How can I find out more about the Union Management Committee?
Date: November 2016
I read the recent Letter to the Editor in the Cornell Daily Sun that referred to conversations that occurred in the Union-Management Committee. I didn’t realize that the content of the Union-Management Committee discussions were public. Given Union members are sharing information from the Union-Management Committee discussions, where can I find meeting minutes or other reports from these meetings? What topics does the Union-Management Committee discuss?
Thank you for taking the time to answer my question and the questions of other students. It has been quite useful.
Dear Information-seeking Grad:
Thanks for your question about the Union-Management Committee (U-MC) in light of the Union-authored Letter to the Editor in the Daily Sun in which CGSU selectively reported (from their perspective) specific content from a recent U-MC meeting, in reference to a specific student case. It is unfortunate and disappointing that the Union chose to selectively report a portion of the confidential information from the latest U-MC meeting, particularly information relating to a specific student case.
Such behavior violates the Bylaws of the U-MC, mutually agreed to by all parties. In addition, the Union knows that the Graduate School cannot comment on or share information about individual student cases without violating the provisions of FERPA (the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act), a federal law that protects the privacy of student records.
It was disingenuous for the Letter to the Editor authors to suggest that the CGSU Grievance Chair “pushed … the Dean … for any information” regarding a specific student case, and when the Dean could not share information then criticized that action and portrayed the Dean as “refusing to give an update.” The Dean is prohibited by federal law from providing such information without the explicit written permission of the individual student involved in the case.
The Union-Management Committee was established through the Agreement Cornell signed with CGSU/AFT/NYSUT in May ’16. The U-MC Bylaws specify that “the parties recognize that some of the issues discussed may be confidential in nature and agree to respect the professional boundaries and obligations of the other” and that “issues relating to a specific student’s academic standing or performance, other than for referral to resources and personnel within the Graduate School or other appropriate campus offices will not be an agenda topic for the U-MC.”
It is indeed unfortunate that Union members of the U-MC have chosen to ignore the Bylaws that they agreed to, and, further, to selectively share the details of an individual student case. Any student can choose to release the University from FERPA restrictions on information-sharing, or can choose to make public the full documentation associated with their student records. Unless the student chooses to do that, however, the University must hold to complete confidentiality.
Again, thanks for your interest in knowing more about the Union-Management Committee. Content of the monthly meetings, however, is confidential and public minutes are not available. I hope that the Union will adhere to the agreed Bylaws in the future.
Barbara A. Knuth
Senior Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School