Frequently Asked Questions
The University of Rhode Island Chapter of the American Association of University Professors (URI/AAUP) is a democratic union that represents all full-time faculty at the University of Rhode Island. The Rhode Island State Labor Relations Board certified URI/AAUP as the bargaining representative after an election of faculty on December 15, 1971. Delegates to the AAUP National Biennial meeting elected to affiliate with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the American Federation of Labor & Congress of Industrial Relations (AFL-CIO) at the June 2022 meeting. URI/AAUP members have all of the benefits of AAUP, AFT, and AFL-CIO membership.
Rhode Island law requires the employer to collectively bargain wages, hours, and working conditions with URI/AAUP. All full-time faculty are subject to the terms and conditions of the collective bargaining agreement. The current collective bargaining agreement is effective July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2025.
There is a difference between bargaining unit members and union members. Every full-time faculty member is a non-voluntary bargaining unit member and subject to the terms and conditions of the collective bargaining agreement. Faculty must affirmatively choose to become a member of URI/AAUP by voluntarily requesting and accepting membership in URI/AAUP. To become a URI/AAUP member faculty must complete and submit this membership card.
Bargaining unit members are subject to the terms and conditions of the collective bargaining unit but cannot vote in elections, cannot vote on contracts, cannot stand for office, do not have access to member benefits, and have no say in the operation or direction of the union.
URI/AAUP members have access to full member benefits, have a say in the operation and direction of the union, can vote in elections, can vote on contracts, and can hold elected office. We strongly recommend that you become a member of URI/AAUP. Becoming a member affords you greater protections, better benefits, and a voice in your working conditions. Please complete this membership card and submit it to Mary Pinch ([email protected]).
Because URI is a public institution, the State of Rhode Island General Laws govern labor relations (§36-11). The State of Rhode Island General Laws also govern the power and authority of the URI Board of Trustees and the President of the University (§16-32).
URI/AAUP is the exclusive representative of all full-time faculty at URI and has the right to collectively bargain wages, hours, and other conditions of employment (§36-11-1).
Some powers and duties are specifically reserved for the Board of Trustees. Some examples of this are controlling University property, appointing and reviewing the President, and entering into collective bargaining agreements. The Board shall also make rule and regulations for procurement and for the control and use of its roads and properties.
Some powers and duties are specifically granted to the President of the University. Some examples of the President’s powers are to “create and consolidate departments, divisions, programs, and courses of study within the university,” to adopt a budget and present it to the Board, to recommend the organization of the university to the Board, to develop a strategic plan and to monitor and share performance metrics.
Some powers and duties are shared between the Board of Trustees, the President, and a “committee of the faculty” (Faculty Senate). These shared responsibilities are:
16-32-10 Award of degrees — Curriculum and government.
The board of trustees, with the approval of the president and a committee of the faculty of the university, shall award academic degrees and diplomas and confer honors in the same manner as is customary in American colleges. It shall also be the duty of the president and a committee of the faculty, with the approval of the board of trustees, to arrange courses of study conforming to all acts of Congress, and prescribe any qualifications for the admission of students and any rules of study, exercise, discipline, and government as the president and committee may deem proper.
While it might be ideal in some cases, the collective bargaining agreement does not really operate like a user’s manual. The contract might be easier to read if it did! The language in the contract is the result of negotiations between the Union’s negotiations team and the Board of Trustee’s negotiations team. Despite the best efforts of the negotiating parties, ambiguous language sometimes finds its way into the contract because reaching agreement on new language in the contract can be difficult.
There are several questions asked to help understand ambiguous language:
- What did the parties intend when they negotiated the language?
- How does the language in question impact (or is impacted by) other sections of the contract?
- How have the employer and union enacted (or ignored) this language in the past?
- Would one interpretation result in harsh or illogical results?
There are formal and informal ways to address differences of opinion about contract language interpretation. Sometimes a simple discussion between a union representative and an employer representative will clear up the confusion. Formally, the Union can file a grievance if the difference of opinion is the result of a dispute involving the interpretation, application, or violation of any part of the contract.
Grievances are intended to resolve disputes at the lowest possible level. Grievances give the grievant (complaining faculty member or members) and the union the opportunity to present the facts that gave rise to the grievance and ask for a specific remedy. In our contract, the grievance is first filed with the administrator who allegedly violated, misinterpreted, or misapplied the collective bargaining agreement. Let us say a faculty member alleges a dean violated the CBA. The grievance and requested remedy would first be filed with the dean, in writing. The dean would hold a meeting to hear the Union’s case and respond in writing. If the Dean acknowledges the violation and remedies the situation the case is over. If the Dean denies the grievance, the Union may move the grievance to the President’s level. At the President’s level, the Vice-Provost most often acts as the hearing officer. The Union makes its case to the hearing officer and the President (or designee) respond in writing. If the Union is not satisfied with the President’s decision the Union may file for arbitration.
The CBA has specific timelines that must be followed (see Article 25). If you think an administrator has violated, misinterpreted, or misapplied the collective bargaining agreement and you want to file a grievance, please contact a member of the URI/AAUP Grievance and Conflict Resolution Committee.
Arbitration exists so a neutral third party can adjudicate a dispute between a union and employer. If URI/AAUP does not agree with the President’s decision in the grievance proceedings, the Union can file for arbitration. Individual faculty members cannot file for arbitration. The Grievance Committee decides whether an issue is worthy of arbitration, recommends the matter be arbitrated, and asks the Executive Committee to concur. The Executive Director files for arbitration with either Labor Relations Connections or the American Arbitration Association. The rules of those groups determine the process for selecting, assigning, and scheduling an arbitrator.
The Union and the Employer present their evidence, witnesses, and best case to the arbitrator. The rules of arbitration are not as strict and those in a court room, but they can be close depending on the arbitrator. The arbitrator acts as judge and jury. The arbitrator’s decision on the matter is final and binding. The arbitrator’s decision effectively gives new meaning to the disputed contract language unless and until the parties agree to change the language in subsequent negotiations.
Your appointment letter indicates if you are a calendar year appointment or an academic year appointment. If you are a calendar year appointment, you are obligated to work in the summer. If you are an academic year appointment your work year begins five business days before advising day. This usually puts the beginning of the academic year on the last Monday before Labor Day. The academic year ends with Commencement, which is usually the week before Memorial Day weekend depending on the calendar.
If you are an academic year faculty member, you are under no obligation to fulfill contractual responsibilities between Commencement and five business days prior to Advising Day. You can be offered summer work which may include, but is not limited to, admissions work, advising, meetings, service on search committees, and curriculum development. Each offer of employment shall include a written description of the work to be done and rate or amount to be paid. Faculty have the right to refuse such work without fear of reprisal (see Article 2.1)
All full-time faculty are represented by URI/AAUP (see Article 1).
The academic year begins five business days before advising day. This usually puts the beginning of the academic year on the last Monday before Labor Day (see Article 2.2).
Faculty members are expected to attend all general faculty meetings called by the Dean or President and department meetings called by their department chairperson (see Article 2.3).
All Assistant Professors (tenure track, clinical, research, teaching) and Faculty of Practice shall be reviewed annually (Article 15.4.a, Clinical: 26.1.5.g, Research: 26.3.3.g, FOP: 26.2.2.e, Teaching: 26.4.4.a).
Non-tenured tenure track Associate Professors and non-tenured tenure track Full Professors shall be reviewed annually (Article 15.4.a).
Research faculty holding the rank of associate professor shall be reviewed biennially (Article 26.3.3.g).
Associate Teaching Professors shall be review biennially (Article 26.4.4.a).
Teaching Professors shall be reviewed triennially (Article 26.4.4.a).
Tenured faculty and clinical faculty holding the rank of assistant or associate professor shall be reviewed every triennially (Article 15.4.b, 26.1.5.g).
Tenured, clinical, and research full professors shall be reviewed quadrennially (Article 15.4.c, Clinical: 26.1.5.g,).
- Annual review means that a faculty member who submitted a dossier on October 1, 2021, shall submit a dossier on October 1, 2022.
- Biennial review means that a faculty member who submitted a dossier on October 1, 2021, shall submit a dossier on October 1, 2023.
- Triennial review means that a faculty member who submitted a dossier on October 1, 2021, shall submit a dossier on October 1, 2024.
- Quadrennial review means that a faculty member who submitted a dossier on October 1, 2021, shall submit a dossier on October 1, 2025.
The Dean of the college will appoint a search committee of full-time faculty members charged with compiling a list of recommended candidates when a chairperson vacancy occurs (Article 10.3).
Full-time faculty members in the department vote on renewing chair appointments (Article 10.7).
Two-thirds of the department faculty may forward a petition to the President requesting the removal of a chairperson. The President will conduct a hearing and render a decision within thirty calendar days (Article 10.18.1)
When the Dean notifies the department chairperson a position has been allocated to the department, the department chairperson shall appoint a search committee and search committee chair (Article 11.2).
Department members are informed of candidate visits. Meetings should include as many department members as possible (Article 11.6).
The search committee recommends candidates to the chair, the chair consults with all department members, the chair send a list of one or more candidates to the dean (Article 11.7).
The provost has the authority to approve or disapprove appointments (Article 11.8).
Workload is determined differently depending on department, college, and rank. Article 12 of the collective bargaining agreement lists factors used to determine workload. The process should begin with a conversation between the faculty member and department chair. Final approval of workload rests with the college dean.
URI Benefit Contacts:
Dawn Smith – 874-9054: Open Enrollment, New Hires, Medical, Life Ins., FSA, Legal Insurance, Wellness
Heather Nayman – 874-4618: Retirement including TIAA, ERSRI state pension
Kayla Lombardi – 874-5567: Leaves, Aflac Claims, Workers Compensation
The faculty member shall submit to the Dean such written comments as they may wish to make in response to the chairperson’s written evaluation at the same time this evaluation is submitted to the Dean, and they shall provide a copy to the chairperson (Article 15.9).
The faculty member may submit to the provost such written comments as the faculty member wished to make in response to the Dean’s written evaluation. The faculty member shall provide a copy of the response to the Dean (Article 16.3.2).
You have a choice when denied promotion. If the promotion is not a mandatory decision connected to being awarded tenure, you can work to improve the areas identified as deficiencies and apply for promotion at a later date. Or you can discuss the possibility of filing a grievance and the merits of the grievance with URI/AAUP Grievance Committee.
If the denial of promotion results in the termination of employment, we strongly encourage you to contact the URI/AAUP Grievance Committee and/or Executive Director to discuss the possibility of filing a grievance and the merits of the grievance.
The State of Rhode Island General Laws (§ 36-12-6) empower the Director of Administration to contract with insurance companies for the purpose of providing health insurance to state employees. The Department of Administration selects a health insurance provider. The union representatives who represent employees of the Department of Administration negotiate with DOA about plan design and benefit coverage. The benefit plan contracted by the DOA becomes the same benefit plan provided to all Rhode Island state employees including URI/AAUP bargaining unit members (§ 36-12-2).
A faculty member is first eligible for sabbatical leave when the faculty member has served full-time at the University for a period of at least six (6) academic years and, by the time of the sabbatical leave, has achieved the rank of associate professor or above with tenure or is a clinical full professor. This means that you can apply for sabbatical prior to achieving tenure and the sabbatical approval will be conditional pending your promotion and tenure.
Subsequent eligibility occurs by serving periods of a minimum of six (6) full academic years following the year of a prior sabbatical leave. A faculty member shall not be eligible for consecutive or multiple periods of sabbatical leave within a six (6) year period regardless of the time between sabbatical leaves.
Yes! A member of the faculty who has served full-time for at least three (3) years may be granted a leave of absence to pursue graduate study (Article 22.2)
Along with sabbatical and sick leave, the collective bargaining agreement allows for paid an unpaid leaves including family leave, parental leave, bereavement leave, military leave, personal leave, and annual vacation time (for calendar year employees only). Please refer to Article 22 of the CBA as the conditions for each leave are different.
Faculty who have exhausted all sick leave may request to borrow sick leave. Full-time faculty may be permitted to borrow two weeks of sick leave against future accumulation. If the employee is less than full-time, sick leave will be prorated (Article 22.4).
To be eligible to receive sick days from the sick leave bank, a faculty member must have contributed to the bank, must have exhausted all accumulated leave (sick, vacation and personal), must present medical documentation of a catastrophic illness or injury that is not work-related, and must have borrowed two weeks of sick leave in accordance with Article 22.4 of the collective bargaining agreement. A faculty member meeting these criteria may request a specific number of days from the Sick Leave Bank Committee, based upon financial hardship and health prognosis. The Sick Leave Bank Committee shall decide the exact number of days a faculty member may receive from the sick leave bank up to a maximum of 60 days (Article 22.5). Contact HR to begin a Sick Leave Bank request.
The collective bargaining agreement governs the relationship between the employer (URI) and the employees (URI/AAUP). All full-time faculty and chairs are members of the bargaining unit. URI/AAUP can file grievances against the employer (Board, President, Provost, Dean, Assoc. Dean) but URI/AAUP cannot file grievances against faculty or chairs.
Appendix B of the collective bargaining agreement lists way that faculty can demonstrate teaching effectiveness without relying on IDEAs.
1. First, determine if you are on an academic year or calendar year appointment. This is identified in your appointment letter.
2. Next, figure out which group your department is in (see table below)
Salary Structure - Plan A Department Groupings
African & African/American Studies
Cell & Molecular Biology
Criminology and Criminal Justice
School of Education
Fisheries/Animal & Vet. Science
Library & Information Studies
Natural Resource Science
Nutrition & Food Sciences
Textiles, Fashion Merchandising & Design
Writing & Rhetoric
Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences
Chemistry (effective 7/1/2023)
Community Planning & Landscape Arch
Environmental & Natural Resource Econ.
Mathematics (effective 7/1/2024)
Civil & Environmental Engineering
Computer Science & Statistics
Finance & Insurance
Labor Research Center
Management Information Systems
Nursing (Eff. 7/1/2022)
3. Find your rank in the appropriate table. If you are an Assistant Teaching Professor, Associate Teaching Professor, or Teaching Professor you should use the “Salary Structure Presdent-2025: Asst TPS, Assc TPS, Teaching Professors” schedule on page 58 of the 2022-2025 CBA. If you are Clinical, Research, or Tenure-Track Faculty you should use “Salary Structure Presdent-2025: Tenure Track, Research, Clinical Faculty” schedule on page 59 of the 2022-2025 CBA.
4. The minimum salary for your rank is listed by contract year. It should be noted that some faculty salaries exceed the minima because they were appointed with a greater starting salary, they may have received an exceptional salary increase for retention, they may have received an exceptional salary increase for performance, or they have been in that rank for a longer period and have received annual raises beyond the minima.