Saturday, December 13, 2008

Univ. of Mich. Standard Practice Guide = 290 pages

In a comment on this post, Bob Wright asks: "Mark, how do union contracts compare to the rules that govern tenured professors? Is there a "rule book"?"

The University of Michigan Standard Practice Guide (SPG) is the series of documents that serves as the "faculty/staff rulebook." In the link provided above, there are about 90 different sections listed, none longer than 12 pages, and most 1-4 pages long. Since the SPG applies to faculty and staff, there are many sections that apply only to staff and not faculty (e.g. rest periods, overtime, lunch periods, on-call pay, etc.).

In total, the entire University of Michigan SPG for faculty/staff is 290 pages long (and many of those are partial pages) versus the 2,215 page UAW-Ford contract.


At 12/13/2008 2:10 PM, Blogger Milena said...


At 12/13/2008 2:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think we could have a much more academic discussion over substance than length or weight. The answer to how long a document should be is this: It depends. Which is better, a light dictionary or a heavy one?

GM has many locations in many states. It also contains a lot more information than work rules. Maybe a more appropriate comparison would be comparing the GM/UAW contract to the work rules of all the colleges in the Mid-west?

At 12/13/2008 4:10 PM, Anonymous Mika said...

Walt G is right.

One should not endeavor to compare apples and oranges. The employment of a professional educator at the university level is substantially different from an hourly manufacturing employee. . . . Night and day.

At 12/13/2008 5:48 PM, Anonymous Ralph Short said...

Union contracts that are as long as 2215 pages represent a sellout by management. There is no excuse for it. Unfortunately, publicly owned companies too often have people at the top and in the middle who are mainly interested in their own career vs. the long term prosperity of the company.

I have bought American cars all my life and will continue to do so but the reality is the executives never made the stand to protect the company. That stand required a strike.

Part of the reason for that besides the people simply looking out for themselves is the fact that decisions are made by committees. Guess what, in tough times that is a recipe for failure.

I guess they will finally get a "car Czar" via congress, aka dictator which is what most successful businesses have. Unfortunately, the Czar will be just another lawyer, DC insider, who is clueless, so decisions will be made by committee. So the circle is complete or is that the downward spiral.

At 12/13/2008 6:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see that tenured professors can get a sabbatical leave (jobs-bank type leave) for six months every six years of employment (Source: The University of Michigan SPG 201.30-2). Accordingly, every 12 years they can get one year off work with full pay and benefits (except paid vacation): that’s 8 ½ % of the time they get paid for not working.

I am sure we can argue the difference in merit of sitting in a room for 95% of full pay or at home for 85% of full pay (Source: UAW 2007 Contract), and meditating or whatever for six months for 100% pay (professors), but let’s not go there. It would be interesting, though, to find out how much money 8 ½ % of all the tenured professors’ gross pay eligible for sabbaticals would be in the U.S. and compare it to the UAW jobs’ bank cap. Just as all professors do not take their eligible sabbaticals, the jobs bank cap is not all used. Consequently, these are theoretical amounts of money.

Who do you suppose collects more money annually: university professors on sabbaticals or UAW workers in the jobs bank? Just as the price of cars could be reduced without the jobs bank, do you think tuition for students could realistically be reduced if sabbaticals were curtailed? Which touches families more: The price of cars or the price of college tuition? All businesses should examine how to cut costs for their customers, and make their companies more profitable. After all, it’s the capitalist’s way.

At 12/13/2008 6:39 PM, Blogger wcw said...

You left out summer vacation. Tenured professors get substantially more time off than any other type of American worker.

I wonder why this one is so exercised about a tiny fraction of the working class getting closer to his privileged position than most.

At 12/13/2008 7:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, the auto companies are going out of business unless concessions are made. In comparison, the U of M is not. I think we should all stop trying to decide who is worth what. The market will decide and it is telling the automakers that the costs of production need to be reduced in order to compete.

At 12/13/2008 7:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

wcw, Colleges are cutting tenured professors to save costs by moving toward more part-time and non-tenured positions. There is a quality of education issue we have to consider, too. As someone who has been in education, as a student or teacher, for as long as an autoworker, I've found that you get what you pay for. I just wanted to point out that a lot of jobs have benefits that are uncomfortable to explain to other people. Auto workers do not have the corner on that market.

Anonymous 7:42, This market is telling a lot of people they are going out of business. Technically, the U.S. is bankrupt with $10 trillion in debt and many more trillions of $$ in unfunded liabilities. GM's problems are emblematic of our times--a ton of people to support who used to work there who don't anymore. All they need is a printing press like the government has to survive.

At 12/13/2008 11:06 PM, Blogger Plamen said...

This time, believe it or not, I fully agree with Walt G.'s last comment [grin].

If there is to be no "creative destruction", there will be worse non-creative one. It's all well and good to moderate somewhat the volatility a free market imposes on a worker's finances and life, but not to the point where you lapse into outright sacrifice of the market's vital pain-equivalent feedback mechanism - bankruptcy. And then again, the government is about the worst agent you can choose for such a job.

At 12/14/2008 12:08 AM, Blogger Kazimer said...

U of M Std Practice Guide irrelevant comparison to UAW contracts.

The UAW contract regardless of length , weight or any descriptor/qualifier is a living agreement that has the acceptance of the Detroit based auto/truck companies and the UAW and its membership.

The UAW contract has provided the basis for the support of the men and women who are its members that allows them the ability to be the best auto/truck production workface in the world.

At 12/14/2008 3:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


tenured professors don't get 3 months off to do nothing. Teaching is a very small part of their lives. When I was at UCLA (and I suspect this is equally true of Michigan), most professors spent as little time as humanly possible actually teaching. The good ones would be happy to help you out if you came by their mandated office hours, but their real jobs were to research and publish, not to teach.

At 12/14/2008 4:58 AM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

GM: Myths and Facts


GM has cut its payroll drastically, by 45.8 percent in the U.S. alone since 2000. In fact, GM is far from the largest employer in the industry. With 252,000 employees worldwide, GM ranks fifth overall behind Volkswagen (373,400 employees,) Renault/Nissan (316,121 employees,) Toyota (316,121 employees) and Daimler (272,382 employees). Yet GM sold more vehicles worldwide last year than any other automaker.

The U.S.-based auto industry remains a vital part of the economy. It generates more employment, annual economic output, exports, and retail business than any other industry. It directly employs a quarter of a million Americans, and supports another 5 million at dealerships, suppliers and service providers.

U.S.-based carmakers spend more on R&D than any industry – more than $12 billion annually. We also provide healthcare benefits to 2 million Americans, and support nearly 800,000 retirees and spouses with pension benefits.

GM chose to do its early hybrid development on transit buses, where the fuel savings per vehicle are substantial. Since 2003, more than 1,000 buses using the GM-Allison hybrid system have been put in service, and another 1,700 are on order.

GM introduced a Saturn Vue hybrid for the 2007 model year, and one of GM’s first 2-mode hybrid models, the 2008 Chevy Tahoe Hybrid, was named Green Car of the Year for 2008.

And the GM hybrid lineup will continue to grow. By the middle of next year, GM will have nine hybrid models for sale in the U.S. GM intends to offer 15 hybrid models by 2012.

Early this decade, GM put a major focus on improving its cars and expanding the number of crossover vehicles that it offers. As a result, of the last 13 new GM products introduced in the U.S. 11 have been cars or crossovers. Of the next 19 launches, 18 will be cars or crossovers.

Cars like the Saturn Aura, Chevy Malibu and Cadillac CTS have won major awards and are selling well in a very tough market. GM is also the only U.S.-based company to offer a subcompact car, the Chevy Aveo, which we introduced back in 2003. A second subcompact, the Pontiac G3, joins the lineup early next year.

GM crossovers like the Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia and Pontiac Vibe have become increasingly popular with customers who need the space and utility of an SUV in a more fuel-efficient package.

The very rapid shift from trucks to cars that occurred when fuel prices spiked this spring has forced all carmakers to adapt. With its current and future product lineup, GM is well positioned to take advantage of growing demand for fuel efficient vehicles.

At 12/14/2008 5:15 AM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Speaking of Creative-Destruction. The U.S. had a quick and massive Creative-Destruction process mostly from 2000-02, while Japan has been slow to change. Consequently, Japan's public debt to GDP ratio rose to 195% (the U.S. public debt to GDP ratio is 60%, although it'll rise above 70% this year). Japan may be on the verge of another "Lost Decade." Unfortunately, fiscal policy won't be able to help much this time.

At 12/14/2008 1:54 PM, Blogger wcw said...

WaltG, I'm not against vacation. I love vacation. I think the US should have European levels of it, and that faculty should not be the exception, but the rule. That's why it offends me that someone who has that much paid time off is so anti-vacation, anti-worker and anti-union.

Anon3:25, you would seem not to know much about teaching loads for tenure-track and tenured faculty. Classroom hours are de minimis: you get full-time pay for something like twelve hours a week, nine months of the year. But once you've published and as long as you work during the remaining twenty-eight hours a week, you can take summers off. And I haven't even mentioned the consulting opportunities. Tenured faculty have a sweet deal that I only wish unions could get for their members.

At 12/14/2008 4:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are professors at UM unionized?

At 12/20/2008 3:40 PM, Anonymous Steve said...


Wow...with all of the facts you listed about GM, I wonder why they are going to run out of cash in a matter of weeks? I don't understand why given all of those facts listed above.


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