Union?

3/2/2010: We haven’t heard much about the union lately. There are now 4 union organizers on campus, and given that the card check period lasts 3 months, if they are going to try for an election this academic year I would think they would want to start soon.

This editorial from the University of New Hampshire student paper is pretty angry about a threatened faculty strike:

The emerging story in today’s issue revolves around dormant talks between the university administration and the UNH chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). The AAUP even ran an advertisement in today’s paper announcing that the university’s summer term could be in jeopardy if an agreement is not reached.

“The UNH faculty union will boycott the 2010 summer session if a contract settlement with the UNH administration is not reached prior to the final scheduling of courses,” the advertisement writes. “A similar boycott was undertaken in 1997, resulting in a significant reduction in the number of summer courses taught. In addition, some courses that were offered were staffed by under qualified instructors. For that reason, we strongly recommend that students investigate summer course offerings at other institutions well in advance.”

The advertisement reads like an ultimatum. It shows no respect for students. It casually tells them to find another institution if they still want to take summer courses. It tries to say this boycott is OK because it happened once before in 1997.

The only conclusion we can draw from this advertisement is that the AAUP has lost its way. It has veered out of control and forgotten its place. University professors are hired to teach students. That’s it. To fight over mere percentage points with the university about how much of a raise they deserve is childish and, quite frankly, offensive to students who want to use their summer vacation to further their education.    

I’m not sure I like that bit at the end – if UNH is like UO, the problem is that the senior administrators have absolutely no problem taking as much money as they can for themselves. We get more students they hire more administrators – not more faculty. We get paid 85% of PhD granting averages, they get 100%. If they want more they just raise tuition, freeze faculty salaries, and furlough the staff.  For example, the UO President’s budget has gone from $2.0 million in 2008 to $3.3 million this year. The growth in the Provost’s budget is even larger. Then there’s the $600,000 or so for the new “President Emeritus” salary and office.  Many more examples are out there. So is the faculty supposed to roll over?

AAUP troubles?

2/26/2010: Insidehighered.com has a story on troubles with AAUP union voting procedures. The AAUP and the AFT are jointly sponsoring the UO OA/Faculty union organizing effort:

WASHINGTON — An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor has forced the American Association of University Professors to redo last year’s election for the position of chair of the Assembly of State Conferences (which consists of all of the state AAUP bodies). The department found that the association did not follow proper procedures in the election it held last year.
 …
The Labor Department’s interest in the AAUP’s elections has also been of concern to the United University Professions, the faculty union of the State University of New York, which is affiliated with both the AAUP and the American Federation of Teachers.
At the UUP’s convention this month, a proposal was made to disaffiliate with the AAUP. The motion was tabled, pending a review by UUP leaders. A spokeswoman for the UUP said that one of the issues of concern was whether the Labor Department’s scrutiny of the AAUP’s election practices might extend in ways that would lead to challenges of election practices of the UUP.

Union info Town Hall

2/8/2010: I thought the Town Hall was pretty informative. Thanks to Tublitz for arranging it and also to the speakers. The audience asked some good questions.

One commentator notes – I think correctly – that it was unbalanced, in that there was no anti-union speaker from the faculty. I don’t think this was intentional. As the survey showed, many faculty are strongly opposed to unionization. I’ve heard a little talk about faculty organizing to coordinate on this, but there is not going to be any passion behind it until Lariviere shows he is going to clear out the administrative deadwood. You’ve been on campus since May – so, any time soon would be good Richard, OK?

My favorite moment was probably when Assistant GC Doug Park ($105,000), speaking for the administration, tried to unearth Jimmy Hoffa by telling us that Union Presidents are paid “many hundreds of thousands of dollars” from union dues. Trust me Doug, you don’t want to go there. UO President Richard Lariviere’s contract pays him $540,000 plus house (and extensive remodeling to suit), car, retirement, paid sabbatical, expense account, etc. And he negotiated the creation of a new $135,300 job for his wife – no search. We’re up to about $750,000. Provost Jim Bean – also hired without a search – gets $320,000 or so.  Meanwhile we’re still paying Frohnmayer $245,700, plus secretary, co-teacher, GTF, expenses. Let’s call it $350,000. (Hilariously, Frohnmayer has now quit the voluntary furlough program that he and Bean started and tried to sucker the faculty into.) None of these people have the moral fiber to stop paying former Provost John Moseley $124,000, plus expenses, to do nothing in Bend. Even after the OUS auditor gave them perfect cover. All those fat paychecks come out of money that should be spent on academics. So clean up your own house first. Oh yeah – for the record, the highest paid AAUP employee got $132,793 last year.

Another highlight was when former Senate President Gordon Sayre called Melinda Grier ($184,710) a liar, over her bizarre claim that faculty aren’t required to do research. OK, I am paraphrasing here a bit, but not much. The fact that Lariviere repeatedly lets Grier get away with this behavior is pretty telling about his respect for the faculty – if you go by what he does, not what he says. Actually, she will probably take this to him and get another performance raise.

Another bit of revealing info came when someone asked what the administration was doing to address the concerns that have driven the faculty to consider unionization. (I think they were refering to the UO Matters survey.) Long awkward silence, ending with something about Russ Tomlin planning to do something soon. I am not pro union, but at this rate “our colleagues in the administration” are going to drive me to it quick.
 
We also learned there are about 1000 nonsupervisory OA’s, 800 tenure track faculty, 300 adjuncts and instructors with >= 0.5 FTE, and 300 Officers of Research. Actually, AVP for Human Resources Linda King ($146,815) didn’t know these numbers. Sort of reminded me of the Furlough town hall, where VP for Finance Francis Dyke didn’t know how much the UO payroll was. What do these people know?

If the union gets 30% to sign petition cards supporting the union, then the ERB calls a vote-by-mail election. The union needs 50% + 1 of those who vote in that election to be recognized as the sole bargaining authority for those in the unit. The ERB certification for WOU was decided after an election, see here. But if the Union gets 50% of the cards – as they did for Klamath CC, the ERB could certify the union immediately, see here.

Given these numbers, and given that the OA’s seem solidly behind this, I really don’t see how the union organizers can fail. So the administration will then go to the ERB and try to carve the faculty off from the OA’s. That seems difficult given the state ERB rules and precedents but not impossible, if the faculty remain opposed. Provost Bean has said he will resign if the faculty go union. It’s a really tempting offer! But my guess is that we’ll be sinking a lot of time into these politics, for a long time to come.

Supposing we do get a union what will it mean? Probably a lot more to the OA’s and the adjuncts/instructors than to the faculty. The story I hear from UF and SUNY is that faculty can still bargain for retention and merit raises with their Dean. Clearly there is money set aside for that in those university’s current contracts.

The union people have recently updated their website with info on likely dues and links to other research universities with unions. The UO Admin’s website is here.

Town Hall on Unionization, Friday 3-5 PM, 180 PLC

2/4/2010: We asked the Town Hall speakers for a summary of their planned remarks. We got some thoughtful comments from Gordon Sayre.

Remarks: Gordon Sayre, English (and former Senate Pres):

Summarizing, Sayre says that he believes the strongest argument for unionization is salaries, and he cites the 10-year-old Senate white paper on this as evidence. Frohnmayer claimed he supported the White Paper, repeatedly said it was his highest priority for UO, (Ed: and then ignored it for 10 years while tripling his own pay.) Without a union the faculty had no recourse. Sayre also argues that faculty and OA’s have common cause over benefits, and says unionization will not end merit increases. Finally, he makes a strong case for the importance of unionization in faculty governance, citing recent attacks on the role and rights of the faculty, particularly by UO General Counsel Melinda Grier.

Remarks: UO Administration:

Resources: 

The UO Matters faculty survey results are here.

The current SUNY contract (Stony Brook and Buffalo?) is available here. It provides minimum salaries by rank and grade, requires the administration to set aside certain additional percentages of the total salary expenditure each year for additional raises, and specifically states “§20.12 Nothing contained herein shall prevent the University, in its discretion, from granting further upward salary adjustments of individual employees.” I don’t know how this works in practice, but I’ve heard from one person that there is no problem making merit and retention raises. Here’s a flyer on the University of Florida contract.

While the UO administration page on Union info seems intentionally written to lead you to think dues would likely be on the order of 2.1% of salary, the SUNY faculty union dues are 1% of salary. University of Florida dues? Also 1%. When will the UO administrators learn that trying to fool the faculty is a dumb idea – particularly when they are so bad at it? Their history of this – which Lariviere is apparently unwilling to address – is one of the strongest arguments for a union. It sure ain’t  the free turkey.

People have been asking me if this post means I’m pro union. I’m not, but I’m am pro information, and at the moment the union people seem considerably more transparent and honest than the UO administration.

Town Hall meeting on unionization, 3-5 Friday, 180 PLC

2/3/2010: UO Matters has asked the speakers for a brief description of remarks, we will post what we receive Thursday. We’ve heard from many people who are planning on attending this meeting.

Dear Colleagues:

This is a gentle reminder that there will be a University Senate-organized town hall meeting on unionization this Friday (Feb 5th) in PLC 180 from 3-5pm. The meeting will begin with short presentations by 4 panelists (Doug Park, University Counsel’s Office; Linda King, Associate VP for Human Resources; Mike Tedesco, local labor attorney and adjunct law professor; and Gordon Sayre, Professor of English and United Academics representative). The panel presentations will be followed by an audience question and answer period.

Unionization is one of the most important issues to come before the University in many years. The purpose of the town hall is to provide non-partisan information on this subject. All University community members are warmly welcomed to attend and participate.

Nathan Tublitz
Professor of Biology
University Senate President

Next Friday: Senate and FAC union info town hall

Note: The Union organizing committee will be represented on the panel by Prof Gordon Sayre, English.

The University Senate, in consultation with the Faculty Advisory Council, is sponsoring a non-partisan, informational town hall meeting on unionization on Friday February 5th at 3-5pm in PLC180. The goal of this meeting is to provide information on the unionization process. The meeting will consist of short presentations by 3 speakers: Doug Park, Assistant University General Counsel; Linda King, Associate Vice President for Human Resources; and, Michael Tedesco, adjunct professor of law and private lawyer. Following their presentations, there will be a question and answer period from the audience.  All campus community members are warmly encouraged to attend.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact any of us.

Sincerely,

Nathan Tublitz
University Senate President

Barbara Altmann
Chair, Faculty Advisory Council

union

1/19/2010: Someone has posted a few comments on the union – which we haven’t heard much about lately. You can add your own here.

Anonymous said…

UAUO seems to be basing much of their appeal to faculty on the fact that UO faculty salaries fall below comparator institutions. That led me to wonder if our union-represented colleagues at other institutions are faring better. Apparently not. The PSU-AAUP blog decries the fact that those faculty also are at the bottom of their list of comparator institutions – and they pay union dues. Not a very compelling argument in favor of unionization. See: http://www.psuaaup.net/blog/2009/04/how-is-psu-faculty-doing.html
 
This statement appeared on the PSU-AAUP Labor Blog (http://www.psuaaup.net/blog/labels/bargaining.html): “There is no doubt that it would be advantageous for the Oregon University System, which controls negotiations with PSU faculty, to do what it can — in a union-busting sort of way — to make certain that UO and OSU faculty are perceived to suffer less than PSU faculty, especially since organizing efforts are currently being made on those campuses.” Seems like a strong argument against unionization…

Christmas edition: Why we need a union

AERONCA, INC., Petitioner,
v.
NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD, Respondent.
Argued May 7, 1981.
Decided June 4, 1981

James K. L. Lawrence, Cincinnati (George E. Yund, Frost & Jacobs, Cincinnati, Ohio, John R. Wester, Charlotte, N. C. (Fleming, Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson, Charlotte, N. C., on brief), for petitioner.
Judith Ann Dowd, N. L. R. B., Washington, D. C. (William A. Lubbers, Gen. Counsel, John E. Higgins, Jr., Deputy Gen. Counsel, Robert E. Allen, Acting Associate Gen. Counsel, Elliott Moore, Deputy Associate Gen. Counsel, John D. Burgoyne, Asst. Gen. Counsel, Washington, D. C., on brief), for respondent.
Before HAYNSWORTH, Senior Circuit Judge, ERVIN, Circuit Judge, and RAMSEY*, District Judge.
HAYNSWORTH, Senior Circuit Judge:
Aeronca, Inc. petitions for review and the Board cross-applies for enforcement of the Board’s order and finding that the company violated § 8(a)(1) and (5) of the Act by unilaterally discontinuing its practice of giving its employees Christmas turkeys. Because we find that the union waived the company’s duty to bargain about discontinuance of the turkey bonus, we deny enforcement of the Board’s order.
Since at least 1952 the company had maintained a practice of giving each employee, including managers and supervisors, a Christmas turkey. The practice continued after the union was certified in 1974 as the exclusive bargaining representative of the company’s production and maintenance employees.

The parties’ first collective bargaining agreement included a broad zipper clause1 and an arbitration clause.
At the beginning of negotiations for the 1976 collective bargaining agreement, the union submitted a 72-page contract proposal. The union proposed the addition of a maintenance-of-benefits provision2  and a corresponding modification of the zipper clause. The company objected to the length of the proposal, and union representatives subsequently caucused to reduce its length. The turkey bonus was mentioned during that caucus, but the union decided to drop the maintenance-of-benefits provision because the employees had regularly received the turkeys. In the protracted negotiations that followed, the turkey bonus was never mentioned, and without discussion the zipper clause was carried over verbatim from the prior contract and the proposed maintenance-of-benefits provision was not included.

In December 1976 poor financial conditions prompted the company to institute a general austerity program. As part of that program, the company decided to discontinue the turkey bonus. When the employees were not given turkeys on Christmas 1977, the union filed a grievance. The company did not consider the turkey bonus a grievable matter, but submitted to arbitration when the union filed the present unfair labor practice charge and the Board’s regional director informed the company that a complaint would issue if the company refused to arbitrate.

After a hearing the arbitrator denied the union’s turkey bonus grievance. The Board then proceeded on the General Counsel’s complaint. It concluded that the arbitrator’s decision did not meet the standards of the Spielberg3 doctrine and thus did not warrant deference. On the merits, the Board concluded that the union had not waived its right to bargain over the discontinuance of the turkey bonus.
We need not decide whether the Board abused its discretion in declining to defer to the arbitrator’s decision, because the Board’s decision on the merits is inconsistent with our holding in NLRB v. Southern Materials Co., 447 F.2d 15 (4th Cir. 1971). It is sought to distinguish this case from Southern Materials and the relevant Board precedents4 on the ground that Aeronca continued the Christmas turkey bonuses after having entered the first agreement with the union. We find this an insufficient basis for not following our earlier precedent. The first contract did not obligate the employer to give the Christmas turkeys, and the negotiations leading up to the second one clearly indicate a union abandonment of any attempt to make giving of the turkeys obligatory.

Enforcement of the Board’s order is denied.

ENFORCEMENT DENIED.

* Honorable Norman P. Ramsey, United States District Judge for the District of Maryland, sitting by designation
1 The parties acknowledge that during the negotiations which resulted in this agreement each had the unlimited right and opportunity to make demands and proposals with respect to any subject or matter not removed by law from the area of collective bargaining, and that the understandings and agreements arrived at by the parties after the exercise of that right and opportunity are set forth in this Agreement. Therefore, the Company and the Union, for the life of this Agreement, each voluntarily and unqualifiedly waives the right, and each agrees that the other shall not be obligated to bargain collectively with respect to any subject or matter referred to or covered in this Agreement, or with respect to any subject or matter not specifically referred to or covered in this Agreement, even though such subject or matter may not have been within the knowledge or contemplation of either or both of the parties at the time that they negotiated or signed this Agreement
2 The provision stated that “any and all benefits that the employees and/or Union are now receiving which are not specified in this Agreement shall continue during the term of this Agreement.”
3 Spielberg Manufacturing Co., 112 NLRB 1080 (1955)
4 Bancroft Whitney Co., 214 NLRB 57 (1974); Radioear Corp., 199 NLRB 1161 (1974)

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.

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.

Bean on Union

11/17/2009: Provost Bean comments on the proposed Union. Emphasis added:

This e-mail has been sent on behalf of Provost Jim Bean.

Many of you are aware that organizers from the “United Academics of the University of Oregon” (a union co-sponsored by the American Federation of Teachers and the AAUP) are working on the UO campus with the objective of unionizing Officers of Administration, Officers of Research and Officers of Instruction into a single union. The UO administration is part of a state agency and as such is necessarily neutral on this activity. It is up to the unclassified employees of the University to determine if they want to be represented or to continue to work directly with the administration. We will periodically communicate information about this issue to help employees be as informed as possible when making this important decision.

Oregon is a “card-check” state. That means that a union may be certified to represent unclassified employees without a secret ballot vote taking place. If the organizers can obtain signatures on cards or petitions from over half of the employees in the group stating that they want the union to represent them, the Oregon State Employees Relations Board may certify the union based on that fact so that everyone within the group becomes union-represented. Therefore, please read carefully anything you are asked to sign before making that decision, as you may be giving up your right to vote and committing yourself to inclusion in the union.

If you have any questions on the “card-check” law, please contact Linda King (346-2966 or llking@uoregon.edu) or Randy Wardlow (346-2965 or rwardlow@uoregon.edu), both of Human Resources.

Regards, Jim