Union on UO’s financial condition

2/17/2011: The union organizers have dropped the OA’s from their proposed bargaining unit and if they have any sense they will also drop the part-time NTTF’s – who have very different interests than the faculty and full-time NTTFs. So maybe it’s time to start taking the union seriously. This event should show what support AFT/AAUP could provide in a bargaining session between a UO faculty union and Frances Dyke.

The Financial Condition of the University of Oregon: Examining Revenues, Expenses, and Priorities

When: Thursday, February 17th
3 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Where: 115 Lawrence

Many in the UO community have concerns about the University’s priorities, but understanding those priorities requires following the money. This is what financial analyst and Accounting Professor Howard Bunsis does. The results may surprise many of us and raise additional questions about the university’s revenue streams and trends in expenditures, and whether they express the best interests of faculty, students, and staff at a premier research university. Is it fiscally necessary and socially responsible to drive tuition ever higher? Are the UO’s finances and strategic reserves really so precarious that employee compensation must drag the bottom when compared with other AAU institutions? Professor Bunsis has analyzed institutional budgets for dozens of individual universities and systems across the country, and he has provided expert testimony to legislatures and in collective bargaining arbitrations. Join us for his multi-year analysis of the UO’s finances, a discussion of their implications for UO’s mission and status as a top-flight research institution.

new paper on unions, deals with endogeneity

11/16/2010: This adds some credibility to the argument for unionization. From Peter Schmidt in the Chronicle. The paper itself is here. I’m no economist, but the story quotes Ron Ehrenberg, a very respected one from Cornell: “This is a serious study, and very well done.”

Unions Hold Mostly Pluses for Faculties at Public Colleges, Study Finds

When faculty members discuss unionizing, the debate tends to revolve around the question of whether so banding together gives them more say over their college’s affairs or actually leaves them worse off, by hurting their ability to work cooperatively with their institution’s administration. A new study of public four-year colleges concludes that unionizing appears to give faculty members considerably more clout in some key areas and does not seem to do them much harm.

Unionization “greatly increases faculty influence” over faculty salary scales, individual faculty salaries, and the appointments of academic department heads and of members of institutionwide committees, concludes a paper summarizing the study’s findings.

The study also found at least some evidence that unionization gave college faculty members more say over their institution’s curriculum and faculty teaching loads. Unionization was found not to have a significant impact on several other key areas of college operations, such as the appointment of faculty members, tenure and promotion decisions, and policies dealing with degree requirements. …

 

Union event

11/7/2010: The union organizers send along this announcement: This Monday, United Academics will host events featuring Professor Joan DelFattore of the University of Delaware.  Joan DelFattore is a Professor of English and Legal Studies at the University of Delaware.  She is the author of  Knowledge in the Making:  Academic Freedom and Free Speech in America’s Schools and Universities  (Yale University Press, 2010).

10:00AM – 11:00 AM Alsea Room (on the main level of the EMU)
“Strengthening Shared Governance and  Enforcing Policy and Procedures Through Collective
Bargaining”

3:00PM – 5:00 PM Browsing Room, Knight Library
“Protecting Shared Governance and Academic Freedom Through  Collective Bargaining”

BGSU faculty unionizes

10/22/2010: From the Chronicle:

Faculty of Bowling Green State U. Votes in Favor of Union Representation

By Audrey Williams June

Faculty members at Bowling Green State University have voted in favor of union representation in an election that administrators at the Ohio institution had campaigned heavily against. About 85 percent of eligible faculty members voted by mail, and the unofficial results—391 for, 293 against—were announced on Wednesday. The new collective-bargaining unit, which will be affiliated with the American Association of University Professors, will cover 800 full-time faculty members, including those who work outside the tenure track. …

I wonder if their administration also signed a double-secret $25,000 contract with a labor relations firm for help “conveying relevant and factually accurate information” about unionization to the faculty? See below for our post from June, on UO’s attempt to do this:

$25,000 to oppose union, $0 to evaluate administrators

6/9/2010: In November, UO VP for Finance Frances Dyke signed a secret contract with labor relations consultant Stan McKnight for $25,000 to develop UO’s website responding to a faculty unionization effort from the AAUP/AFT. UO kept the contract secret until May, when the GTTF union found out about it. At that point UO fessed up, posted the contract and work description here and ended the deal.

The official line is that the $300 an hour consulting fee was not for advice on how to “oppose the union” – that would be illegal under Oregon law – instead it was for help “conveying relevant and factually accurate information” to the UO faculty. Which explains why the administration tried to keep the contract secret, to the point of including a nonstandard confidentiality clause preventing McKnight from even disclosing the existence of a contract:

Because you don’t want to give the faculty factually accurate information about who is giving the faculty factually accurate information. The contract was limited to $25,000 because OUS rules require a public posting on the OUS procurement website for contracts more than that. Clever. Too clever. Dumb. But it should make a good case study for Melinda Grier’s labor law class.

The saddest part of this is that the McKnight firm is not exactly the Pinkerton Agency. McKnight’s main business is consulting on evaluations of university administrators. Standard stuff for any well managed institution. They survey the faculty and staff, collect ratings of effectiveness, strengths and weaknesses, then write up an independent evaluation explaining what is being done well, areas for improvement, and so on. Now that’s something I’d be willing to see UO pay $25,000 for. I’ve been here a long time, and UO has never performed this basic good management practice for its top administrators. Not even once. Because they are scared of what they will hear and are afraid it would make it harder to justify giving each other raises. And they wonder why there is support for a union?

Union organizers reorganize

6/24/2010: From the union website:  
United academics of the UO in the pursuit of forming a union for campus faculty have hired new staff to accelerate and capitalize on the growing support on the campus. David Cecil has been hired at United Academics as the lead organizer. Cecil has been the organizer for the Graduate Teachers Fellows Federation for many years. After developing a working relationship with the university through the GTFF, Cecil brings that experience to the campaign to organize the university faculty.

David Cecil seems to be the guy who dug up the $300 per hour UO contract with the anti-union consultants. $24,999.99 invoices here.

$25,000 to oppose union, $0 to evaluate administrators

6/9/2010: In November, UO VP for Finance Frances Dyke signed a secret contract with labor relations consultant Stan McKnight for $25,000 to develop UO’s website responding to a faculty unionization effort from the AAUP/AFT. UO kept the contract secret until May, when the GTTF union found out about it. At that point UO fessed up, posted the contract and work description here and ended the deal.

The official line is that the $300 an hour consulting fee was not for advice on how to “oppose the union” – that would be illegal under Oregon law – instead it was for help “conveying relevant and factually accurate information” to the UO faculty. Which explains why the administration tried to keep the contract secret, to the point of including a nonstandard confidentiality clause preventing McKnight from even disclosing the existence of a contract:

Because you don’t want to give the faculty factually accurate information about who is giving the faculty factually accurate information. The contract was limited to $25,000 because OUS rules require a public posting on the OUS procurement website for contracts more than that. Clever. Too clever. Dumb. But it should make a good case study for Melinda Grier’s labor law class.

The saddest part of this is that the McKnight firm is not exactly the Pinkerton Agency. McKnight’s main business is consulting on evaluations of university administrators. Standard stuff for any well managed institution. They survey the faculty and staff, collect ratings of effectiveness, strengths and weaknesses, then write up an independent evaluation explaining what is being done well, areas for improvement, and so on. Now that’s something I’d be willing to see UO pay $25,000 for. I’ve been here a long time, and UO has never performed this basic good management practice for its top administrators. Not even once. Because they are scared of what they will hear and are afraid it would make it harder to justify giving each other raises. And they wonder why there is support for a union?

How did this $25,000 contract come to light? Apparently UO lied to the GTFF during negotiations and those ever curious grad students got suspicious and dug it up. Good work. No word yet on how much UO will pay for advice on how to minimize the damage from UO having to tell the faculty that they had been hiding the existence of this contract, or on how much UO will pay for advice on how to minimize the damage from having to tell the faculty that they had to pay a consultant to tell them how to minimize the damage from having to …

6/10 Update: A senior UO professor now leaving for another university sends us these extracts of past Senate meeting minutes on previous efforts to make UO administrators take the requirement for annual evaluations seriously. He says the last time faculty were surveyed for their opinion on a top administrator was for President Myles Brand’s 3 year review. Frohnmayer put an end to that business.

Senate union survey (w/ update from Senate)

5/14/2010: The union organizers are saying that it was possible to make multiple responses to the Senate Exec Committee poll via the email link that was sent, so long as you used computers with different IP addresses, and that this is one reason they discount the results. (My own faculty poll did not allow this.)

In response the Senate folks tell us:

“it is true that multiple responses could have been submitted by the same person if different computers with different IP addresses were used. This caveat was included in the cover letter sent out with the survey results. We trusted the honesty and good will of our colleagues not to subvert the survey by submitting multiple responses, and we have no evidence that this occurred or that the survey results were skewed as a result.”

We now have results from two polls on the union. Both have their faults but both find clear overall opposition from the faculty. The union claims they have their own polls, finding lots of support. But they will not show us the results. Presumably they wouldn’t be funding this expensive campaign without some hope, but I don’t see what it is.

Union survey

5/10/2010: Greg Bolt of the RG has a story on the Senate census of opinions on a union. Some people say this was “unscientific”. In this context this typically means a sample that is biased towards one group, therefore with results that are problematic for making unbiased estimates of population responses. But this poll was of the whole population of interest, not a sample, and therefore it is not unscientific in the sense used in the story. Responses, of course, could still be from a biased sample. With about a 50% response (higher for the faculty) this problem may be present but is much less severe than in most polls, many of which have 20% response rates or lower. Given the high response rate and how strong the results are against the union, the organizers have to take the results seriously. The union is not even close to having the level of support among faculty and OA’s needed to win an election and they will not try.

Sentiment on campus has changed. I think the faculty that brought this union effort to campus and worked very hard on it deserve a lot of credit for that change. I’m guessing Provost Bean is not going to credit it as “university service” when it comes time for raises, but he should! The administration realized that this was a serious organizing effort, and in response they cut down a bit on the lies and arrogance – we haven’t heard Bean’s 38% claim for a while – and they finally committed to a plan that will redirect some of our new tuition money away from themselves and back towards the faculty. Here’s hoping they don’t go right back to business as usual, now that this threat is removed.

A Union is not going to happen

5/3/2010: The results of the Senate survey on unionization are here. The comments on the survey are also posted and are worth reading. The response rate is higher than the previous UO Matters survey, and the results are very clear:

The tenure track faculty are opposed more than 2 to 1.
The OA’s are opposed more than 3 to 1.
The NTTIF (Instructors) are in favor more than 2 to 1. (but low response)

I’ll make a bold prediction: The AFT/AAUP organizers will leave campus soon. The Union idea is dead, except perhaps among the NTTIF’s. I would argue they are getting the shaft and probably should have a Union. But realistically are unlikely to benefit much because they have low bargaining power even as a group. So what happened? The union organization was not too good and there was some internal dissension. But mainly I think people decided Lariviere was not just all hat.

That said I think the union scared the shit out of the administration and has reduced the level of arrogance and contempt we’ve been getting from them. The faculty who worked long and hard on this had an effect, and they should be praised for getting involved and trying to improve UO.

Union

I just glanced at the administration’s updated info site, at http://hr.uoregon.edu/er/unionization/index.html It’s a hodgepodge – different info about their take on the dues in different places. Does anyone know why the union organizers are so quiet? I heard they are busy hitting up the OAs?

The Union site is here, the Faculty survey on unionization here.

Still no action from Lariviere on salary issues, and I’m guessing after the Bellotti fiasco that’s going to be a real hard sell to the state.

April 9, 2010

MEMORANDUM

TO:        University Community

FROM:        Linda King, Associate Vice President for Human Resources

SUBJECT:    MORE INFORMATION ON UNION ORGANIZING WEBSITE

We have updated and revised the website on union organizing for faculty, researchers and officers of administration.  I hope that you will take the time to visit the site and review the information:   http://hr.uoregon.edu/er/unionization/index.html

New Union info:

3/26/2010: It’s been a while since we heard much from the OA/Faculty Union folks, but recently they have posted 3 informative pieces on their website. These deal with three of the more controversial issues: merit pay, shared governance, and what will happen if the union includes faculty and OA’s. From the Union website:

Examples of How Merit Pay is Treated in Collective Bargaining Agreements. Many Collective Bargaining Contracts preserve merit pay as was documented in the book Managed Professionals; Unionized Faculty and Restructuring Academic Labor by AAUP General Secretary Gary Rhoades. In this article by Craig Flanery, AAUP Senior Program Officer, examples of how merit pay is treated in several contracts are given. The institutions cited have AAUP or AAUP/AFT as their Collective Bargaining (CB) agents. Flanery also includes language in the contracts about sharing salary information for salary studies. To view the article click here.
Examples of How Shared Governance is Treated in Collective Bargaining Agreements
This article, created by Craig Flanery, AAUP Senior Program Officer, gives several examples of how shared governance is treated in collective bargaining contracts. To view or download the file click here.
This article discusses who is included in the collective bargaining unit at SUNY Buffalo, SUNY Stony Brook, Rutgers University, and the University of Florida.