I received a thoughtful message from a strong Union supporter suggesting that the longer messages that I have sent out to the bargaining unit members about the situation in Pediatrics be summarized for those whose attention span is challenged by their prolix nature. In the age of Twitter, you must, I suppose, recognize the shortcomings of your audience. Unfortunately, I cannot do what President Trump’s briefers do, e.g. scatter the readers’ names throughout a communication so as to keep the reader’s attention on the matter at hand.
So, with this in mind, let me make a few short points about the critical situation in Pediatrics:
1. The matter of what happens to Pediatrics is vital to the future of Wayne State University. In just one area, research, and there are many others, that is done in the School of Medicine is essential to the maintenance of our standing as a high-research University, and our commitment to serving the Detroit Metropolitan Area and the State of Michigan. This is important to all members of the University community, regardless of what program connects us to it.
2. The excellent Crain’s Detroit Business article (02/19/2018) by Jay Greene, lays out a number of things that are important to the situation in Pediatrics. He analyzed the string of emails between leaders of the three organizations involved that stretched back into 2016, and found that:
a. The leadership of the University Pediatricians (UP), the University of Michigan Medical School (UM), and Children’s Hospital engaged in extensive secret negotiations with the goal of moving the Department of Pediatrics to the UM;
b. The leadership of the UP has maintained that it was the aggressive threats of President M. Roy Wilson and his senior administrators in August 2017 that impelled the UM negotiations, when they had been meeting for the better part of a year before that contentious meeting. The threats in that meeting were unfortunate; but they were not the initiating cause of the secret negotiations; and c. Jay Greene states that the emails show: “That the UP and DMC Children’s Hospital were working closely together to seek an affiliation with UM going back to at least October, 2016. Two sources familiar with the matter told Crain’s they understood initial talks in early September or earlier.” “Affiliation talks between UM, pediatric group and DMC Children’s Hospital, more serious than known, emails show.” Crain’s Detroit Business, 02/19/2018, p. 10.
3. The Board of the UP conducted the most recent election of its members employing a list of voters that violated the terms of its own Bylaws. The maximum number of members of the corporation, according to Section 3 of the Bylaws (attached to this page), is limited to those clinicians who are regular faculty members of the Department of Pediatrics. That number is 103 by the latest count. The Bylaws allow an “insubstantial” number of other clinicians to be members, but this number “in no event shall exceed ten percent (10%) of the total membership,” who are only those who have regular clinical faculty appointments in the Department. The number reported of those voting in the last election was well beyond the allowed number of members by the Bylaws. The only conclusion that can be drawn is that the present members of the UP Board were not legitimately elected in that balloting.
After my last communication to you about the Pediatrics situation, I received a message stating that there were “inaccuracies” in my communication. I asked for a list of these, but have received none thus far. I invite anyone who knows of any such inaccuracies in any of my messages to inform me, and I will immediately correct them.
It is the Union’s position that it is vital to the interests of all who care about the future of Wayne State University that a solution to the situation be found that keeps the Department of Pediatrics intact and in the University. Let us hope that the mediation that has been ordered by the Judge, hearing the current case brought by the three clinical faculty members against the UP Board, will contribute to that end.
Charles J. Parrish
President, AAUP-AFT, Local 6075, WSU Chapter
Vice President-at-Large, AFT Michigan
President, AAUP Michigan Conference
5057 Woodward Avenue, Suite 3301
Detroit, MI 48202