4/17/2012: That’s the title of a long post on the union website here. Here are some excerpts with a little commentary:
The administration has abandoned its position of neutrality and hired two law firms to run an anti-union strategy aimed at denying employees’ union rights:
When we first announced our card-signing drive in January, the administration issued a formal statement declaring that University leaders “support the right of workers to organize and have maintained neutrality on the issue of a faculty union.” However, after it became clear that a majority of faculty voted to unionize, the administration changed its position. Rather than honoring the outcome of a democratic process, UO administrators now say that they’re opposed to the creation of our union, and have raised multiple legal objections aimed at delaying or thwarting certification of our union.
The organizers do not mention the fact that hundreds of faculty share these same objections and have raised them in petitions to the ERB. This is a mistake that will just further alienate an important group of faculty. This is what the union means by being inclusive?
The administration has hired Sharon Rudnick of the law firm Harrang Long Gary Rudnick P.C. to advise them on strategies for preventing union certification. The administration has also hired the San Francisco-based anti-union firm Curiale Hirschfeld Kraemer LLP. Among other things, this firm runs seminars in “Maintaining Union Free Status” and is engaged in multiple efforts to deny employee bargaining rights, including a current effort at Pomona College in California, where the firm is engaged in blocking the organizing effort of college dining hall workers. [ii]
This is true. It took a public records request and a petition to Lane County District Attorney Alex Gardner, from UO Matters, to force Randy Geller to release the contracts. Geller’s obsession with secrecy – to the extent of stumbling over the foul line of Oregon’s public records law – is not doing the administration any favors.
The administration’s letter to the ERB objected “to the inclusion in the proposed bargaining unit of tenure-related faculty (tenure-track and tenured); faculty of graduate and professional degree programs; emeritus and other retired faculty; visiting or guest faculty; adjunct and affiliate faculty; and postdoctoral scholars, research associates and fellows, because they lack a sufficient community of interest with the proposed unit.”
However, Oregon already has multiple precedents of all these types of faculty having union rights and being included in a single union. Specifically:
▪ The PSU faculty union – recognized for 30 years — includes: tenure-track faculty, non-tenure-track faculty, research assistants, research associates, lecturers, adjunct faculty, emeritus faculty, and faculty in graduate and professional degree programs.
This is misleading. The PSU bargaining union only includes employees in these categories with 0.5 FTE or greater. The proposed UO unit includes people teaching a single PE class. PSU has a separate union for part-timers.
How are UO administrators using public resources to undermine labor rights?
The administration uses public resources not only in hiring anti-union law firms, but also when it assigns UO personnel, whose salaries are partly paid by taxpayers, to devote time to undermining the rights of employees.
It is, of course, legitimate for administrators to disagree about what should be in a union contract. And it is legitimate to raise questions aimed at tweaking or clarifying the margins of how the bargaining unit is defined – for instance, exactly which visiting positions should be included, or similar questions that focus on legitimate gray areas in the law. But attempting to deny fundamental union rights to a group of faculty (such as tenure-track faculty) or seeking to overturn faculty members’ own choice to join together in a single union for tenure- and non-tenure-track faculty – when exactly such unions are already recognized at multiple campuses under Oregon law – is not a legitimately gray area of the law. This is using public resources to dishonor and attempt to thwart the labor rights of University employees.
Our hope is that the administration will abandon these anti-union legal strategies and agree to honor the results of a democratic process, and deal with faculty in good faith and with mutual respect.
Personally, I hope the administration does not abandon these efforts – though they sure as hell don’t have the right to hide what they are doing from the faculty, as they’ve been trying to do.
I think the TTF faculty are seriously divided on the union issue, and in the long run it is better to have a long drawn out expensive fight that clarifies all the issues and leads to a clear legally defensible outcome, whichever way it goes. I also think it’s a good idea for UO to hire outside firms for this, given Randy Geller’s lack of competence in this area.