Administration abandons neutrality on union

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.

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39 Responses to Administration abandons neutrality on union

  1. Anonymous says:

    Thanks, UOMatters, for drawing attention to this UAUO post and for your comments, which are spot on.

  2. marmot says:

    What the administration is objecting to is the composition of the bargaining unit, not to unionization per se. Go back and look closely at exactly how UAUO worded the definition of the bargaining unit (http://uomatters.com/2012/03/erb-gives-notice-asks-for-objections.html) and then look at the administration’s 4 objections to the bargaining unit (http://uomatters.com/2012/04/no-union-one-union-two-unions.html). Objection #1 is about who may be put together into a single unit — not about who has the right to unionize. #2 objects to the petition’s wording that the union consists of “all faculty… including” postdocs etc. because those groups are not faculty. #3 and #4 have to do with exclusions that are written into Oregon statute (supervisors and confidential employees, respectively).

    I don’t know what the administration’s real motivations are, though I have my guesses and I’m sure you do too. But my understanding is that as a public agency UO is required to be formally neutral on unionization per se. And whatever you think of its real motives, the administration so far is only objecting to aspects of the petition that it claims violate Oregon statute or are otherwise erroneous or unworkable. The union’s statement that the admin has “abandon[ed] neutrality” (repeated by UOMatters in the headline) is a politically and legally tactical position, not itself a neutral description of the situation.

  3. Anonymous says:

    It’s interesting to see how the union organizers respond when threatened. Personally, I’m not impressed. There are very legitimate questions about the composition of their proposed bargaining unit and the supervisory roles within. Instead of addressing these issues head-on, they respond with answers like this:

    “We all do the same kind of work – a combination of teaching and research”
    Really? Since when do postdocs teach? How many NTTF instructional faculty are doing research? This is a complete lie and we all know it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not a complete lie, and such willful ignorance about what exactly NTTF do is downright wearying. Welcome to 2012. There are many NTTF actively engaged in research (remember, in this bad economy, many new PhDs slave away at these insecure and heavy teaching positions for many years before they can get TT jobs, and you better believe they’re trying to keep publishing to get the hell out of them). There are also many postdocs with teaching obligations. This data needs to be compiled and assessed at UO because the old distinctions no longer hold true, and if the TTF aim to represent NTTF or understand their needs or work with them, it’s a good idea to at least understand what the population is like. Also wearying, the straw man PT adjunct yoga instructor being used to represent NTTF interests. Do you really think instructors teaching a single class will be an active and detrimental threat to TTF the union? Show me comparable evidence. Anywhere.

    • Anonymous says:

      “Not a complete lie” – if that’s the standard we’re holding the union to then what’s the point? That’s really acceptable to you?!?

      There may be some NTTF Instructional faculty doing research but I’m not aware of them. I do know a lot of them that don’t do research, however. I also know a lot of postdocs and none of them teach (some have moved on the NTTF instructor positions, however). Maybe in other departments it happens, but not around here. Everyone in the proposed bargaining unit absolutely does not do, “a combination of teaching and research”.

    • Anonymous says:

      There are some long-term NNTF faculty that do research, and I think it helps, as it does the TTF, make them better educators. I think the confusion for the two previous posts is that there are some NTTFs that are actively looking for TTF jobs and some that are long-term NTTF. The short-term NTTF would like to be able to have a position that supports research instead of having to do it on the side and hope that it is enough to land a TTF job. But their research is probably viewed as a marginal benefit by the departments that hire them to do teaching, so the solutions are more structural over the whole nation rather than just turning NTTF into TTF without tenure here.

    • Anonymous says:

      The desire of some NTTF to do research hardly seems relevant to the union’s claim that we all teach and do research (which is obviously false). It would be interesting to know what percentage does one or both but my guess is that the majority only do one based on the fact that NTTF (with some exceptions) either teach or are researchers and are by far the largest part of the bargaining unit. In that view the union’s claim is particularly bad.

    • Anonymous says:

      Dog says

      I believe the comparison to the PSU union is important. While I don’t personally
      believe that anything constitutes a “threat” (see anon @1:38) to the Union (as I don’t believe the
      union will accomplish anything substantive – yes I know, others will massively disagree cause you already have) – it just makes little sense to me to include
      < 0.5 FTE in the same union as full time employees.

  4. Publius says:

    The union effort to sign up faculty went on for a long time. Faculty opposed to this had a lot of time to encourage others not to support the union. They did not, or failed; either way, it’s not as if this has been a surprise. The question remains: why should Oregon tax dollars, to the extent that they pay adm salaries, be spent on opposing something a majority of faculty apparently support? Fine, let the discussion continue. But the adm should stay out of it.

    • Anonymous says:

      The answer is simple Publius: a majority of faculty support does not preclude the administration from ensuring that Oregon law is being followed.

    • Cat says:

      Also, Publius, as I have mentioned in other posts: ERB states seem to prevent anyone but the Admin from filing formal objections. Thus, like UO Matters says in the original post, as a TTF who neither signed a union card nor believes the bargaining unit the union came up with makes sense, I am grateful to the admin for hiring experienced legal counsel and filing the kinds of objections that are its right under Oregon law. In doing so, it is acting on behalf of a subgroup of TTF faculty who have legitimate concerns the union refuses to recognize, except to brush off with snooty platitudes. I am confused what monies you think the institution should be using if not its own, but presumably it is acting within the law and there is no real argument there either–but for the transparency issue UOMatters is tracking.

    • Publius says:

      You hit the nail on the head, Cat. The administration is “acting on behalf of a subgroup of TTF faculty” that want its concerns recognized. Is this neutrality? How does the administration decide which subgroup of faculty it is going to champion? You are “confused what monies” the administration should use to do this. It shouldn’t use ANY money–much less money from the taxpayers of Oregon–because it shouldn’t be doing it at all. It is astonishing to me that people who have faulted the administration–correctly–for lack of transparency now claim that the administration is now our pal in addressing the alleged lack of transparency in the union. The administration does not want to share power with the union, pure and simple.

    • Publius says:

      Another point, in response to Anonymous 1:26: am I to believe that the administration’s actions are dictated by an altruistic concern that Oregon law be “followed”, generally? Is the administration charging that unionization, if it proceeded, would VIOLATE the law? Nonsense.

    • Anonymous says:

      I would rather see the Admin renege on its promise of neutrality (if that is in fact what it has done) than shy away from defending the interests of the institution. UAUO supporters can cry foul all they want, but I think the Admin is doing the right thing.

    • Cat says:

      I’m sorry, Publius, but you fail to convince me. You simply sound paranoid. I agree with Anon 9:54. I see no reason why the university, or the anti-union or anti-bargaining unit faculty, should relinquish their rights just because the union is on a high horse.

    • kangaroo says:

      I think it’s worth noting that the subgroup of faculty that the admin is supposedly acting in the interest of is a minority subgroup.

    • Publius says:

      So here is what the administration is doing, according to Anon 9:54: abandoning its neutrality to “defend the interest of the institution”. Is it the administration’s job to determine what the “interest of the institution” are–AGAINST the judgment of a majority of faculty? I sound “paranoid” (Cat 10:25)–because I have questioned the administration’s commitment to transparency (or academic excellence, in a previous post). My opinion on these matters is largely formed by reading U of O Matters, which constantly dwells on the administration’s lack of transparency and the faults of its chief academic officer, Jim Bean. No one is asking anti-union faculty to “relinquish their rights” (Cat 10:25)–quite the contrary, those faculty should press their rights but not ask the administration to weigh in on their side.

    • Cat says:

      Publius, according the the ERB anti-union faculty have no rights–only the employer can file a legal objection. We can write and petition, and maybe that will matter. And I might also remind Publius and Kangaroo both that the main issue in contention for many faculty–even those merely on the fence about the union–is the precise nature of the “majority” the union claims. You know, in most democratic (to use a word the union likes to bandy about) elections, the specific numbers are reported publicly immediately: how many people total voted, what the precise number of votes was, etc. NO ONE can get these exact figures out of the union. They just say “more than 50%”. They won’t even say 50% of whom, or calculated how. Do you or do you not have more than 50% of TTF, with or without counting the 200 PIs being excluded? So if you really think you’re justified in having everyone roll over in the face of your “majority,” you’re deluded. That too has been said many times by various people on UO Matters.

    • Anonymous says:

      “Is the administration charging that unionization, if it proceeded, would VIOLATE the law? Nonsense.”

      Why is it nonsense? Are you lawyer? Read marmot’s post above for a fine explanation. It’s clear you’re looking for evidence that the administration is EVIL based on your reading of UOMatters (“My opinion on these matters is largely formed by reading U of O Matters” – sad) but the facts, at least in this instance, don’t bear that out.

    • Publius says:

      Yes, I am a lawyer, unlike–apparently–most of the other contributors to this discussion. This is an issue in “administrative law” that does not concern what “violates” the statute (whether “the law is being followed”) but what is most consistent with the statute, i.e. what is the best interpretation of it. Geller’s letter does not charge that anyone is “violating” an Oregon statute (contrary to marmont’s characterization). Geller’s letter argues for a different interpretation which, the union rightly claims, is not not neutral on the question of unionization. Marmont is correct, though, that the U of O, as a public agency, is required to be neutral; so if anyone is violating the rules, it is the administration. (By the way– spare me the ad hominem arguments (‘You must be look for evidence of evil….) and stick to the issues.)

    • Anonymous says:

      Publius- It’s good to have a lawyer around (and apparently one of the few pro-union lawyers, if you’re affiliated with the UO at least). Unfortunately what you say doesn’t make any sense (I’m sure that’s not the first time you’ve heard that) except that we should expect a lawsuit from the union organizers any time now challenging administration neutrality. UOMatters bet is looking good that this will be a long drawn out fight. Perhaps I will be retired before it is finished?

  5. kangaroo says:

    I’ve argued enough here now to feel that the union really does need to engage more with people who are unsure of whether or not they’re in the bargaining unit and why that is.

    I have a feeling that a pitched legal battle with the administration isn’t really going to help that situation.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Dog wonders

    If it turns out that virtually all of the TTF opposition to the Union is coming from TTF in the Science Faculty, I am wondering if we really want to know that.
    The Tublitz-Hurwit 18% result would suggest that its not just faculty in the
    sciences – although it does look like almost all science faculty have been
    excluded (through the use of the word supervision) from the bargaining unit.

    This strikes me as prejudicial.

    • kangaroo says:

      If we’re doing crackpot theories, mine is that the “equity” raises went almost entirely to TTF as a means of keeping as many TTF as possible on the administration’s side in a fight against unionization.

    • Anonymous says:

      I don’t think the administration gives a rip about the faculty, unionized or not. Berdahl just doesn’t want it to happen on his watch.

  7. Thor says:

    I think the last comment made by UOMatters is at the heart of a lot of faculty members’ concerns. While the union organizers may have followed the letter of the law, I believe that there is enough disagreement that we need to have a campus wide conversation. Maybe it is just because as faculty we are used to long, drawn out discussions.

  8. Old Man says:

    The UO Charter (a State Law) declares that the Faculty (Prexy + Profs) shall govern the University. In recent times, this historic role for UO teachers has been undermined. For 15 years, efforts of the teachers and others to influence decisions were thwarted by a president who paid lip service to “shared governance” but who, in fact, essentially ignored faculty input, except when he needed it for political cover. A frustrated faculty has reacted in two ways. One group saw unionization as the road to greater influence. Others recognized the opening offered by the Oregon DoJ opinion of 2008. That opinion argued that the governance structure then in place at the UO was illegal. It advised the University to create a new governance structure. That task was accomplished by a committee of varying composition but uniform dedication. The effort culminated in December 2011 with the ratification of a Constitution that formalized the needed governance structure. Now, sadly, the two well-intentioned efforts to strengthen faculty input have come into conflict, and both stand to suffer.
    Let’s face it — a unionized faculty may be able to better its own compensation and some aspects of its working conditions, but would probably not be allowed to retain the power granted to it by the new Constitution– the power to hold Prexy’s feet to the fire on issues on which Administration and Senate disagree.
    Is there a win-win solution to be found? Perhaps a union for NTTF would benefit those who most need the help while allowing the Constitution to survive with minimal change. Such a change could involve redefining “Statutory Faculty” to exclude those teachers who are ranked as Instructors rather than Professors. This would free the NTTF to bargain for wages and working conditions while allowing the TTF to retain their role of governing the University.
    While I have your attention, let me speculate on the anti-union stance of many teachers in the Natural Sciences. Those TTF members are expected to gain outside financial support for their research operations, which typically run well into six figures or more per year. For those who do not yet have tenure, failure to gain that support means that they are unlikely to get tenure. Those who already have tenure may lose the research momentum that is essential for regaining support. Those who are unable to regain support will lose lab space and, with that, their chances of a career as contributing scholars. Thus, survival as research scholars is an ever-present existential challenge for the Science TTFs, and they may well doubt that unionization could do a anything to help them with that. In fact, it might only complicate their already difficult job of managing a precarious, ever-changing research/teaching enterprise. In response to such expressed doubts, a union-supporter might say, “The union can help you get research support from the University.” I doubt that. In some circumstances, local funds may be available to tide-over a research program that has failed to obtain outside support, but the UO will never be able to provide long-term support at the level needed for a faculty member to remain a serious contributor in the fields in which (s)he works.
    No one knows how this will shake out. That is apt to depend on the wisdom with which the UO is steered through this unstable situation.

    • Oryx says:

      Well put! As someone in the natural sciences, I often feel that those ‘outside’ are unaware of many of the things you pointed out. I especially like the line “…survival as research scholars is an ever-present existential challenge for the Science TTFs.” True!
      Doing well with teaching (which I love) and research (which I also love) is a challenge for which issues like few percent changes in salary or university committee compositions are of very minor relevance.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I know a perfect solution to this entire mess. Appoint U of O Matters as President of the University. He is clearly burdened by the gift of superior intellect along with the others who comment on this board. They can all serve as Vice Presidents and with that collective superior intelligence run the University. They clearly understand what it takes and what it entails to do the day to day work of a President or Vice President. I hope that someday I too will burdened by the gift of superior intelligence over the rest of the world. Until then I will view it with quiet reverence from afar at the U of O Matters blog.

    • Anonymous says:

      Here we go. Only a matter of time before this argument surfaced. I have no complete opinion on Berdahl yet – its much too early in the game. However, the implication that only those in positions of power have the right, moral authority or expertise to critique the actions of those in authority is downright dangerous and illogical.

      You may not like what you read here. You may question the arguments and opinions posted here. But you would be a fool to accede complete, unquestioned authority to those in power. You may agree with and like today’s king. Tomorrow’s King may call for your head.

      They get paid, pretty handsomely by academic standards, to do a job and to deal with the criticism that comes with it. If they can’t deal with that criticism, then they shouldn’t be in the job. Some of these Presidents, VP’s, Deans, etc. have so clearly failed at their job that those of us deeply affected by their failures have an obligation to question their actions and the processes by which they came to be in those positions. In fact, the State of Oregon and our own constitution give us legal authority to do so (that we haven’t fully exercised that authority is another matter).

      This blog contains content that is at the same time messy, ugly, astute, rational, irrational, mean, polite, etc. Its value is in providing a safe forum for those that care about the UO to share information we could not otherwise get, test ideas, express frustrations, organize, debate. The problems we face are complex and won’t be solved by an elite few.

      I recognize your right to “quiet reverence from afar”. It is my hope that the rest of us continue or start to exercise our rights and obligations in the system we work in.

      If those in power are getting their feelings hurt or otherwise reacting negatively to what happens on this blog or in shared governance processes, then maybe we shouldn’t be paying them $300K plus to LEAD.

    • UO Matters says:

      Thank you for writing this, whoever you are.

    • Anonymous says:

      My earlier comment has nothing to do with the “hurt feelings” of those in power. They get paid good money to make difficult decisions and to live with the consequences of those decisions. You’ll get no argument from me there. What I am saying is that this blog and most of those who participate clearly have a slanted view and the headlines on many posts enforce a certain view of the higher education world. Most of the time the unfortunate reality is that U of O Matters and many others will never have all the information around a decision regardless of the number of public records requests that are made. Transparency is a scam or a farce depending on where you sit.

      I applaud constructive criticism and questioning has been a hallmark of American society since the founding. It is fundamental to our society. What I will always have a problem with is that no matter where you go in higher education, no matter what campus you set foot on, faculty will always hate “the administration” no matter who is on the throne and will always believe they have a better idea of how things should be run. That being said if you offered the VP job or the President’s job to most faculty they don’t want it.

      Proper and civil discourse and questioning is great and can be healthy. Just because you all use big words on here and are educated doesn’t make the discourse civil and it certainly doesn’t hide the fact it is obvious U of O Matters is slanted and biased. Stop pretending to be a noble giver of only truth. You are the “Fox News” of the U of O. U of O Matters reports….you decide. The posts here drip with so much sarcasm and false morality I find it disturbing.

    • UO Matters says:

      Civil discourse is not the same thing as polite conversation. Civil discourse means, to me, discourse that enables progress to be made on important matters involving our society and government and UO.

      Effective civil discourse is not always but often rude, accusatory, inflammatory, and biased. Ny its nature it is very often offensive to those in power.

    • Puppy says:

      Anon 12:22

      Who decides what is “proper and civil”? You? The administration? Should UOMatters or some other body censure comments? If Constructive criticism and questioning are fundamental to our society, then all get to participate – the good, the bad and the snarky. The only arbiter of truth on this forum is the community of participants and regardless of UOMatters bias, you will find among the commenters a wide range of opinions and perspectives. That we have a place to have that discussion is healthy. That you don’t like the nature of that discussion is also healthy because you get to say that. I do find it interesting that you keep coming back to participate in something you find distasteful and valueless, but that’s also healthy. The door swings both ways precisely because this forum does not censure based on content or style (only on the F word apparently).

      It’s a common argument that wherever you go, the Commoners will hate the ruling class. But that is too easy and provides an easy escape from scrutiny for the ruling class. It’s also not my experience – I have worked in several places where that is absolutely not true.

      I also find it interesting the implied assertion that education and intelligence are not important factors in solving problems or engaging in discourse. They help us discern between normal organizational problems and the type of dysfunction and downright unethical behavior we have seen at this place over the years.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Thank you, Old Man. I appreciate your explanation, and in fact I agree with your vision of a renewed opportunity for shared governance post-2008. Except the crux of that is the Senate itself. And I myself wonder, but scarcely hear a word of discussion, about whether the Senate–not the constitution, but the Senate–is functioning optimally. To my knowledge, we have reached the end of the year with no Vice President at all. Volunteers for elected Senate committees were so low that the deadline had to be extended. The committee on committees, to judge by the website, is half-vacant, and all the member listed finish their terms this year. Plus, it’s chaired by the vice president–who does not exist. It’s not clear who constitutes the nominating committee, which might explain why we have no vice president. And yet, at the last Senate meeting, a huge proportion of the time was spent debating a minor change to the make-up of the IAC–and this is made out to be a life-and-death matter, a test of the Berdahl’s commitment to shared governance. One might suggest his is not the only commitment being tested.

    Like Old Man, I am very doubtful the union can have a meaningful effect on shared governance. But right now, I likewise doubt the Senate’s abililty to do so. There seems to be a huge gap between the ideal the constitution represents and the reality of who is serving and participation (or not serving and no participating), why, with what attitudes, and with what consequences.

    So just as I wish the union organizers would quit tossing out empty wishful thinking about how their efforts will enhance shared governance, so too I would like to hear less mealy-mouthed talk about the Senate and Constitution and see instead some robust efforts to encourage participation, to make it about real governance and less of a pissing contest with JH, to treat serious issues with seriousness, to respect the committee and governance structures the Senate itself has put in pace, and generally behave more like grown-ups (sorry, but that last bit had to be said).

  11. Puppy says:

    Redefining statutory faculty to exclude Career NTTF would require that the DOJ change it’s interpretation of the legal definition of “professors” as outlined in the Charter. It’s not a UO definition.

    I also don’t see the logic. I think NTTF can walk and chew gum at the same time (bargain for wages, contracts, etc AND participate equally in faculty governance as we do now).

    • Old Man says:

      Puppy’s contribution appears to make two mistakes.
      (1) A rereading of the DoJ’s interpretation of “professors” (Nov. 7, 2008) reveals that the DoJ avoided defining “professor” for the purposes of the Charter. He did note that it certainly did not include students or officers of administration, but was silent on the question of instructors. In 1974, the UO Faculty decided that full-time instructors should not only have voting rights but should be considered “professors”, but is apparently free to change its mind. In any case, I have found no requirement that the University must define its Faculty Assembly to include instructors as long as it contains no “non-teachers.”
      (2) But might it be a good idea to exclude instructors from the definition of “professors”? When the Constitution was created, The committee that crafted the Constitution saw no reason for doing so. The committee embraced the notion that an inclusive definition was likely to best serve the University. Were it not for the union issue, I would have had no reason to suggest that a change might be desirable.
      Puppy and others may be unaware that an incoming Prexy is empowered by the State Board to negotiate a new governance document (i.e., a new constitution). Noting that our present constitution maximizes the Faculty’s role in governance, and does so in a respectful, transparent, legal manner, many are keen to keep the Constitution exactly as it is. It seems highly unlikely to the Old Man (and many others) that any Prexy would accept a Constitution that grants such a strong governance role to a unionized faculty. For this reason, some Faculty members hope that the union effort fails. Others would like to see it survive, but in a manner that gives us the possibility of retaining our constitution pretty much as is. My hope, expressed above, is that NTTF get a union (for their sake) and that the Constitution be rewritten to include only the TTF so as to be acceptable to a new president. That appears (to me) to be the one chance we have for emerging from this chaos as well off, or better, than we are now.

    • Puppy says:

      Old Man,

      Thanks for your contribution and attempt to achieve clarity on these points.

      1. Unless I am missing something in later documents, this is the only statement I can find which refers to the DOJ’s interpretation (note it doesn’t contain the actual DOJ statement…I couldn’t find that):

      “Under the 1876 UO Charter, responsibility for University governance lies with the Faculty, which is the Professors and President. According to the recently issued State of Oregon Department of Justice opinion number OP-6735 (draft) and to past actions of the UO Assembly, “professors” means classroom teaching faculty.”

      That seems pretty clear to me (although limiting in that it doesn’t make any reference to research). It appears to me to be an all-inclusive definition, not one merely meant to exclude non-teachers. As an NTTF whose primary job is classroom teaching, I can’t see any other way to interpret that than to say NTTF are part of the “professors”.

      2. Accepting for argument’s sake that NTTF could be excluded and unionized on their own (I’m still not convinced that either is likely or even possible), I can at least appreciate the argument that we might be better able to retain our current, strong Constitution by not having unionized members as part of it. However, I’m not sure I would want to cede my rights and obligations in faculty governance for whatever benefits I might gain through a union. I’d rather continue participating in the fight to make this a great University – part of which includes making it a great place to work. A weaker Constitution (and I do think a reduction to the Statutory faculty of the magnitude you propose makes it weaker though I can see the counter arguments) might make us more attractive to presidential candidates and/or let us retain other features of that Constitution, but at what cost?

      Unfortunately, as has been mentioned, a strong Constitution is useless if folks don’t show up and defend it. It appears, from participation in governance bodies on this campus and all the vacant seats, we aren’t doing that. If we can’t even do that, union or not, then we have no defensible position.

    • Old Man says:

      Puppy,
      Thanks. The quote you sent is somebody’s inaccurate paraphrase of the DoJ opinion of November 7, 2008. I suspect you can’t find the original by the designation OP-6735 (draft) because that was a working number that does not appear on the final memorandum to UO Senate President, which can be found at http://pages.uoregon.edu/assembly/dirSF/dirExtra/DOJ-OP-6735.pdf. Check the final footnote.
      Your other sentiments are right on.
      I hope the faculty wakes up to the power of the Senate as exercised through the Constitution before it is too late (which it may already be, but I keep hoping).

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