Chronicle on unionization of adjuncts

12/15/2009: The Chronicle has a long article on the increase in the unionization of adjunct faculty:

Aware that adjuncts are finding reasons for wanting to organize, unions are wooing them—in no small part because the numbers of tenure-track faculty members that can be added to union rolls is shrinking. “If you’re going to organize faculty, you’ve got to organize contingent faculty,” says Mr. Berry. “They’re the majority of the faculty now.” … Since the middle of last year, the American Federation of Teachers has organized eight contingent faculty unions, representing more than 4,000 instructors (not including graduate students and postdocs). … Although adjuncts are “receptive to unionization,” Ms. Bannan says, “the hard work is in identifying them.” Adjuncts are often poorly counted by administrations and are difficult to round up because they often go from campus to campus to work. Once organizers get beyond that barrier, says Mr. Berry, the labor specialist at Urbana-Champaign, “it’s never difficult to convince contingent faculty to join a union. Getting to an election is basically a matter of finding the people.”

UO faculty suspected of "Attempted unionization"

The union campaign has already had one positive effect – the administration’s new use of “Colleagues” as the salutation in their periodic emails to the faculty, instead of their customary “You unorganized grabastic pieces of amphibian shit”.

I can’t understand why the Provost left UO Matters off his list of approved websites though – aren’t you supposed to be neutral, Jim?

Actually, his http://hr.uoregon.edu/er/unionization/ site has some good basic info, check it out.

From: UO Provost Update
Subject: Attempted unionization
Date: Dec 3, 2009 8:59:44 PST
Reply-To: provost@uoregon.edu

Colleagues

In our continuing efforts to bring you information regarding attempted unionization of faculty and unclassified employees at UO we have constructed a website at: http://hr.uoregon.edu/er/unionization/

The website currently contains more information on who is affected in these unionization efforts and a summary of the overall process. It will be updated regularly with new information and communications.

Unions are required by law to submit annual financial reports and constitutions to the Department of Labor, which makes them available to the public. We have placed recent annual financial statements and constitutions of AAUP and AFT on the site above.

Other websites you may find valuable are:
http://oregon.gov/ERB/rules.shtml
http://www.psuaaup.net
http://or.aft.org/000070
http://www.psufa.org

Regards, Jim

Not enough state money – or too many expensive administrators?

12/7/2009: Interesting op-ed from insidehighered.com on the UC systems troubles. The claim is that the universities are exaggerating the extent of the problem:

Even with the revelation that many of the top earners are administrators and that there are now more administrators in the UC system than faculty members, many tenured professors have sided with the administration because it is much easier to attack the state for all of the UC’s problems. By blaming the state and the anti-tax Republicans, there is a clear enemy and an easy narrative. Moreover, by placing the onus of responsibility on the state, the university does not have to look at its own internal problems.

Sound familiar? It’s worth a read. The author is a UC faculty member and union leader.

OPB interview with Oregon Attorney General Kroger and UO Professor

12/5/2009: The OPB show “Think Out Loud” is doing a show Monday on the subject of access to public records. This is about AG Kroger’s new “Government Transparency” Initiative. Among other important reforms Kroger has appointed DOJ lawyer Michael Kron as “Government Transparency Counsel”. Kron’s job responsibilities include ensuring that UO Counsel Melinda Grier obeys the public records law. He will be a busy guy. The show will feature a discussion with Attorney General John Kroger and a UO Professor with considerable experience extracting public records from UO, and I am pretty sure it airs at 9 AM, or at least that’s when they told me to be in the studio.

Bonine v. Grier

12/4/2009: This brief from UO law professor John Bonine to President Lariviere takes on UO General Counsel Melinda Grier and her claim that the faculty’s role in university governance is limited to student discipline and the curriculum. Quoting,

It is important that the University Senate, members of the ad hoc Internal Governance Committee, and individual faculty members understand the legal basis for and extent of the faculty’s role in university governance. The letter from the university president’s General Counsel mischaracterizes both. In this memorandum I shall explain its errors. …

Of even greater importance, the letter completely fails to cite the statutory grant of authority to the faculty that is contained in ORS 352.010. Following that failure, the letter asserts that the faculty’s authority “is not stated in detail” and “is not well-defined.” Combined, the letter gives an impression of the faculty’s role in governance that is quite misleading, as will be explained in the next sections of this memorandum. …

To an incorrect premise—that the statutory basis for the faculty’s authority is undefined while the president’s is plenary—the letter adds another premise without explanation or support. It asserts that “historically the faculty’s authority has been over the curriculum and the discipline of the students.”3 This limited view is also in error, as will be explained below. …

President Lariviere, it’s time to get a new General Counsel, and John Bonine should be on the hiring committee.

Questions for President Lariviere?

12/3/2009: The Oregon Public Broadcasting show “Think Out Loud” did an interview with President Lariviere today. You can listen to the interview and see questions here. (Click on the > arrow to start.)

Also, CJ Ciaramella has this story in the ODE, about UO accountability to the state. “I would like this faculty to come up with a set of metrics that will be meaningful to the average person and help them see how we’re doing,” Lariviere said. See our previous post “WTF? Ignorant anti-tax Texans vote to increase funding for research universities” for an example of how this actually has worked in Texas.

AG John Kroger announces "Government Transparency" initiative

12/2/2009: Oregonian, RG, Jack Bog. This is – potentially – a very significant step towards the reform of Oregon’s public records process, and a nightmare for UO General Counsel Melinda Grier and her efforts to limit access to UO’s public records. From the ODOJ press release:

Attorney General John Kroger today announced a broad plan to improve government transparency in Oregon. “A democracy cannot properly function without strong open government laws,” said Attorney General Kroger. “We’ve implemented some immediate reforms that will improve transparency in state government. But I’m also committed to far greater changes.” Immediate changes include: Putting the 2008 Attorney General’s Manual on Public Records and Public Meetings online. Until now, the manual has been exclusively available in a hard copy at a cost of $25. Free online access will significantly increase its usefulness. … Attorney General Kroger also has created the Government Transparency Counsel, a new position in the Department of Justice designed to ensure that state government properly complies with state transparency laws.

The online PR manual appears to be the direct consequence of pressure from a UO Professor who “illegally” posted the manual online, and from Carl Malamud at Public Resource. Kroger has abandoned his efforts to claim copyright to this manual. The new “Government Transparency Counsel” (Michael Kron) has a great title and we hope will have the authority to overrule Melinda Grier’s efforts to keep public records from the public. We certainly intend to find out!

Union Survey Results

Complete results from the recent survey of UO tenure track and tenured faculty about the proposed AAUP/AFT faculty/instructor/administrator union are posted here. Of 681 faculty surveyed 221 made some response. What does it all mean? Here are some basic tabs, more later. Out of 218 responses:

and out of 170 responses, multiple categories OK:

You can comment here.

Crippleware for UO accounting transparency

11/29/2009: We’ve written before about UO Senate efforts to increase transparency by providing a way for faculty to see how the UO spends money. These efforts were motivated by general tendency of the administration to hide spending info from the faculty, and more particularly by claims by Provost Bean that UO’s admin expenses were 38% of our peers, that we were making money on the Bend programs, and by a OUS audit that found former Provost Moseley was improperly using expense money for personal travel. The motion (which passed easily, after someone said “You are asking us to take furloughs. We deserve to know how you are spending our money.”) stated:

The University Senate respectfully requests the University of Oregon Administration to establish a publicly accessible, on-line budget reporting system at the University of Oregon by 15 November 2009 that will allow users to track current and retroactive individual university expenditures as is currently done at our sister institution Oregon State University on their budget reporting website.

Frances Dyke’s office has now put up a reporting system, which any faculty member can use from their Duckweb account, under the faculty menu. However, it is crippleware. You cannot track individual university expenditures, as the motion calls for and as the OSU system easily allows. The closest you can get is annual summaries of expenses and sources, at a very aggregated level. In addition to not being transparent, this is not very useful – for example you can’t use it to check your grant or ASA balances.

The FAC is meeting this week to discuss this issue. There’s no reason UO can’t do what OSU did more than a year ago now –  unless there is something to hide?