Partnership Discussions

Colleagues, there has been a lot of discussion generated regarding the documents on the Partnership I sent out last week. Please feel free to communicate with my blog and let me know if you would like to have your comments posted. I am posting my communication from early Monday morning to a faculty member on the subject of the Partnership, Unionization, and we the Faculty. Best.

I’m happy to see the discussion here. First, I believe if energies were placed in helping with improvements needed to move us to the next level as an institution rather than efforts to unionize, we would all be better off. Second, I do disagree with many of your points which are frankly (and respectfully) inaccurate and misleading. For example the Hartford Hospital status statement that they are “on probation indefinitely” is patently false, since they are off probation now. The “fait accompli” statement is completely false. While many things have been worked out, many of the issues are still being worked out or will need to be clarified either in these documents or new documents to come. For instance a faculty member operating board composed mainly of department chairs will be responsible for day to day UP operations. Their specific duties may need to be better clarified. Restrictive covenant language may need to be looked at to make sure it is not too onerous. Please understand that a number of academic centers now have restrictive covenant language. In our case it may be particularly helpful for our current faculty where a private practice physician joins UP, gains the imprimatur of being a UP physician, then chooses to leaves UP. I do agree that it would be helpful to have as much language as possible regarding UP’s role in the academic mission. Could you send some appropriate language to be considered for incorporation? (I’m copying Steve Cowherd who is revising the documents).

I do disagree with you regarding your point about administrative accountability. Hartford Healthcare is guaranteeing 40 million dollars to reorganize the clinical mission, guarantees that any future losses on the practice plan will be covered by them, and guarantees a payment of 7 million dollars each year to the medical school whether UP makes money or not. That’s a lot of administrative accountability.

Regarding the agreements, if one sends out agreements too early to everyone, one can be criticized that they are incomplete or need lots more clarification. On the other hand sending out agreements to late will make them appear to be too set. I think there is a balance here.

In my experience, it is easy to criticize, and tougher to truly be a part of a solution. I am wary about proponents of unionization as an answer to all challenges and controversies. Adding another layer to the discussion won’t solve problems, and they certainly won’t magically make them go away, but will diminish us to being a part of the worker-management/administration rhetoric too often put forth. Taking on challenges and controversies head on, one by one, together as a faculty, is really the answer.

You, we, have the power to do that right now. That’s been my goal in being here– faculty leadership empowerment, and faculty leadership responsiveness to their faculty constituents. This is a critical time when I need the faculty to stand up and help provide input as we move forward with the partnership. Each faculty member (as opposed to an elected few in a union) has the ability to provide substantive input. This input is through elected Council members, (if Council members reflect your interests, great, if not, vote for new ones) and through the faculty Chairs, peer faculty who have been selected specifically for their skills in leading academic faculty. Input is directly through me too. I’m a faculty member who sees patients, operates, runs a large lab, directs students, speaks at national meetings, etc. Personally, I’m someone that has placed a big priority in my career on mentoring, and creating environments where faculty can develop to their full potential, and be successful. As Dean, I’m here for one reason, to see the interests of the school and the faculty flourish.