An Insight Into KY's Coming Strategery

He neglected to inform us during the Edison HR Columbine, but KY's rambling, apocalyptic 'management letters' (memos to the board explaining himself) give us some hint as to how he means to handle the current Edison crisis.

While his strategery is clear with regard to people he and his minions can fire at-will and intimidate into silence, his approach to tenured faculty is a little more problematic.

As noted here in prior posts, there are only three ways tenured faculty can be fired from Edison: 1) for cause, which means doing something very naughty; 2) for performance, which means being lame, and even in that case, faculty get a year to pull themselves together; and, 3) if the money is so tight they have to let folks go.

Stephen Marlowe, Brad Reed and Larry Dragosavac were mentioned by name in one of KY's recent 'management letters'. Dragosavac is the entire accounting department and ESEA president, so KY could not, with a straight face, pretend he could cut Dragosavac. But Reed an Marlowe were mentioned as faculty he intended to zap when the time came (we think, as the paragraph was freshman-comp ambiguous). Though he qualified his plans with mights, mays and perhapses, it was clear he intended to exact revenge for the fact that Marlowe and Reed showed the audacity to speak without fear (it is worth noting that Reed, at least, is duty bound as Senate president to convey the sense of the Senate, and would have to relay bad news to KY and the board).

In both cases, he cited some form of 'financial exigency'. The ESEA contract reads, with regard to 'financial exigency':
Section 2. Retrenchment.

A. Preliminary Report: If, as a result of discontinuation or curtailment of an academic unit of instruction or as a result of a financial exigency, the president of the College determines that the best interests of the College necessitate reducing the number of faculty, the College shall prepare a preliminary report to be submitted to the affected academic unit(s) and to the president of the Association. The preliminary report shall include a rationale upon which the decision is based. For the purposes of this section, a financial exigency is defined as that condition when revenues are so limited that the College believes it can no longer continue to fulfill current and/or future financial obligations under the contract without disrupting the administration and program integrity of the College.

B. Joint Review Committee: If the Association objects to the preliminary report, such objections and the reasons shall be submitted in writing to the president no later than thirty (30) days after receipt of the preliminary report. Upon receiving the written objections and reasons, the president of the College will convene a Joint Review Committee consisting of the chief academic officer, two (2) individuals selected by the president of the College, and two (2) individuals selected by the Association. The chief academic officer shall serve as chair of the committee.

This Joint Committee shall review the preliminary report, the objections, and relevant, related documents. The Committee shall make recommendations to the president of the College concerning the faculty retrenchments no later than thirty (30) days following the president's request. Decisions on the disposition of the recommendations shall rest with the president.

C. Procedures for Retrenchment: The procedures to be applied under retrenchment conditions shall be as follows:

1. The College shall attempt to relocate displaced faculty into other faculty, administrative, or staff positions needing personnel, as the faculty member's qualifications permit. If the faculty member is relocated to a full-time faculty assignment, the rank and salary shall be the same as held by the faculty member prior to the relocation.

Faculty will be notified in writing of all faculty, staff, and administrative openings as soon as they are advertised or posted. Displaced faculty who file a complete, up-to-date dossier with the Human Resources Office will, for a period of one year following the date of retrenchment, be automatically considered for such full-time positions for which the faculty member is qualified, and will continue to be automatically considered for faculty openings for which the faculty member is qualified for a period of three (3) years following retrenchment.

2. A faculty member whose academic unit has been reduced but not eliminated shall have his or her contract placed in suspension and will have recall rights to that program or unit for three (3) years. A right to recall means that the retrenched bargaining unit member has first rights to a full-time position for which he or she is deemed qualified.

3. A faculty member whose academic unit has been eliminated shall have his or her contract placed in suspension and will have recall rights to the program or unit should it be reinstated within a three-year (3) period. Recall rights are those specified in Subsection C.2.

4. Retrenchment and recall shall be in inverse order of seniority: the last person laid off shall be the first person recalled. Seniority shall be defined as length of service with the College as determined by the date of the faculty member's signature on his or her first full-time contract.

5. The College shall cease payment of all the faculty member's benefits upon retrenchment. The faculty member may continue, at his or her own expense, all benefits provided by the College at the time of retrenchment.

6. Upon receipt of notice of recall, faculty members shall have thirty (30) calendar days to return to work. Failure to return to work within this time frame shall constitute forfeiture of all future recall rights.
Financial Exigency is not subject to the greivance process, which means that faculty members, if civilly wronged or unlawfully subjected to this process, can go directly to court to challenge their harm.

KY's strategery is flawed for several reasons.
  1. It is patently absurd to mention "coulds" and "mights" when reality itself, and the ESEA contract provision, allow for the possible. All Edison family members subject to the contract know a financial exigency is possible--why mention it in your management letter, unless you consider the eventuality probable, and for puerile, vindictive reasons intend to follow through with it? Tipped your hand, pal.
  2. There is no financial exigency. Edison is receiving an increase in subsidy and is currently enjoying record enrollment.
  3. He has not issued a preliminary report as required.
  4. The reporting process, with community input, goes for several months; as it was not begun before the end of the term, it could only begin after contracts for the coming year would be issued.
  5. The ultimate decision on the retrenchment, or 'financial exigency' rests with KY; however, any decision he takes at this point in his self-caused crisis will be subject to extreme scrutiny by the Board, our community, and the local media. His strike-and-hide tendencies will not suffice in such a case. He will have to justify himself.
  6. There is no financial exigency. Edison is receiving an increase in subsidy and is currently enjoying record enrollment.
  7. The College will first have to attempt to place those retrenched parties in other positions; most of our tenured faculty have degrees in several areas, and given the hiring blitz (which continues in spite of many Edison family members having been preemptively fired for KY's, and his minions' convenience), the College will find it difficult to explain any summary dismissals.
  8. KY's currently avowed targets (there are undoubtedly many more not lucky enough to appear in the 'management letters') have, in terms of faculty seniority, several more years of service than their fellows. XXI.2.C.(4) states retrenchments and recalls work with a beneficial bias toward more senior faculty.
  9. There are plenty of other, non-mission critical functions and extra-curricular functions to consider cutting before gutting the faculty and replacing them with docile-by-definition part-time faculty.
  10. More than a hundred people have already been fired--those cuts, given our already YTD-positive position, obviate the need for further cuts. We know, we know. He wants to 'maintain full employment.' Which is why he fired everyone in one fell swoop.
  11. There is no financial exigency. Edison is receiving an increase in subsidy and is currently enjoying record enrollment.
The Junta is pleased to see that KY and his minions are finally employing some planning; but, as with all beginners, the first attempts are often flawed and abortive at their inception. Would that attempts at planning had been employed to prepare for the crises we face, or are told we face, today, instead of using good times and easy money to build pond-bound monstrosities that no one wants and serves as reminders of how bad leadership can sink even the most seemingly stable of institutions.


Political Paladin said...

With the number of people taking retirement, going to other schools (and there are more than you can imagine looking) how can ANY cuts be required. At the present rate, we are going to be hard pressed to even have adjuncts available to keep all of the programs active. What will that say to students that are looking at ECC? The growth in enrollment can turn based on the decisions that the administration makes. This is the point when they can decide if we grow or if we wither like an under nourished flower.

Chance said...

That there is no financial exigency comes as no surprise -- which means everyone given notice of non-renewal should be rehired, and rehired before any new or additional persons are hired -- ans anything less can only be attributed to retribution. Really, a matter so obviously simple to resolve that even a caveman could do it.

The question remains. Why? Is there anything in the management letters which suggest why this ugly maneuver was undertaken?

Inquiring minds want to know.