Update to members confirming NFA affiliation with AAUP

12 Jan 2012 9:30 AM | Deleted user
On behalf of the NFA state board, this statement is to clarify some of the confusion created by AAUP president Cary Nelson's email sent Tuesday.

As of last Wednesday morning (January 11), the state board confirmed, unequivocally, that the NFA remains the Nevada affiliate of the AAUP and its members remain AAUP members.

The NFA is indeed engaged, as you know, in discussions about restructuring our affiliation with the AAUP to ensure NFA members get the services they need and deserve -- rather than having more than half our dues used to subsidize AAUP activities in other states.  This negotiation was begun with the national officers and staff in the fall of 2010 and is currently being pursued with the AAUP's governing board, its National Council. NFA has indeed, as we have reported to members repeated, withheld dues to AAUP until the situation is resolved, primarily because the invoices received from AAUP placed all our members in the highest income band and assessed dues on all our members at collective bargaining rates. But there has been no action by either party taken to end the NFA affiliation with the AAUP or to expel NFA members from the AAUP, and there has been no diminution in services from the AAUP to our members.

Let us offer a few additional points of clarification :

1. Nelson's letter is inaccurate in that the NFA's affiliation agreement with the AAUP remains in place until one side or the other withdraws. NFA certainly has not done that and taken no steps towards that, nor have we even discussed that formally on the board. AAUP is governed by its elected National Council, not by one individual. Nevada's representative on the National Council, Candace Kant of CSN, has confirmed that there has been no discussion of ending the affiliation there either. Both legally and morally, NFA members remain AAUP members, and it is incorrect and even irresponsible to suggest otherwise. Our dues backlog is not either out of the ordinary for the AAUP in dealing with its state affiliates nor is it in any way a secret.

2. We have discussed the situation openly with our members repeatedly, including on the front page of the September Alliance and in a letter last month to the statewide membership, also posted on the NFA blog. It was also covered in the UNLV Rebel Yell.

3.  The letter from Cary Nelson is mistaken in several other ways, most notably in the discussion of what services the AAUP have offered to NFA and when. We have received only the vaguest suggestion of grants or subsidies, and our request for Nevada-based staff support was explicitly rejected. Moreover, the AAUP proved unable to provide any significant assistance for public education in Nevada, despite repeated requests, throughout 2010 and 2011. Professor Nelson presents the situation as if it were a matter primarily of the much-publicized announcement by UNLV in March 2011 of the prospect of a declaration of financial exigency, but the program terminations and faculty layoffs had begun in Nevada over a year earlier. He makes no mention at all of the proposed layoffs of tenured faculty at Western Nevada (which have been successfully rebuffed by their faculty with support from the NFA) and of the actual layoffs of tenured faculty at UNR (which are being challenged currently by lawsuits in federal court against UNR and the System, supported by the NFA).

4. Most especially, his claim that there is no increase in dues for NFA members is belied by the invoices we have received from AAUP, which place all our members in their highest income band and assess all members the collective bargaining dues rate. This only makes sense if one presumes that NFA would absorb the increase in AAUP dues out of its own operating budget or that, as the AAUP office has suggested, the NFA raise dues on its members. (NFA leaders made this point at the June 2010 national meeting when the dues increase was approved and Nelson himself agreed at that time that Nevada constituted a "special case" which should be resolved by a special agreement.)

5. Perhaps most importantly, NFA has set aside and is all holding our back dues in hope of an agreement with AAUP, although no serious offer of additional services or restructured affiliation has been forthcoming for more than a year.

6. The problems in the AAUP are by no means limited to Nevada.  For the past several years, academic publications such as the Chronicle of Higher Education have reported on areas in which the organization has become less effective than it once was.  The AAUP has worked hard to address some of these issues, but the issue of excessive focus on the national office at the expense of state and campus chapters was brought to light recently by Gary Rhoades, former AAUP general-secretary, who just this week published an op-ed in the Chronicle of Higher Education denouncing the AAUP's "inward-looking perspective that detracts from the mission of serving members" and calling for more focus on cultivating chapters and state- and local-level leadership.  The AAUP has announced that it is working to resolve this problematic issue, with state organizations believing that they could work harder.  We support any progress that they make in this area.

Any comments, concerns or questions may be addressed to the NFA state board directly at info@nevadafacultyalliance.org. Additional updates will be emailed to members directly and posted on http://nevadafacultyalliance.org/News.