We hope you all are enjoying the summer sun and warmth.
Below you will find AFT Michigan’s Statement on Higher Ed during the Pandemic. AAFMCC will be using this statement to guide our discussions with The College as we continue to work to ensure the heath, safety and best interests of our members and our students in these precarious times.
We will follow up with the membership to provide you AAFMCC-specific guidelines and suggestions as soon as we have additional information from
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
News from AFT Michigan
July 13, 2020
Contact: David Hecker: email@example.com, 313-204-6115
AFT Michigan: Higher Education During the Pandemic Should be Mainly Online
MICHIGAN — As we move closer to the fall semester, community colleges and universities across the state have either announced their fall plans or are working on them, meaning the question of whether and how higher education institutions should reopen their campuses to live classes and activities is being addressed in a patchwork of ideas and plans. We appreciate that these plans strive to include safety precautions, but recent upswings in COVID-19 cases in states that opened up too soon should encourage us all to reconsider some basic assumptions.
This May, we surveyed AFT Michigan members from across the state to find out how they felt about both the conclusion of the 2019-20 school year and the choices before us this fall. More than 1200 college and university faculty, graduate employees and staff completed the survey, with three broadly consistent themes emerging from their responses:
Therefore, we believe that it is in the best interest of students, faculty, staff and our communities for higher education to be conducted online to every extent possible until an effective vaccine can be distributed widely to the general public.
Faculty, staff and students made remarkably effective efforts to transition online this spring, and we believe that, with adequate preparation time and training, educators can develop online courses that will meet learning objectives for the vast majority of our curriculum. While remote learning has undeniable limitations at any level; in general, college students are more capable of learning online than younger students. Colleges and universities will need to ensure that all students have online access and those who need to live on campus do so in the safest possible manner. For that small portion of courses and services that truly require in-person settings, we suggest that institutions put trust in the educators directly responsible for the work to decide how they can be conducted safely. For example, we are committed to working creatively with our institutions to ensure safe course options for international students whose visa status is threatened by the ill-informed guidelines recently issued by ICE.
We support returning to live classes and a vibrant campus community life when we can rest assured that the health of our students, faculty, and staff will not be compromised by COVID-19. Until that point, we encourage all campus communities to prioritize public health and safety by moving online as much as possible.
AFT Michigan is a union of 35,000 educators and healthcare providers working in K-12 and intermediate school districts, community colleges, universities, and hospitals across the state.
We are now accepting applications for the 2020/2021 AAFMCC Community Scholarship and the AAFMCC Family Scholarship.
Apply until Oct. 4, 2020, at https://macomb.academicworks.com/.
Last year, with your help, AFT Higher Education was able to have over 3,000 contingent academic workers participate in our 2019 Contingent Faculty Survey, providing us with an in-depth snapshot of their work and personal experiences.
The responses, summarized in our recent report, An Army of Temps, paint a disturbing picture of how our system of higher education is failing the majority of the workforce who provide that education.
We believe that on its own, this report provides a compelling case for reforming our system of public higher education. However, the intervening months have found us in an unprecedented global health crisis, the consequences of which we are only beginning to understand but which will likely underscore the need for reform. To better understand how the global pandemic and associated disruptions are affecting contingent faculty, we have decided to put our Contingent Faculty Survey back into the field for 2020.
Please take a few minutes to complete this important survey so that we can understand your current work and personal life experiences against the backdrop of uncertainty brought about by the coronavirus.
Rally for Federal Education Funding TODAY--Friday, May 29
While so much about the near future remains uncertain, one thing could not be more clear: Going forward our schools and our students will need more support – not drastic funding cuts.
To get the help our students need, it’s time to raise our voices together in a virtual rally this Friday at 5 p.m.
Click here to RSVP for the event!
Without federal aid, public schools in Michigan and across the country could see sharp reductions in funding because of the economic downturn caused by COVID-19. Our state legislators also need to feel the pressure to do the right thing—they must lobby for federal aid to states as well!
We have to join together in a collective push to get our students the help they need in this time of shared trauma and dramatic challenges in our society. Big businesses have received aid—our children deserve no less.
Join U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, State Rep. Sheryl Kennedy, and other special guests for this virtual rally for Our Children, Our Future via Facebook Live on Friday, May 29, at 5 p.m.
RSVP here today.
First of all, thank you to all of you who completed the AAFMCC Member Experience Survey last week. In just two days, we collected 111 responses! Your feedback was very useful in helping us understand the magnitude of the problem and prepare for our meeting with The College.
In update #1 (see email from April 24), we outlined the training-related issues that we needed to address with The College. In update #2 (see email from April 30) we informed you that we had scheduled a meeting with The College to address these issues.
Here is a summary of the meeting outcomes, as well as some commentary pertaining to the issues that AAFMCC will continue to address. Please take some time to carefully read this post in its entirety as it is vital that you understand these conditions and procedures as we move forward.
Clarity of Course Classifications and Training Procedures
Due to the suspension of the on-ground course format, MCC has established 3 different classifications of courses (see below), as well as different levels of required training to teach those courses.
The different levels of training for online instruction in any capacity include:
CANVAS Orientation, MOFT Part 1 and MOFT Part 2.
AAFMCC has been informed by HR and the Provost that EVERY DEPARTMENT, with exception to the health department, will be assigning the following 3 types of courses and that each type will be aligned with specific training requirements:
1. HYBRID - For courses that are normally taught on-ground but need to utilize enhanced online instruction
Training Requirement: CANVAS Orientation
HYBRID courses will be assigned to adjunct faculty who typically teach on-ground courses, and these assignments will be made based on seniority and availability.
2. ONLINE - Pre-made course shells utilized for courses that are created for online teaching
Training Requirement: MOFT Part 1 (2-week training)
3. ONLINE - Fully repurposed on-ground course strictly for creation of and teaching online instruction
Training Requirement: MOFT Part 2 (8-week intense training)
Health Department--Additional Course Classification
WEB-ENHANCED ON-GROUND - Offered currently for HEALTH courses
Training Requirement: CANVAS Orientation
Unfortunately, since COVID-19 orders are still in place, Spring-Summer 2020 courses are to be taught strictly online, and an instructor must be MOFT Part 1 (2-week training) certified to be considered for instruction.
Fall Semester 2020
MCC is taking steps to prepare for the Fall 2020 Semester:
This “playbook” will be a live document to stay in accordance with the CDC/government guidelines. It will be updated daily and made available on MCC’s website COVID-19 section on the home page.
Lastly, AAFMCC discussed unemployment filing for adjunct instructors, and we provided the college with the process that has been put in place by the Department of Education.
Please know that you have the right to unemployment: It has been federal law since 2016.
If the college denies your claim, contact AAFMCC and let us know. Many higher education institutions deny and many union affiliates have fought and won.
AAFMCC will continue to update everyone with any news we receive. Please be safe and healthy out there this summer.
"I appreciate that you are looking into the issue of adjunct faculty online training. I would like to add that this problem predates the current crisis.
I have taught as an adjunct instructor at MCC for the past nineteen years. I requested permission to undertake Canvas training last August. Several days later, my associate dean, responded, stating that "...the department's current needs were met." In the fall, I met briefly with the provost during the Macomb campus-wide faculty meeting and related that this took place. He seemed unmoved. I again requested training in February of this year when I realized that a pandemic was imminent. This time my AD did not respond to me directly at all.
For years the college has professed that it desires and offers faculty training, if for no other reason than to bolster its case for accreditation, but its actions clearly do not support this."
-Stephen Marcincavage, AAFMCC Member
Last week we informed you that we contacted The College on Wednesday, April 22 and requested a meeting to resolve the many issues that are negatively impacting adjuncts' working conditions (if you missed that email, please go back and read it).
As of yesterday morning (a week when we sent our initial request), we had not yet received a response from The College, so we reached out again and stressed the urgency of the situation. The College responded and informed us that they can meet with AAFMCC on Thursday, May 7.
In their reply, the College requested that we provide them a list of the adjuncts who have been denied access to training, and we informed the college that the complaints from our members are so widespread that it is impossible to capture each and every issue. We also reiterated that the reason that members are being denied access to training is because we have not settled the issue of how this training is to be rolled out for AAFMCC members and that this should be our top priority.
Here is a snippet from AAFMCC's most recent email correspondence with The College:
"A major issue is that people who are volunteering to take the training are being told they cannot. Put that beside the message from the Provost that you cannot teach until you get the training equals people being told they no longer have a job at Macomb. I am sure that is not the message you are wanting department heads to convey to our members. Various departments are telling members very different things about whether they need the training or not. The confusion and mixed messages are causing tension and anger. People are in dire straits and have little patience with this lack of clarity. We are telling our members that we are working to resolve this issue, and I believe the message should be the same on your end as well. Until we settle on what the training process looks like, a message needs to go out to all of your supervisors in charge of class assignments that they should stop telling our members that they will not get classes unless they get the training. I suggest that you ask them to say that administration is working with the union concerning training."
AAFMCC members, please know that we are actively working on resolving these issues and ensuring that we get equitable processes in place for the fall semester. We are doing our best to reply to all of your emails, but know that we won't have answers until we meet with The College to work out the many issues that are affecting so many of us.
In the meantime, we appreciate your patience and your trust as you await our next update.
When we have answers, you will be the first to know.
The AFT is offering a new benefit exclusively for AFT members—trauma counseling—because we know that our members, while fully focused on serving their communities, often neglect to seek help and healing for their own personal traumas. This innovative program uses the latest communication technologies—phone, text and video—to assist members whenever needed, wherever a member may be. Sessions with highly trained, licensed therapists are completely private and offered free to all active working members, including those on leave status. Enhanced, paid coverage at a discount is also available through the Trauma Coverage® program.
Visit our AFT Members Resources Page for more information.
Following the Provost’s announcement that all fall classes will begin remotely, many of us are beginning to realize that this new precarious situation could adversely affect adjuncts and potentially threaten our contractual rights with regard to seniority, availability and course assignments.
We want you to know that AAFMCC is very aware of the many issues that our members may encounter in the coming months. Therefore, we are taking action to ensure that our contractual rights are upheld and that new, equitable measures are put into place to safeguard us from the adverse effects of these unforeseen circumstances.
On Wednesday, April 22, AAFMCC contacted Provost Don Ritzenhein and Vice President of Human Resources Denise Williams in order to call attention to our change in working conditions, outline the issues surrounding the new training requirements and request that The College work with us to come to a mutual agreement.
Below you will find a condensed version of the email that we sent to The College on April 22. We also requested that The College schedule a meeting with AAFMCC next week in order to resolve these matters.
We will follow up with an update next week even if it’s just to let you know that we’ve scheduled a meeting with The College.
In the meantime, please know that we are fighting to protect you and your rights.
Wishing you safety, health and peace!
The AAFMCC Executive Board
Condensed version of the email that AAFMCC sent to The College on April 22, 2020
AFFMCC absolutely believes in the importance of quality instruction and part of that is preparing teachers to be most effective in the online environment. However, to ask instructors who have already been teaching at your college to undertake this extensive training before they can teach online, which effectively means before they cannot teach in the foreseeable future, is a change in working conditions. Also, any qualification modifications must be mutually agreed upon by both parties in 5.7 of the contract.
We believe we can come to a mutual agreement on the issues surrounding training. Here is a list of what we need to resolve:
1. Access to training. Supervisors are still not allowing access to training for instructors asking for it at this very moment. You need instructors for several sections for the coming semester. We know you were going to work on this issue, but we are being flooded with issues about training access. This is likely to continue into the fall without a clear process that honors the contract.
2. A process to get training based on honoring the contractual process for assigning classes.
3. Accepting training that has already happened. We discussed how many adjuncts have been trained for Canvas at Macomb and at other institutions. According to some correspondence that we are getting from members, the fact that people have experience teaching online is not being considered. An agreed-upon process for assessing what training and experienced instructors have already will help the college streamline getting people slotted into sections and preparing their classes.
4. For those instructors that need training and have no experience, then they should be paid for the time it takes to complete the course since this will have to be done outside of the semester where the instructor is working. This is mandated training outside of the period of work a member is hired for. Therefore, it needs to be compensated training.
The following information is also available on our Member Resources page.
We will update these resources as more information becomes available.
Over the past week, you've received several emails from various MCC administrators regarding the upcoming transition to online teaching as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak. We realize that you may overwhelmed or confused, but know that you are not alone--this is a tough situation for everyone, including your students.
Below is an email that was sent by the Provost on March 13. It does a good job of summarizing the current situation and provides an overview of the steps that you can take to move forward with your transition to online instruction.
If you're confused about what steps you must take, please read this email from Provost Donald N. Ritzenhein, and then reach out to the Center for Teaching and Learning for further assistance.
Center for Teaching and Learning
CC-127 and SJ-120
March 13, 2020
To the faculty:
As you know, in response to the Governor’s call for colleges and universities to conduct classes online wherever feasible for the next 30 days, and recognizing the growing number of confirmed Coronavirus cases in our area, we have suspended face to face instruction through April 12. We are using the remainder of this week and all of next to work with you who are not currently teaching online to convert to some kind of remote delivery of instruction.
If you are already teaching online you should just continue. The pause this week and next only applies to face to face classes.
If you have been using Canvas to web enhance your onground classes, please work to expand its use so you can conduct class completely online for the next 30 days. Once you have converted lessons to online you may begin teaching them even before the end of our one week pause. You will want to be sure all your students know you are resuming instruction. We assume in most cases that students are already connecting to Canvas to upload assignments and perhaps even take quizzes or exams, so the conversion to all online even during the face to face pause should be feasible.
If you are not using Canvas now, a blank Canvas shell has been created for each of your classes. You can access the shell using the instructions below. If you already received training in how to use Canvas, feel free to start populating your blank Canvas shell. Alternatively, whether you’ve been trained in Canvas or not, you can send your first day handout to the CTL and they will create a core shell for you. Instructions for doing that were sent earlier this week, and are reproduced below.
I know if you have not been using Canvas in any capacity it’s for a reason. Even as demand for online instruction has grown, face to face interaction with students remains a fundamental method and philosophy of higher education. I recognize and appreciate your commitment to that modality of teaching. We are in a situation, however, where continuing face to face instruction is being halted because it places you, your students, and our community in jeopardy of contracting COVID-19. Our Center for Teaching and Learning is ready to work with you during this transition period to implement a type of remote instruction that will allow you to continue teaching, and your students continue learning, through this period, until face to face classes might be able to resume April 13. Please contact the Center to explore options for remote teaching including, but not limited to, the use of Canvas.
Thank you for your commitment to teaching and learning.
P.S. There are over 300 replies to my earlier emails and I’m working through those as quickly as I can. Should be caught up by the end of the weekend! In the meantime, as a British poster once put it, we should keep calm and carry on. Thanks.
Mark your calendars--and join us on Feb. 7 for our general membership meeting (GMM).
Visit http://www.aafmcc.org/aftmemberbenefits.html to find out more about Summer, a new resource you can use to help navigate and simplify your student loan situation.