force”) in the “last, best and final” offer of the Board is de facto the end of tenure on our campus.  The language in this article states that Faculty can be fully, or partially, laid off “If the Board considers a need for a reduction in force.”  It also states that the Board will determine “the level of organization…to which the layoff applies.”

Is Financial Exigency Needed to Lay Off Tenured Faculty?

No. According to this language, there is nothing whatsoever limiting the Board’s exclusive right to terminate, or reduce, the services of Faculty.  The Board alone determines the need for Faculty layoffs; no objective parameter has to be met. The university is not required to demonstrate that a state of financial exigency exists.  Nor are negotiations with the Faculty Association required to determine whether layoffs are necessary. No program needs to have been discontinued.  The Board simply must claim there is a “need” for layoffs, full or partial , in order for them to take place. While Article 19 in the Board’s offer stipulates that various factors (e.g., “length of full time service… educational qualifications; professional training; and professional experiences”) will “be considered” when making layoff decisions, none of these are mandatory. “Consider” is administratorese for “look at perfunctorily, and then decide whatever one wishes.”

Are any Faculty safe from potential Layoffs?

Any administrator will be able to use the above language to lay off any Faculty member.  All that is required is the combined use of a properly selected “level of organization,” a convenient choice of the “University’s program needs,” and the consideration that there is a “need” for layoffs. The Board could experience a “need” to lay off Faculty for any cost-cutting scheme while the threat of layoff can be used to intimidate Faculty.

Article 19 mentions the possibility for the Association to “bargain” after the Administration has decided to implement Faculty layoffs.  This bargaining (called “impact bargaining”) is limited to bargaining the impact of a reduction in force.  Bargaining will not take place over the need for layoffs nor over the programmatic level at which layoffs will be implemented. The only things to be bargained in the Board proposal are the minutiae of the implementation of the Administration’s unilateral decision to lay off Faculty.

What becomes of tenure?

This version of “tenure” is a dramatic departure from what we have now at SIUC.  In the 2006-2010 contract, tenure could only be lost for “just cause” or as a result of program termination (“financial exigency” as a cause for layoffs was excluded, by agreement, in a side letter stating there would be no layoffs during the duration of the contract).  The language on reduction in force in the Board’s imposed offer weakens tenure to the point where tenure and academic freedom cease to exist on our campus in any recognizable form.  This language shows, once and for all, that the Chancellor’s repeated statements that furloughs were needed to avoid layoffs were just so many lies.  Under the imposed terms, we have furloughs (i.e., a cut in pay) and we also have the permanent threat of layoffs, whenever the Board considers there is “a need” for them.

What is the SIUCFA proposing?

After reviewing several Faculty contracts from across the country, the SIUCFA bargaining team drafted a proposal on Reduction in Force which included meaningful Faculty involvement in decisions relating to layoffs.  In contrast to the Board language on reduction in force, the Faculty Association proposal requires that “a state of bona fide and legitimate financial exigency” exists for Faculty layoffs to occur.  It requires that representatives of the Faculty and the Administration jointly participate in the declaration of a strictly defined condition of financial exigency.  Reduction in force is never permissible to deal with temporary financial difficulties resulting from variations in enrollment or appropriations.

The SIUCFA team proposed that the Administration identify the programs in which layoffs were to take place – if financial exigency had been deemed to exist.  Within such programs, the procedures describe the strict sequence that is to be followed when layoffs will occur. Finally, the process proposed by the Association allows Faculty members selected for layoff to file a grievance regarding their selection on the grounds, among other, of bias, procedural error, arbitrary, capricious, or bad faith application of layoff criteria.  In those cases where there is no choice other than to lay off a Faculty member, the SIUCFA proposal provides for a year’s notice.  The imposed offer from the Board provides thirty (30) days notice.

Which option protects you?

Unlike the arbitrary terms imposed by the Chancellor, the SIUCFA proposal on reduction in force establishes a process that is transparent, uniform, and grievable. When your employment and your tenure are in the balance, should you expect-and do you deserve-anything less than the transparent, uniform and grievable process that the SIUCFA proposal provides?

SIUCFA proposal Board  terms
Board alone determines “need” for layoff       X
Legitimate financial exigency must exist in order to lay off       X
Faculty participation in financial exigency determination       X
All cost saving options must be explored before layoff       X
Voluntary reductions and redeployment options must be offered       X
30-day layoff notification       X
Options for recall rights, severance pay, or retirement incentives       X
Transparent, uniform and grievable process       X