Union constitution vote starts

6/5/2013: The constitution is posted here. Electronic voting by union members started last night, closes 6/14. I think you still have through the end of the week to join and be able to vote.

5/31/2013: I am a member of the faculty union constitution committee and I endorse the end result. 
It’s democratic. Join the union and vote on the constitution, vote to amend it if you want, vote for officers, vote for your contract. This constitution is endlessly, relentlessly, mind-numbingly democratic. The worst possible form of government, except for all the others. And it’s also legally binding, a quality which President Gottfredson has been loathe to grant the UO Senate’s Constitution. 
Still to be determined is the dues rate. That’s also democratic:

Initial dues of this union shall be recommended by the Finance Committee and ratified by the members in good standing concurrent with contract ratification (as specified in the Bylaws).

Yeah, I’m on that committee too. Bigger than 1%, smaller than 2%. The larger the raises our bargaining team can extract from the bloated JH administration, the smaller the % we’ll need for dues. 
I’m no economist, but I know a few, and they will worry about the clause that requires the union to raise dues automatically if the state and national affiliates raise their per diem charges to the local. But within the state we will be a large local of 1900 people, with plenty of influence over any potential changes. 
Official message from the Union:
After many months of hard work, the United Academics Organizing Committee is pleased to announce our union’s Constitution and Bylaws are ready for your final review and ratification.
These documents represent a significant effort by the United Academics Constitution Committee (Janna Fierst, John Davidson, Randy Sullivan, Darrin Divers, Debra Merskin, Bill Harbaugh, Jane Cramer, and Michael Dreiling).  We thank them for their diligent research and writing, and their commitment to creating a Constitution and Bylaws that establish a strong democratic foundation for our union.

On February 20, the United Academics Constitution Committee held a public forum to gather feedback and take questions on the UA Constitution and Bylaws.  Having incorporated your helpful suggestions, the Committee now recommends ratification of the Constitution and Bylaws (except, of course, for any errata that you may identify – please be sure to get us your final feedback no later than Monday, June 3!).
You can provide feedback on this final draft in two ways:
1)    Attend the Constitution and Bylaws Information Session on Monday, June 3, 11am-1pm, in the Browsing Room of the Library.  There will be a short presentation at 11am and again at 12pm.  Please stop by whenever you can make time.
2)    Via email: info@uauoregon.org
The ratification vote will take place via electronic ballot beginning Wednesday, June 5.  Ballots must be in by 11:59pm on Friday, June 14.  Members will receive the electronic ballot at the email address where you ordinarily receive UA updates.  If you have any problems obtaining your ballot, please immediately email info@uauoregon.org or call 541-636-4714.
If you have not yet signed a UA membership card, now is the time!  Anyone and everyone in the United Academics bargaining unit (TT, NTT, and Adjunct Faculty, Research Assistants, and Post Docs) who signs a membership card by 5pm on Wednesday, June 12 will be eligible to cast a ballot in this ratification vote.
The Constitution and Bylaws available for your review here:  http://uauoregon.org/files/2013/05/UA_Constitution_Bylaws_FINAL20130530.pdf
Below, please find a list of the highlights of our Constitution and Bylaws.
The United Academics Organizing Committee
The New Constitution for United Academics of the University of Oregon
The Constitution Committee has been tasked to carefully study numerous faculty union constitutions and bylaws, and write a Constitution and Bylaws for our new union. Here are some highlights of our Constitution and Bylaws.
I.          The Preamble states the purpose of our union which is to improve the quality of education and research at the University of Oregon by strengthening faculty voice and participation in running the University.
II.         The Fundamentals of what we are trying to establish: a strong and functional member led structure, with a flexible committee structure to address changing member needs; proportional representation with checks and balances between the elected Executive Council and the elected Representative Assembly.
III.        Structure of the union

a.         The Executive Council: Day to day operations of the union will be executed by the Executive Council. This council will have eleven officers, and the Constitution defines these positions, their responsibilities, and the functional authority of the Executive Council. In addition to the Officers and Committee Chairs on the Executive Council, there will be additional Committees responsible for carrying out various duties in service to the members of United Academics, the advancement of the goals and aims of the union, and the routine functioning of the organization.
b.         The Representative Assembly: This body functions with the legislative powers of the union. The Assembly will consist of up to 50 members and will represent members from every work unit and every employment classification in the bargaining unit. The Constitution defines the Assembly, eligibility for serving on the body, and the responsibilities of Representatives.

IV.        The Stewards  are volunteers at the department or unit level, who work with the Chair of the Organizing, Membership, and Communications Committee and the VPs for major employment classifications to communicate, organize and serve member needs at the level of departments and work units.  Often representatives will also serve as stewards, but all departments or other units who have elected a representative from a nearby department or unit could also have stewards who work with their members directly.
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30 Responses to Union constitution vote starts

  1. Anonymous says:

    All TT faculty are in the bargaining unit? That’s news to me.

    • Anonymous says:

      Where does it say that?

    • Dreamer says:

      All TT faculty are not in the bargaining unit. All law school faculty are excluded, as well as “supervisory faculty” which includes department heads, many PIs and some others.

  2. Awesome0 says:

    So if dues are a fixed cost (implied by the fact they will be smaller if our raises are larger), will they decline over time as our salaries grow? What is the total fixed amount, how much stays for our union and how much goes to fun national union bloat.

    We should realize we have bargaining power with the national unions. We are going to be their poster child for the next couple of years as they try to unionize other research univs. That fact should help us to keep the national rates lower because they need us.

    • Anonymous says:

      My guess is that we won’t be much of a poster child for long, as anyone who digs below the surface will realize the chaotic makeup of the bargaining class and will come to understand what a divisive business unionization has been.

    • UO Matters says:

      My guess is that you’re not doing anything to prevent that from happening. Posting comments on my blog doesn’t count. Sign the card and get a vote.

    • Awesome0 says:

      I signed. I hope others do to. Especially right now, is our chance to voice our opinions on how things have/are playing out. Guess I’m a little disgruntled today, but overall, a 10-15 percent raise by next fall sounds like an ok start to me.

  3. daffy duck says:

    Not sure on regular dues vs fair share, or exactly who’s in or out,but 1% is in the neighborhood of 2million. gee, even johnson hall senior administrators look cheap by that standard! no wonder the big nationals came in to raid our campus for the union ranks. surely something more along the lines of .7% should be the cap, and even that is well over a million per year. but all this is moot. now we’ve got to pay for both JH and union bosses. cheers.

    • UO Matters says:

      Huh? Total bargaining unit salaries are about $96 million. 1% of that is $960,000.

    • daffy duck says:

      mea culpa. I’m glad someone knows who is in and out (only roughly half of faculty are in bargaining unit?). based 2 mill figure on total faculty salary expenditures in 2008 of roughly 200 mill, not sure if benefits are in or out, but second-order issue. In any event, still think .7% more reasonable (just under 700k if 96 ‘mill figure is right). Isn’t PSU”s rate below .8%? surely we have even more bargaining power, as awesome argues above.

    • Anonymous says:

      Most of the folks who aren’t in the unit are department heads and PIs. As a group, they have salaries well above the unit average, so their exclusion from the unit has some disproportional statistical effects.

      When we’re deciding on appropriate dues rates, I hope we make sure to have adequate funding for a meaningful, university-wide grievance and arbitration services. That’s been sorely lacking and will require trained and committed personnel to be effective.

      I also would like to see legislative outreach adequately funded. We’ve been too isolated from Salem for too long. That’s one of the main reasons why state funding for higher education has dropped so precipitously, reliance on adjuncts and other NTTFs has steadily risen, tuition has skyrocketed, admissions standards have declined, and the university now seemingly stands on the brink of complete privatization. If we want to reverse any of these trends, we can’t count on the administration to voice our concerns. We need to invest in some professional voices to advocate for our values.

    • Anonymous says:

      Daffy Duck: “only roughly half of faculty are in bargaining unit?”

      That just isn’t true. There are ~1800 in the bargaining unit. Roughly 200 out.
      That includes all TTF and NTTF (OI and OR). Maybe you are just talking about TTF as faculty but that isn’t how we use the term around here.

    • Anonymous says:

      About 3/4 of the teaching TTF are in the union.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The unions are the only thing protecting PERS. Most of the dues will go to lobbying Salem. Ugly, but that’s reality and we have to play the game.

  5. Awesome0 says:

    Furthermore if dues really are a fixed cost, then doesn’t that create an incentive for our national reps to cave on salary issues quicker than they should because if our raises are smaller, it doesn’t affect their bottom line (our dues percentage would just increase). If anything, they just want the bargaining to end so they can start extracting their dues.

    I say fix dues at .80 and if the national unions want more money, then they better bring their A game to bargaining table and quit caving on salary issues.

    • Anonymous says:

      Negotiations are not over so how can the Union have caved on anything?

      Second, you don’t really understand how this is working. The faculty bargaining team is driving the content and timeline of the negotiations. There will be no contract until that team has decided it has done all it can do to get the best contract and then that contract is ratified by the members. The national/local reps have brought their expertise in these matters to the table but they have no agenda with regard to timelines.

      The paranoid talk about this movement being driven by national labor reps for just isn’t accurate.

    • UO Matters says:

      As regular readers know I came into this process with deep suspicions about the motives and competence of the AFT and AAUP, with an ideological perspective that is not exactly pro faculty-union.

      I’ve sat in on 92 hours of negotiations since then, and been a consultant for the union on the economic proposals.

      Mike Mauer (AAUP) and David Cecil (AFT Oregon) have *not* driven the economic proposals. The faculty bargaining team – TTF, and NTTFs, wrote them and debated them internally at length, honestly trying to come up with proposals that were fair to everyone and, I think, genuinely in the best interests of “THE UNIVERSITY”, students included. The initial proposal was essentially the same as the Lariviere proposal.

      Gottfredson’s team shit all over that proposal. The difference between the competence, fairness, and level-headedness of the union professionals, Mauer (AAUP national) and Cecil (AFT Oregon) and the incompetence, spite, and pettiness of the team the UO administration has put together is striking.

      I’m a cynic – I know that the AFT and AAUP objectives are not perfectly correlated with ours. But they’re not as far as some people want to claim. The AAUP and AFT want this process to be a model for how an AAU/Tier 1 university can unionize, and come out as a better university than it was. I think they’ve demonstrated that this is possible. Consider for example their efforts to put the UO Senate Constitution into the contract and give it legal force. That’s protection for shared governance that will make UO stronger.

      As for the UO administration, I really don’t understand what game they are playing. There are some big and fragile egos involved and some large economic incentives for Rudnick to drag it out and look tough for her next potential management clients.

      Gottfredson doesn’t seem to have any grasp of how much damage she has caused him – which of course is even more damaging.

    • Awesome0 says:

      Fair enough. I too have been impressed with the behavior I’ve seen at the table. Your point about the reputation effects is well taken, and probably bears more relevance on how they negotiate. At the same time, if there is a goal for union due amounts, I would like to have info on what that is.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Will their be an opportunity at this meeting to introduce amendments or are we being asked to vote up or down on this constitution without modification?

    • UO Matters says:

      As a committee member I am more than happy to hear about proposed changes. Please post them here or email them to me at wtharbaugh@uoregon.edu and I’ll bring them up with the committee. There will be some edits at least before it is submitted for a vote.

    • UO Matters says:

      And submit them to the union address in the announcement.

    • Anonymous says:

      Suggested amendment 1:

      Amend Article IV Section 17 to read:
      A petition signed by forty-five percent (45%) of the membership, and alleging constitutional violations, fiduciary breaches or acts clearly detrimental to the union, shall be sufficient to require the Executive Council to conduct a recall election of the officer in the petition. The Elections Committee shall supervise all aspects of the recall process.

      Justification: If 45% of members want a recall, something is seriously wrong. The Exec Council shouldn’t have the power to stop this. As written, there is no way to depose a determined Exec Council.

    • Anonymous says:

      Suggested amendment 3:

      I would like clarity on what sanctions are available to the Union against a member under the terms of Article XIV. I would also suggest amending section 2 to read:

      In the rare and unusual circumstance in which a member is accused of having taken egregious action that materially harms the union or its members, is contrary to the interests of this union or its membership, and is contrary to this constitution the union has the right to …

      Justification: As written, this section is too vague and allows for a broad interpretation of the “interests” of the union. By restricting to constitutionally defined harms we can avoid the potential for abuse.

    • Anonymous says:

      Oops, I got things out of order…
      Suggested amendment 2:

      Strike Article XI Sections 2, 3, 4. Replace with

      Any changes to the dues rate shall be recommended by the Representative Assembly and voted on by the membership. Changes to the dues rate shall require a simple majority of the voting membership to take effect. The membership shall have the right to propose amendments to the proposal and/or to propose a wholly new change to the dues rate.

      Justification: The membership ought to hold supreme authority to determine the dues, not the Representative Assembly, and certainly not the national organization. With this clause intact and un-amended we are acceding most of our economic power to the national organization. If this clause remains than I cannot, in good conscience, vote for the constitution nor be a member of the union.

    • Anonymous says:

      One more. It seems strange that the constitution will be voted on by electronic ballot but only makes provisions for mail ballots. Perhaps it can be amended to allow for mail and/or electronic ballot?

    • UO Matters says:

      I think state or federal law requires mail ballots for certain votes, not for others.

  7. Anonymous says:

    This may be the moment when the large number of faculty who have been trying to ignore this whole business wake up and realize what is being imposed on them. If we get, say, a 3% raise, then half will go to the union, and given that we would likely have gotten a raise of at least 2% more than a year ago without the unionization initiative, it doesn’t make higher math skills to realize that we’re ending up behind on the monetary front. And for that cut we get a system that widens and deepens the faculty-administration divide. Not exactly a happy moment for those of us in the trenches spending our time on research, writing, and teaching.

    • UO Matters says:

      Gottfredson’s initial proposal was for 3.5% raises. After 6 months of tough bargaining with an obstinate administration intent on padding their reserves and blowing money on their own stupid pet projects, the union has already talked him up to 10%, all effective by Sept 2014. And given what the union has been able to learn about UO finances and reserves that is likely to go up further. The admin’s counter is due on Tuesday.

    • Awesome0 says:

      To be clear, the original proposal was for 5.0 percent (1.5 percent retro, 1.5 COLA 2014, 2 percent merit 2014) for FY 2014 only. The counter offer from the admin kept that part the same, but added a 5 percent raised for FY15 (3.5 merit, 1.5 COLA).

      The admin hasn’t yet budged on those proposal in their counterproposal, all they have done is add in another 1.5 COLA for FY2015, and added another 3.5 merit pool for FY2015. I’m really interested and hopefully to see the admin actually move any of their original proposal numbers, because up until now, they haven’t budged (they just included an additional year from the original salary adjustment proposal).

  8. Wombat says:

    Can someone explain section 2: ” in
    its members?”
    and the resulting ” member
    sanctioned by

    What “actions” and what sanctions? It sounds ominous, though I’m sure it’s not intended to. But: why would I agree to giving this group this power? (And thanks, UOM, for the link to the constitution, but could someone create a real PDF document instead of this crappy scan that I can’t even copy and paste properly from?)

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