no union, one union, two unions?

Updated with union response to Geller at bottom

4/5/2012. It’s the trade union / IWW split all over again. Sam Stites has the quotes in the ODE. Diane Dietz has more in the RG. And an actual numerator and denominator:

On March 13, members of the United Academics of the University of Oregon turned in signed union authorization cards — reportedly 1,100 cards from the 1,912-member faculty — to the Employment Relations Board, whose job it is to certify unions.

A Dog brings us the Admin response letter. My understanding is that because UO is a state agency, state law limits the admins ability to fight unionization. This response, therefore, is limited to objecting to the composition of the bargaining unit. Their objections seem pretty comprehensive:

This letter is signed by Randy Geller but was prepared with the help of Sharon Rudnick of Harrang, Long, Gary and Rudnick. UO General Counsel Randy Geller is still refusing to release the contracts and invoices for the assistance the UO administration has contracted regarding unionization. Pretty stupid Randy – the union organizers will presumably be able to use your intransigence – and possible violation of Oregon public records law – as evidence of management meddling in the petition process.

The union organizers have responded with a rare public statement, here:

On April 4th, the UO administration filed its objections to our proposed bargaining unit. The list of faculty they proposed excluding from the United Academics bargaining unit is extensive. Included in their objections are: tenure-related faculty; adjunct and affiliate faculty; postdoctoral scholars; research associates and fellows; emeritus and other retired faculty; visiting or guest faculty; and faculty of graduate and professional degree programs.  Additionally, they seem intent on limiting the right of faculty to be part of a union by expanding the definition of a supervisor to include all Principal Investigators, Department Heads, Directors of Centers and Institutes, and all faculty who work with graduate fellows.  These objections include most faculty at the UO.

It is clear from their objections that their goal is to delay the union certification process and to deny the majority of faculty the right to form a union. We remain confident that the bargaining unit for which we filed is appropriate and reflects the will of a majority of faculty.

As we prepare for the next stage of the certification process, it is important to stay informed. If you have questions, concerns, or comments, speak with your staff and organizers. This is also a good time to get more involved. We are not only working to build a union, but a strong union and a strong academic community.

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34 Responses to no union, one union, two unions?

  1. Anonymous says:

    So the union organizers still think Klamath community college is a precedent for us?

  2. Anonymous says:

    The text of the university letter (below) suggests that the union organizers didn’t do a very good job describing the bargaining unit. No doubt it was difficult considering how we were sliced and diced.

    The University of Oregon hereby files the following objections to the proposed bargaining unit described in the Certification Petition in the matter referenced above:
    1. We object 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.
    2. We object to the inclusion of postdoctoral scholars, research associates, and fellows in the proposed bargaining unit because they are not faculty as defined by law.
    3. We object to the inclusion of supervisory employees in the proposed bargaining unit, including but not limited to the President, Vice Presidents, Associate Vice Presidents, Assistant Vice Presidents, Senior Vice Provost, Vice Provosts, Associate Vice Provosts, Assistant Vice Provosts, Deans, Associate Deans, Assistant Deans, all Principal Investigators, Department Heads, Directors of Centers and Institutes, faculty who supervise a graduate teaching fellow, graduate research fellow, or graduate administrative fellow, and all other members of the proposed bargaining unit who meet the statutory definition of a supervisor.
    4. We object to the inclusion of employees who meet the statutory definition of a confidential employee.

    • marmot says:

      I am no lawyer, but 3 sounds reminescent of Yeshiva vs. NLRB, where the Supreme Court ruled that faculty at a private university are supervisors and thus not able to participate in collective bargaining. Summary of Yeshiva vs. NLRB:

      Of course the present unionization effort is governed by Oregon state law, not the NLRA. But Oregon’s law governing public employee unions also excludes supervisory employees from collective bargaining. Here is definition of a supervisory employee under Oregon law:

      “Supervisory employee means any individual having authority in the interest of the employer to hire, transfer, suspend, lay off, recall, promote, discharge, assign, reward or discipline other employees, or responsibly to direct them, or to adjust their grievances, or effectively to recommend such action, if in connection therewith, the exercise of the authority is not of a merely routine or clerical nature but requires the use of independent judgment.”

      When you consider that GTFs are employees, it certainly sounds like an awful lot of TTFs (and even many NTTFs for that matter) are supervisors.

    • Anonymous says:

      “When you consider that GTFs are employees, it certainly sounds like an awful lot of TTFs (and even many NTTFs for that matter) are supervisors.”

      Only in the colloquial sense of “supervisor”. In the legal sense, the power to hire and fire resides with Department Heads and the like. While faculty could recommend disciplining a GTF, it is actually supervisory faculty like Department Heads or people in the Grad School / Dean’s office where that power actually resides. GTF’s that instruct classes and “supervise” other GTF’s are still eligible to be in the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Prediction: long drawn out battle that results in union organizers having to start from scratch.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Dog clarifies

    the excerpt of the objections letter UOmatters posted above
    in fact, is signed by Randy Geller.

  5. Anonymous says:

    “From what we can see, the administration is basically objecting to our right to have a union at all,” said organizer and UO composition instructor Tina Boscha.

    No, they’re objecting to a combined NTTF and TTF union, on very reasonable grounds. If you put together an NTTF-only union, their objections wouldn’t apply.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Dog on counting one last time

    1) agreed there are 1912 “faculty” winter term 2012
    2) agreed that 1100/1912 is more than 50%
    3) but this dog believes the number of postdocs, Research Associates and
    Research Assistants is larger than 288 and so 1100 is not 50% of the bargaining unit
    as specified in the ERB notce

    4) dog’s could be wrong.

    • Chicken says:

      Looks like the Excelsior list contains roughly 1,939 names but that list *includes* research associates and assistants. There may still be uncounted folks in those (or other) categories, but if neither the Admin nor the UAUO can find them, it doesn’t matter.

      The bigger issue is how the bargaining unit as a whole will get redefined. As I see it, the Admin wants career NTTF only, and cuts out TRF both coming and going — in #1 directly, and in #3 indirectly (since virtually all of them supervise GTFs). My question is: how many career NTTF supervise GTFs and would therefore also be excluded by the Admin’s definition?

    • Anonymous says:

      dog says

      a) Excelsior sure seems to me to be a silly name for a damn list

      b) that said, the list is weird – I know many people that should be
      on the list but are not. I am not on the list, for instance, and
      I am not real sure why. Some PIs are on the list but most are not.
      My research assistants are not on the list – my research associates

      c)I am not sure any career NTTF can be a GTF thesis advisor.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Union has responded on webpage. Not much to say except that they’re pushing ahead. Here’s one tidbit:

    “Additionally, they seem intent on limiting the right of faculty to be part of a union by expanding the definition of a supervisor to include all Principal Investigators, Department Heads, Directors of Centers and Institutes, and all faculty who work with graduate fellows.”

    I don’t see how including those positions is an expansion of the definition of supervisor (and in fact this was discussed on uomatters several months ago). The union organizers could be grasping here.

    • Anonymous says:

      And the alternative the union offers is a parsing of the TTF that will leave departments, programs, and schools divided between eligible and non-eligible faculty, with folks moving in and out of one or the other category on a regular basis. This sounds to me like a recipe for divisiveness/confusion that is hardly in keeping with the claim on the UAUO webpage that their goal is not just “to build a union, but a strong union and a strong academic community.”

    • Anonymous says:

      Indeed. Given the definition of supervisor provided by marmot above, this would seem to be doomed from the start. Nevertheless, I’m sure the lawyers will guide the way for us.

    • Anonymous says:

      “expanding the definition of a supervisor to include all Principal Investigators, Department Heads, Directors of Centers and Institutes, and all faculty who work with graduate fellows.”

      It’s very difficult for me to see how any of these is anything but a supervisory role. I raise money for a grant, then supervise post-bachelor’s level research assistants and postdoctoral research associates. I supervise GTF’s in classes. What pray tell is not supervisory about any of that? If I did this kind of work in industry or the federal government, I would be considered crazy if I claimed this was anything but a supervisory role — I would probably be (rightly) accused of abnegating my responsibility.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hold on – I’m confused. Is ANY supervisor, according to definition above, prevented from being in the union? Or is it anyone that would supervise another member of the union? I thought it was the latter, which led to the exclusion of PIs. If it’s the former then the organizers are crazy.

    • Anonymous says:

      I believe the answer to that is in 115-025-0050:

      “(3) Bargaining unit(s) shall not include elected officials, persons appointed to serve on boards and commissions, incarcerated persons working under Section 41, Article I of the Oregon Constitution, or managerial, confidential or supervisory employees.”

      My interpretation is that no supervisor is allowed in a union. Unless the lawyers are able to seriously contort the definition of supervisor, stick a fork in it, the currently defined bargaining unit is DOA.

  8. Chicken says:

    Dog @ 3:16 – I’m thinking e.g. of senior instructors who supervise GTFs as discussion section leaders, graders, etc. I don’t know whether that would meet the legal definition of “supervisory” or not.

    FWIW, Admin is also creating a separate “senior lecturer” NTTF series that includes graduate-level instruction including the possibility of thesis/dissertation advising –, p. 10.

    Lots on NTTF policies and definitions at . Is the university already moving toward a system that provides more job security for NTTFs?

  9. Anonymous says:

    Dog to chicken

    1) I doubt that this counts as supervisory

    2) Aware of the senior lecturer distinction – our department is in the process of
    trying to hire 1 under that moniker so that person has PI status

    3) Tomlin, Tomlin, Tomlin – indeed he did try to do the right thing in providing
    more job security by re-arranging titles, terms , etc. But, that’s tomlin –
    the implementation of that, by Tomlin, was incredibly vague and confusing to the point where none of us understood what the goal was or what certain NTTF could
    be classified and how they were supposed to be reviewed.

    • Anonymous says:

      amen to Dog. rarely has an administrator had a sense of what needed to be done and so miserably failed to create a viable policy. so says the Cheshire Cat who lives in Wonderland.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Isn’t Rudnick’s main line of work defending tobacco companies?

    • Anonymous says:

      This comment along with the Frohnmayer reference on the website smacks of union organizer desperation.

  11. kangaroo says:

    Am I wrong in the assumption that there are classified employees who supervise students? … or do people tend to get ‘upgraded’ to OA at that point?

    Also.. what’s the difference between research assistant/associate and officer of research?

    Not being in the bargaining unit, my interest is mostly in supporting the technical staff that supports research. Unlike TTF & classified, they are years (3?) into a pay freeze that seems like it’s never going to end.

    • Anonymous says:

      I am concerned about no pay raises for research staff. But would a union help that? Have current unions on campus won pay raises or stopped the pay freeze?

    • kangaroo says:


      • All workers will receive a 1.5% cost-of-living adjustment effective Dec. 1 and another 1.45% COLA effective 1/1/13.

      • All workers who are not at the top of the longevity step-progression pay scale will receive two step increases during the life of the contract six months from the anniversary date of their time in grade.

      I’m research staff, but I’m classified. I’m getting a raise, my co-workers are not. The first has already left, and I believe more are looking to leave.

    • Anonymous says:

      Wouldn’t a strong, independent board for the University allow us to give such raises as there are funds for, across sectors?

  12. Anonymous says:

    Dog offers

    I don’t know what an officer of research is but
    the difference between Associate and Assistant is usually the following

    1. An associate has an advanced degree and an assistant does not (or may not
    even have a BS – hiring a high school student for instance ….)

    2. Some associates have PI status – no assistant has PI status

    3. Some associates can serve on Grad Student PHD committees (if the associate
    has a PHD) and assistants can not.

    • kangaroo says:

      In my group, the title (Assistant vs Associate) has merely reflected whether or not somebody has a PhD. For many years we had a Research Assistant as direct supervisor to many Research Associates.

    • Anonymous says:

      Dog to Roo

      wow, roo, that’s weird. That means in your group Associates may well have
      PI status. I can not fathom how a research assistant can supervise someone
      like that.

    • Cat says:

      Which just suggests, for the zillionth time (Cat is no mathematician, and is not so good at counting), that the union has thrown together a truly arbitrary hodgepodge that may not map in any predictable way onto the ERB statutes that divide supervisory from non-supervisory union members. What a mess!

    • kangaroo says:

      Go take a look at the SEIU job categories.. It has everything from food service workers and janitors to pharmacists, programmers and some very entertaining titles for people who work on ships.

    • kangaroo says:

      You can’t fathom that somebody without a doctorate can manage people?

    • Anonymous says:

      dog says

      Manage is different that supervise. Supervisor carries with it an
      implicit report structure. But apparently, my concept of the term
      research “assistant” is way off base; therefore, on this particular topic,
      I clearly don’t know or even understand what I am talking about.

      If someone is a Resource Associate, gets a grant, hires a research
      assistant, I don’t then see how that research assistant manages the PI.

      But again, apparently, I really don’t know what a research assistant is.

  13. Anas clypeata says:

    Dog and others are confused about what a “Research Assistant” is, and many people are confused about the legal definition of the word “Supervisor”.

    Research Assistant is a term of art at the UO. It means a grown-up employee, not someone who is a full-time student who happens to work in your lab. Academic Affairs has seen fit to remove their detailed faculty handbook from the web, but it used to have a detailed definition of the Research Ass[isstant|ociate] positions, all of which are Non-Tenure Track Faculty positions known as Officers of Research.

    You can read lots of details on these two formerly-existent pages:

    As for the definition of “Supervisor”, classified employees who supervise student employees are not considered supervisors, even when they have the explicit power to hire, fire, and discipline. So your gut feeling about what a “Supervisor” is should not be trusted. The word “Supervisor”, when it appears in labor relations law, is filtered through a bunch of lawyers and legal precedents until its meaning is unrecognizable to a lay person. You should absolutely not conclude that a person who supervises an employee is a “Supervisor” under labor relations law.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Confused Dog

    Imagine that – confusion over terminology at the University of Clarity, Oregon.

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