Grad students and admins agree to a contract, without expensive HLGR lawyers or a strike

I assume the GTFF website will be updated soon. Meanwhile Diane Dietz has the story in the RG here:

UO President Michael Schill, in his year-in-review in June, said he was pleased with the year’s quick settlements with United Academics and the Service Employees International Union.

Schill’s initiatives to build the university’s graduate program, including increasing the number of graduate fellowships awarded, lent an upbeat background to the GTFF negotiations.

The endeavor also was helped along when the university used its own employee, labor lawyer Bill Brady, as chief negotiator instead of hiring outside counsel for the job, Marchman said.

In addition, graduate school Dean Scott Pratt was on the administration’s bargaining team. Before becoming an administrator in March 2015, Pratt, a philosophy professor, served on the United Academics negotiating team.

“That helped keep negotiations respectful and where graduate employees felt like their concerns were taken seriously,” Marchman said.

The last time the administration bargained with the GTFF, Interim UO President Scott Coltrane put Jeff Mathews, a zoning law expert from Harrang, Long, Gary and Rudnick in charge. They billed UO hundreds of thousands, and a deal was made only after a disastrous, pointless strike. For the first faculty union contract, Pres Mike Gottfredson put HLGR’s noted big-tobacco attorney Sharon Rudnick in charge – those were also bitter negotiations. So is the solution to labor peace at UO as simple as not hiring outside lawyers who bill by the hour?

UO hires Sharon Rudnick & Jeff Matthews to negotiate new GTF contract

Just kidding. I have no reason to think that noted big-tobacco lawyer Sharon Rudnick or her HLGR partner and zoning variance expert Jeff Matthews will ever again work for UO. And, in my opinion, the rumors that FAR Tim Gleason will be on the admin team are clearly anti-university.

But negotiations between the administration and the GTFF really do start Thursday Nov. 12 in the EMU ballroom, 1-5PM, according to the GTFF website. That’s less than 11 months since the strike. Why so soon? Because Scott Coltrane and Jeff Matthews dragged the last negotiations out way past the expiration of the two year contract.

Here’s hoping things go a little smoother this time:

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Hubin’s PR office finally gives Tublitz the BCS championship junket lists

3/31/2015 update: It took a month or so – presumably they were hoping people would forget about it. Full dump here. Check the manifests to see who actually went. Senate President Kyr didn’t. Presumably he understands that taking this sort of largess from the athletic department, while the Senate is taking up legislation to get some money back from the Ducks for the academic side, would be a conflict of interest. And indeed, state law forbids the UO Trustees, and their relatives and household members from taking these sorts of gifts from the Ducks:

But for our Johnson Hall colleagues, who are now considering whether or not to implement the Senate legislation, it’s a family vacation opportunity:

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12/4/2014 8:00 PM update: UO admins evacuate for family bowl-game junkets, as GTF strike mediation drags on

As mediated talks drag into Friday, a photographer captured the chaotic scene as Interim President Scott Coltrane’s executive assistant Dave Hubin packed UO’s top administrators, lawyers, consultants, and their family members into the last helicopter to leave Johnson Hall for Dec 5th’s PAC-12 Football Championship festivities at Levi Field in Santa Clara:

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The university, devastated by years of corrupt puppet governments and a series of coups d’etat orchestrated by athletic department extremists, faces a long, uncertain period of rebuilding, as collateral damage from infighting for the vacant presidency increases.

The careers of several administrators were last seen clinging to the Huey’s skids.

Continue reading

GradGate: Senate to investigate graduate fellowship cuts, missing $11M

2/5/2015 update:

A reader passes along this Brad Shelton powerpoint, which among other things documents the $1.5M Moffitt to Moffitt transfer:

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The bottom line though, is that there’s plenty of water in the well. Or at least that’s what Brad Shelton was telling UO’s academic deans in September:

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I wonder what changed?

2/4/2015 update: The Senate Executive Committee met today. The sudden cuts to graduate fellowships in some UO departments, right in the middle of grad recruiting, got some serious attention. Senate President Kyr is going to ask the Senate Budget Committee to look into the situation and report back to the Senate ASAP.

Meanwhile, in the absence of any information from President Coltrane or Provost Bronet, the rumors are flying. Please post yours in the comments, whilst adhering to the one cuss-word limit.

Isn’t it odd how it only takes Johnson Hall 3 hours to spam the entire university with a witch-hunt email accusing a professor and two archivists of an “unlawful release” of UO archives, but when it comes to something as crucial as graduate student fellowships, they wait until departments are bringing students to campus to tell us sorry, they spent that money on something else?

Speaking of where they spent the money, the Senate Exec Meeting was attended by UO’s new VP for Collaboration Chuck Triplett, who is tasked with spying on the faculty and reporting back to Board Secretary Angela Wilhelms. Pernsteiner paid Triplett $72K, but Angela Wilhelms is giving him $130K, and didn’t even make him go through an affirmative action compliant search. No wonder he’s so happy:

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What are the chances that chief collaborator Triplett will relay the news to the Board of Trustees that UO’s spending priorities are out of whack? How much are we paying Wilhelms?

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2/4/2015: UO cutting grad student fellowships?

That’s the rumor. If true, it means Chuck Lillis has decided that it would be more fun to play with UO if it were out of the AAU. If you know something, say something.

GTF strike ends in 9th day. GPA boilers relit. Educative production and admins bowl-game junket plans resume immediately. LCNI predicts neural activity to reach normal levels by noon.

12/10/2014: The Emergency Senate meeting is on, for 3PM Today, 115 Lawrence.

UO Board committee meetings start at 10AM today, here.

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Updated pretty often. Days 1-4 here, Days 5-6 here. Also read the UAUO website here, UAUO Facebook page, here, GTFF website here, GTFF Facebook here. Not to mention Tobin Klinger and the UO PR flacks on their $500K “Around the 0” blog, if you can find it on google.

Dec 9 updates:

Continue reading

More redactions. Baskin takes grading authority from faculty. GTFF strike blog, days 5-6.

Updated pretty often. Days 1-4 here. Also read the UAUO Facebook page, here.

12/7/2014:

– Senate’s Academic Integrity Task Force takes swift action to revoke Blandy/Altman/Baskin strike grading diktats, here.

– UO redacts HLGR invoices for GTFF work: When you make a public records request to the Oregon Attorney General for copies of invoices it has paid HLGR for legal work, you get complete unredacted documents as on the left. When you ask the University of Oregon President Scott Coltrane’s office, you get heavily redacted invoices as on the right. Oregon’s public records law allows both agencies to redact “legal advice”, if they want, but only UO redacts everything – down to the attorney timekeeper initials that would show how many billable hours Dave Frohnmayer, Randy Geller, and Sharon Rudnick are getting from dragging out the GTFF negotiations:

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The complete, almost completely redacted invoices that Dave Hubin charged me $95 for, and then delayed releasing for a month until I petitioned the Lane County DA, are here.

– CAS Associate Dean Judith Baskin has unilaterally decided to ignore syllabi for courses with GTF instructors or assistants, and give students the option of taking their grade as of Dec 1. This will ensure that any Duck football players enrolled in these classes are eligible for the upcoming NCAA football championship game(s):

Dear Students,

I am responsible for ensuring that you receive a timely grade for the work you have done in COURSE.

On the Academic Affairs website (affairs.uoregon.edu/academic-continuity[1]) the Provost has advised that students in courses taught or supported by GTFs may be given the option to forgo the final assignment/exam and take their current grade in the course.

Please be advised that should the GTFF strike continue to Dec. 12, I will enter the grade you achieved in COURSE up to December 1 as your approximate grade for Fall term. This grade will be based on the grading information given to me by your Instructor. If you wish you may accept this grade as your final grade. In that case, you need not complete any further work for this course and the grade I entered will not be altered.

If this is your preference please send me an email to that effect (jbaskin@uoregon.edu) by date XXXX. Be sure to include your name, student number, and the course number and name; you may include your understanding of what the final grade would be. I regret that, given the large number of courses with which I am working, I cannot give you the grade I will be entering at this time but I assure you that it will be based on the information your Instructor supplied for work competed as of Dec. 1.

OR

You have the option to complete the final exam / assignment as described on your course syllabus and/or by your Instructor. You may submit that work either to the Department of ZZZZ (LOCATION) or electronically (if this was your Instructor’s preference) by the date and time assigned by your Instructor. At such time as your work is graded, the approximate grade will be replaced by a grade based on all your course work, including the final assignment/exam. If you have any questions, please feel to email me (jbaskin@uoregon.edu) or contact me via Blackboard.

Judith R. Baskin, Philip H. Knight Professor of Humanities
Associate Dean for Humanities, College of Arts and Sciences

Matt Dennis (History) has an Op-Ed in the RG contrasting the words from Chuck Lillis and Scott Coltrane about rebuilding UO’s academic reputation with the administration’s actions during the strike:

Remarking on the new capital campaign, Chuck Lillis, chairman of the new UO Board of Trustees, said, “This is a new day for the University of Oregon. … There is a strong sense of purpose across the campus.”

The dawning of this new day is ominous, given that the administration’s purpose seems to be to break the GTFF strike and union, regardless of the consequences for academic integrity, shared governance, graduate education, campus climate and the university’s national reputation. So far it has defied the University Senate (the governing body of the university) and its legislation on strike-related degradation of academic standards, and it seems set to ignore the work of the senate’s emergency Academic Integrity Task Force.

12/6/2014:

– Duck football coach picks up $225K in bonuses Friday. More for assistant coaches. His players, who have yet to unionize, get zilch. Ryan Thorburn in the RG, here.

The latest UO legal expenses. Some for the GTFF bargaining, some for the UOPD, some for things JH really doesn’t want to attach an accounting code to. More here.

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– Scott Coltrane resorts to the “Go Ducks” appeal, as his bargaining team refuses to negotiate again until Tuesday. Diane Dietz has the pathetic story in the RG, here:

“Let’s all remember,” interim President Scott Coltrane said in a statement Friday, “we’re part of this shared university community. I hope to be able to take some time, either at the Matthew Knight Arena watch party or at home, to enjoy tonight’s Pac-12 championship game as a reminder of the passion we feel for our University of Oregon.”

Meanwhile his administration has seized control of grading from faculty and department heads who won’t play along with Coltrane’s refusal to put his promises of sick and parental leave into the GTF contract:

“(The administration) politicized the grading system at the University of Oregon in order to limit the tactical leverage of the GTFF. They compromised the core academic integrity of the grading process in order to win in this labor battle,” said Michael Dreiling, sociology professor and president of the United Academics. “They’re using it, at minimum, as a power play or a point of leverage — to say you can’t win this strike. We’ve got grades covered.”

Why can’t grades wait until the strike is over and GTF’s grade final papers or exams? Because the NCAA says that the Duck football players can’t participate in the upcoming championship playoffs unless UO gives them passing grades by Dec 26th, and Phil Knight is starting to get nervous:

NCAA Bylaw 14.1.10.2: To be eligible to compete in a postseason event (e.g., conference tournament, bowl game, National Invitation Tournament, NCAA championship) that occurs between regular terms (including summer) a student-athlete, in his or her final season of competition in the applicable sport, shall have satisfactorily completed six-semester or six-quarter hours of academic credit the preceding regular academic term of full-time enrollment (see Bylaw 14.4.3.1). An institution shall have 14 business days (regardless of the date in which grades are posted or submitted) after the date of the last scheduled examination listed in the institution’s official calendar for the term that is ending to certify completion of the six-semester or six-quarter hours of academic credit. (Emphasis added).

– UO PR flack Tobin Klinger was apparently left off the JH PAC-12 evac flight, but he’s still getting $115K for garbage answers to questions from reporter Alexandra Wallachly, in the ODE here:

The GTFF strike could result in a quite stinky campus. If an agreement isn’t reached between the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation and the university, University of Oregon’s garbage will not be collected.

The Teamsters Local #206 union, which includes Sanipac drivers, issued a 72-hour notice that it will not cross the picket lines.

“The union has notified members and employers of the strike where necessary,” said #206 representative Leonard Stoeher. “We stand in full support of our brothers and sisters of the UO teaching fellows.” …

“The university understands and respects the decision by the teamsters to honor the GTFF’s strike,” Tobin Klinger, UO senior director of Public Affairs and Communications said.

This won’t be an immediate problem for most of campus, where the trash gets picked up weekly. Even the day care center only gets a weekly cleaning – which is a little scary. But it’s going to be tough on our Johnson Hall colleagues, who are used to special service, every night:

Lillis calls Coltrane back for 3-day loss. Is “X” grade flip-flop about football players eligibility?

Updated way too often:

12/5/2014:

6:11 PM: Lillis calls Coltrane back for 3-day loss on plans for Saturday mediation:

No more talks til Tuesday. The Board of Trustees meetings start Wednesday, and presumably they’re trying to put on a strong offensive show for their most important fan, Phil Knight:

On FridayDec 5, 2014, at 6:11 PM, President’s Office <pres@uoregon.edu> wrote:

Campus Community,

I’m disappointed to report that we have ended another day of mediation with the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation without agreement. We had hope of bringing this issue to a close prior to finals week, but our next mediation is now scheduled for Tuesday.

[blah, Go Ducks, blah, blah]

Thank you for your continued work and understanding. Scott Coltrane, Interim President

– 5:00 PM. The GTFF website reports no deal yet, mediation will restart tomorrow:

Both parties agreed it’s important for the teams to collaborate in whatever ways might be possible without having mixed and conflicting messages ending up public and having to mend fences in the morning. The teams agreed to confidentiality for this round of mediation. We are still working through things at the moment and where ever we end up, we’ll be taking that to our Executive Council for discussion and for our stewards to take out to our members.

I’m still waiting for Hubin to release the latest data on how many billable hours Coltrane is paying Frohnmayer and Geller’s HLGR law firm for their successful efforts to drag this strike out past the last day for undergrads to get GTF help for finals week.

– I put in a PR request into Dave Hubin’s office for the latest legal and consulting billings on Monday. My guess is he’ll delay these until the GTFF bargaining ends, just as IR is hiding the latest info on raises for JH admins. But bargaining for the faculty contract starts in January, and will be helpful for showing the self-serving priorities of the JH administration:

12/4/2014:

– Scott Coltrane is so worried about revealing excessive athletic donations during the GTFF strike that Dave Hubin is redacting even the most basic information as “trade secrets”. Camilla Mortenson has the story in the Eugene Weekly, here:

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Under President Lariviere, UO would release all the records, including the detailed gift contracts, e.g. Phil Knight’s for the athlete-only Jock Box.

10:00 PM: Admins panic over JH sit-in, call cops on the undergrads. UOPD officers were called in today to evict undergraduate GTFF sympathizers from Johnson Hall, according to this Kaylee Tornay report in the ODE. The police refused, on the sensible grounds that the students weren’t breaking any laws. But the administration seems to be threatening student conduct code discipline, if I get the story right. Since UO’s Academic Freedom and Free Speech policies cover students, any such efforts would be pure intimidation, or panic, on the administration’s part:

The University supports free speech with vigor, including the right of presenters to offer opinion, the right of the audience to hear what is presented, and the right of protesters to engage with speakers in order to challenge ideas, so long as the protest does not disrupt or stifle the free exchange of ideas.

– 7:45 PM: The RG reports no settlement tonight. Mediation will resume at 11AM tomorrow. Many undergrads will have no final help or lab sessions before finals begin Monday – if there are finals. Faculty will be left to deal with the chaos. Meanwhile the newly established Senate Task Force on Academic Integrity has been working on an legitimate alternative to Doug Blandy and Barbara Altmann’s “Wizard of Oz” grading scheme. And fwiw, here’s official JH strike communique #253:

Date: December 4, 2014 at 7:58:19 PM PST
From: “President’s Office” <pres@uoregon.edu>
Reply-To: pres@uoregon.edu
Subject: Mediation continues tomorrow

Dear Campus Community,

After a long day of mediation with the university and the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation sharing confidential proposals, talks have concluded for the evening.

While I hope for a swift resolution, I’m proud of our bargaining team for staying at the table to work to find a solution and we look ahead to another mediation session tomorrow.

While we continue bargaining, we remain fully prepared to meet the needs of our students going into finals week. A team of volunteers is ready to proctor exams and continuity plans are in place to ensure grades are submitted in a timely fashion.

Both parties have agreed to keep details of today’s exchange confidential, but despite the lack of resolution to date, the university remains committed to the collective bargaining process.

We appreciate the respectful discourse that has surrounded this challenging issue and the thousands of faculty, staff and graduate students who have remained focused on carrying out our mission. They have continued to work tirelessly to ensure that we continue to meet the needs of our students.

For complete information on academic continuity planning and negotiations, please visit http://provost.uoregon.edu/gtff-negotiation.

Sincerely, Scott Coltrane, Interim President

UO Alumna donates $10K to the GTFF strike fund. Heartfelt letter of support and link to the donate button, here.

1:00 AM: Was “X” grade flip-flop about football players eligibility?
The original “confidential” Academic Continuity Plan recommended that faculty consider assigning “X” grades until the GTFF strike was over, final work could be graded and legitimate grades could be assigned

A few weeks later, the admin’s changed their mind, and we got this message:

Academic Continuity Planning Update 11/25/14:

Colleagues,

Thank you for your ongoing engagement during the preparations for the upcoming GTFF strike. Below you will find additional information about grading options, pre-strike polling, changes to Blackboard, and attendance tracking.

Sincerely, Barbara Altmann, Doug Blandy, Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs

X Grades

As stated in the November 21, 2014, message, university leaders believed earlier that X grades might be a viable solution; however, upon further investigation with the registrar and financial aid staff, it was determined that X grades would be viewed as non-passing grades for financial aid purposes. Depending on each individual student’s situation, the X grade may imperil that individual’s financial aid. …

During the Senate debate Wed, John Bonine (Law) quoted wording from UO’s own financial aid website that conflicted with the administration’s statement above. So what’s really going on with this X flip, and the discipline that CAS Dean Marcus now threatening for those that use the X?.

The NCAA football championships. It turns out that the X does not meet the “satisfactorily completed” standard the NCAA requires for athletes to play in the post-season football championship game. UO’s last regularly scheduled exam is Dec 12. The NCAA then gives UO 14 days to certify that post-season athletes have satisfactorily completed their (minimal) academic requirement of 6 credits for the fall quarter. No satisfactory grade, no play.

This does not affect the Dec 5th PAC-12 Championship, but it does matter for the Jan 1 Football Championship playoffs and, should it come to that, the championship game on Jan 12th.

Here’s NCAA Bylaw 14.1.10.2:

To be eligible to compete in a postseason event (e.g., conference tournament, bowl game, National Invitation Tournament, NCAA championship) that occurs between regular terms (including summer) a student-athlete, in his or her final season of competition in the applicable sport, shall have satisfactorily completed six-semester or six-quarter hours of academic credit the preceding regular academic term of full-time enrollment (see Bylaw 14.4.3.1). An institution shall have 14 business days (regardless of the date in which grades are posted or submitted) after the date of the last scheduled examination listed in the institution’s official calendar for the term that is ending to certify completion of the six-semester or six-quarter hours of academic credit. (Emphasis added).

12/3/2014:

– New RG report from Diane Dietz here, with many interviews with undergrads. She gives Coltrane enough rope to say a few things he’s probably already regretting, but the undergrad quotes are what make it well worth reading. And in other news, SANIPAC apparently told UO today that its drivers (Teamsters Local #206), will honor the GTFF picket lines and stop picking up UO’s garbage. Game over.

– “Coltrane lauds “respectful discourse” as Marcus calls in dissident Dept Heads for discipline.” New massmail from Interim President Coltrane lauds the Senate and GTFF for “respectful discourse” – his definition seems a little different from the one UO’s English composition instructors use – as rumors fly that department heads who refuse to cooperate with the “voluntary grading suggestions” in the now public Johnson Hall “Academic Continuity Plan” are being called in by Interim CAS Dean Andrew Marcus, and told they will face discipline. Respectful discipline, I’m sure.

The UO Senate isn’t going to let this happen easily. They voted unanimously today to use their authority over academic matters to create a Senate “Academic Integrity Task Force” to rewrite Coltrane’s ACP, ASAP.

At the same time he’s on the respect thing, Coltrane is claiming the strike is not causing much disruption, and telling instructors that “staff volunteers” (some rumored to be UOPD) will be checking up on classes again tomorrow.

The good news? The GTFF president has flown to DC to meet with Pete DeFazio, Governor Kitzhaber (who controls UO Board appointments) is ramping up the pressure on Coltrane and the Board to end this nonsense strait-away, and the state mediator is going to give it another try Thursday:

Date: December 3, 2014 at 6:31:03 PM PST
From: “President’s Office” <pres@uoregon.edu> Reply-To: pres@uoregon.edu
Subject: Mediation resumes tomorrow

Students and colleagues,

As we mark the second day of striking by the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation, I am pleased to report the discourse has continued to be respectful. We are optimistic that this trend will continue tomorrow across campus, and at the bargaining table. We are also confident that we will continue to meet the needs of our students during this difficult time.

Contract negotiations can be emotionally charged events, and ours is no exception. One thing that has been demonstrated is the passion that we all share for education of our students. I want to thank all who have worked to ensure that we continue to meet the needs of our students.

Dozens of UO employees have volunteered as course monitors to each GTF-led class, to ensure all students are given an explanation of the situation, should the GTF instructor not be present. Over the past two days, course monitors have reported that only 22 percent of scheduled courses resulted in students arriving to find no instructor. On Thursday and Friday, we are fully prepared with volunteers to carry out this critical duty.

Picketing GTFs are passionately conveying their message and we appreciate the continued respectful discourse that has been witnessed throughout campus today. The university is committed to ensuring that picketing does not disrupt our campus environments.

Tomorrow morning negotiations will resume and the university remains hopeful that an agreement will be reached that meets the needs of all involved. Thank you for your commitment to our university.

Sincerely, Scott Coltrane, Interim President

– GTFF sets up a link to donate to their strike fund, here. “These funds will help offset costs associated with strike supplies, legal costs, or lost wages.”

– The Presidential Skybox at Autzen – mostly paid for with undergrad tuition money – costs more than twice as much as the GTFF sick leave plan:

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– From an email the administration is sending to undergrads in classes cancelled because of striking GTFs:

“Until further notice, there will be no formal instruction in your class. The classroom will still be available at the usual time, and you are welcome to use it for study groups or work sessions. We encourage you to keep up with your syllabus to the best of your ability: read the book on your own, try the homework problems if there are any, and if not pick out some representative problems from the textbook.”

– InsideHigherEd has a long story on the strike, UO’s academic standards, and Coltrane’s research, from Kaitlin Mulhere, with many interesting quotes. The admin’s hired spin doctors aren’t getting much play, compared to the GTFF leaders and their faculty and undergrad allies. Read it all, here.

Continue reading

Live-blog from Senate: Let’s call this the “Wizard of Oz” meeting

12/4/2014 update: Paid UO PR flack Jennifer Winters has now posted the admin spin for Wednesday’s Senate meeting on “Around the 0”, if you care enough to google it.

Short version: Coltrane got raked over the coals again for his administration’s secretive “Academic Continuity Plan”. He added to the fire by threatening, not very subtlely, to discipline faculty who did not submit grades by Dec 19. The Senate began the process of restoring trust and confidence in UO’s academic integrity by taking responsibility for this away from VP’s Blandy and Altmann.

The Senate approved new courses, and agreed to set up former provost Jim Bean with a $250K sinecure running a new “Sports Product Design” MS degree program, which now goes to the HECC for consideration. We also approved a permanent Committee on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, and worked through and approved the last of the revisions to the Student Conduct code that VP Robin Holmes had neglected for years. All in all a very productive meeting.

12/3/2014 update: Official Senate Agenda for the 3PM Wed meeting is here. Coltrane will speak and get asked questions about the strike, etc. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Senate also took further action on the strike. It will be an interesting and important meeting. I’ll try and live-blog a little:

Senate Meeting Agenda – December 3, 2014: Watch Live | Senate Agenda 

115 Lawrence, 3:00-5:00 p.m. Continue reading

Trust breaks down, Coltrane says no hardship fund language in the CBA, GTFF strikes

Update: The Register Guard can’t make sense of Coltrane’s actions either. Story here:

The GTFs went into a last-ditch mediation session with UO officials today with a sense of optimism, [UO biology grad student and bargaining team member Steve McAllister] said.

The dispute had winnowed down to a single issue — the union’s demand for two weeks paid medical and parental leave. University bargainers proposed a way out in the form of creating a $150,000 graduate student hardship fund that students could tap for $1,000 or $1,500 in the case of illness or the birth of a child.

The rub: The university refused to write the specifics of how the hardship fund would operate, including details about eligibility, into the proposed two-year contract, union leaders said. …

The university did not clarify why it doesn’t support detailing the hardship fund operations in the contract for the GTFs, and then administer the fund for those graduate students without fellowships in an identical manner.

The graduate student federation is adamant that the terms belong in a legally enforceable contract, McAllister said.

“What we basically have today is they’ve said, ‘Hey, we’ll do this great program for you’ and we’ve said, ‘Great. Do you promise?’ And they’ve said, ‘Well, no. We don’t.’

Meanwhile, the breakdown in trust in the UO administration has driven another spike in UO Matters readership:

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This is not a healthy situation. The UO administration should be a credible voice on important matters like this. People shouldn’t have to rely on an opinionated blogger like me, who has to pay for UO public records with occasional raids on my scotch budget.

Unfortunately, the millions of dollars that Johnson Hall has poured into PR flacks and “Around the 0”, coupled with the disingenuous and confused email messages on this strike from Scott Coltrane, Frances Bronet, Barbara Altmann and Doug Blandy, and Dave Hubin’s willingness to abuse Oregon’s public records law to hide information, have, in Scott Coltrane’s passive words, meant that “Trust has broken down”. Presumably Coltrane will present a plan for fixing that at Wednesday’s Senate meeting. But will anyone trust him?

12/1/2014 update: Coltrane won’t sign, GTFF will strike, and “Trust has broken down”. 

Yeah, maybe your $300-an-hour zoning lawyer can tell you how that happened. Although I think it will be hard to top the explanation your $14,000 a year English composition instructors gave you, now in the Emerald, here.

From: President’s Office <pres@uoregon.edu> Date: Mon, Dec 1, 2014 at 4:52 PM
Subject: Mediation concluded, strike expected

Dear colleagues and students,

It pains me to send this update about the negotiations with the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation. Mediation has failed and regrettably we are expecting the GTFF to strike beginning tomorrow.

I care deeply about each student and employee here. I have been hopeful every day that this could be avoided. Unfortunately, the bargaining teams met today and could not reach an agreement.

We have been negotiating for a year. The university has moved toward the union proposals at almost every negotiation and mediation. Most labor negotiations include give and take. Today’s offer included a hardship fund that would provide financial support for graduate students in need. Nevertheless the GTFF authorized a strike vote months ago in the spring, and have reiterated that position repeatedly. Trust has broken down and rebuilding that trust will be a priority when this is over.

Tomorrow will be a significant day on campus. It is dead week and academic life will go on even if many of our GTFs strike. We respect each person’s right to choose for him- or herself about whether to participate. It is one of the great things about our country. Please be respectful of one another.

For our students, we have a job to do and serving students is our focus. Final exams will be held and graded, and student grades will be entered. And we will all look forward toward winter term.

Sincerely,

Scott Coltrane
Interim President

11/29/2014 1:11 PM update: GTFF to Bronet: Put sick leave in the CBA, and it’s a deal

The GTFF’s response to the latest proposal from the administration is here. The only remaining sticking point? They want the details in the CBA. I’m no $300-an-hour zoning-easement lawyer, but in economics we teach that this is just the sort of thing that contracts like the CBA are for. Here’s hoping Provost Bronet gives Jeff Matthews appropriate instructions soon:

The GTFF’s executive council voted that they could be willing to accept the fund as an alternative to paid leave. However, to do so, critical language about the fund must be in our collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The GTFF proposed language to do so and was willing to discuss alterations that would work for the Administration. However, the Administration still refused to accept any CBA language to guarantee the rules of how the fund might operate.

Question: Why does it need to be in the CBA?

Creating a CBA is the reason we hold negotiations. It is an enforceable, legally binding agreement between employer (UO) and employees (GTFs). The language that is written into the CBA must be followed by both sides. If either side violates the CBA, formal procedures exist to correct that, including a third-party arbitrator to correct any violations. Working out a deal, without any guarantee of follow through, undermines the intent of the collective bargaining process. Writing new policy for graduate students does not guarantee the needs of its graduate employees are being addressed.

The Administration is unwilling to include any CBA language for the fund other than (1) it exists, (2) there is at least $150,000 in the fund, and (3) GTFs, because they are grad students, can access the fund. So, the only legally binding portion of the fund would be its existence, size, and the fact that GTFs can access it. The rules of the fund, all details about how the fund operates and how grad students can access the fund, are left up to the Administration. That is not good enough.

11/28/2014 1:40 update: Provost Bronet to faculty, students: Shelter in Place until Monday

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CAS Dean Andrew Marcus asks undergrads to rat out striking grad students

12/1/2014 update: Our administrators are burning a lot of bridges on this strike. Why? At this point the admin team has agreed to everything almost everything the GTF wanted. All that’s left is for Coltrane and Bronet to put it in writing. They don’t want to. This is silly, of course it has to be in writing.

Having been slapped down by the Senate on their attempt to get the faculty to weaken academic standards to help the admins break a GTF strike, our administration is now working on turning the undergrads against the grad students. Destroy everything, just so Scott Coltrane doesn’t have to admit he should have given up on sick leave back in August?

From: “Interim Tykeson Dean W. Andrew Marcus”
Date: December 1, 2014 at 11:47 AM PST
Subject: Attending your classes and submitting assignments as planned
Reply-To: “Interim Tykeson Dean W. Andrew Marcus”

Dear Students,

You are receiving this note because you are a student in one of the 45 programs that make up the College of Arts & Sciences, or because you are undeclared and receive advising through the college. You may be wondering what to do if Graduate Teaching Fellows go on strike this Tuesday, December 2. I advise you to attend all your classes as scheduled, and to submit all course requirements as stipulated by your instructors.

We are working diligently to minimize the impact on students should there be a strike. But various disruptions, including an instructor not attending a class, may still occur.

If you experience a disruption in your classroom, lab, or other academic experience due to a work stoppage, you may let us know by emailing casdean@uoregon.edu or calling 541-346-3902 with the course number and name, meeting time, instructor’s name, and class location.

We in the College of Arts and Sciences are dedicated first and foremost to ensuring that you achieve your academic objectives for this term.

Thank you.

W. Andrew Marcus
Interim Tykeson Dean
College of Arts and Sciences

11/28/2014 update: Administration fails to poll faculty and GTF’s on strike plans

There’s no sign that the administration’s team of well-paid strategic communicators got their act together on today’s promised (threatened?) survey of the faculty and GTFs about their strike plans. So instead I’m posting this letter from Professor Matthew Dennis to his History 201 students, with permission. Full letter here:

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11/27/2014 update: Administration to poll faculty on how to maintain academic standards during strike

Just kidding, there’s no evidence that the Senate legislation or all that heartfelt debate has had the slightest impact on Coltrane’s plans to degrade academic standards to make it easier to break a GTFF strike. To the contrary, the administration has moved from what AVP Ken Doxsee called “suggestions” to requirements, as in the new instructions about not assigning X or I grades. Combined with the new diktat below, this leaves faculty with essentially only one choice: assign some sort of letter grade based on work completed so far, even if that work is a small fraction of what is laid out in their syllabus, or even if that work would normally lead to a grade of incomplete.

Apparently they *will* be polling us (and the GTFs?) on Friday to ask us how we intend to comply with the administration’s increasingly desperate and confused instructions. The results will be “confidential” of course, unless the administration decides they will make for good PR spin:

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GTFF rally for 5PM Monday at Johnson Hall draws politicians like … draws …

Update: Looks rainy, but there’s plenty of room inside the lobby, as the UO Coalition discovered last spring.

Coltrane could have settled this a month ago and saved our department heads a lot of time, and the GTFF a lot of megaphone batteries. But no:

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Thanksgiving Day Update: 62-year-old university president fails at ultimatum bargaining with 25-year-old students. His lawyers cash in again.

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Harrang lawyers bill up to $250K on GTFF, Hubin and Park still hiding invoices

11/30/2014: Dave Hubin and Doug Park still hiding docs on GTFF bargaining

Here’s a page of the invoices from the faculty union bargaining. Heavily redacted, but at least Gottfredson would release them. UO has become even less transparent under Coltrane:

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When the UO administration wants the public to know things that make themselves look good, they’ve got a well paid team of strategic consultants like Tim Clevenger ($195K), Tobin Klinger ($115K), Ann Wiens ($110K), Julie Brown ($91K) and Jennifer Winters ($68K) to write up some spin for “Around the 0”, spam the faculty and student email lists, and try to find a reporter to write a puff piece with the administrator’s name prominently mentioned.

But when public records might embarrass Johnson Hall, and maybe force them to do the right thing for once, Dave Hubin ($140K) and interim General Counsel Doug Park ($205K) take over and do everything they can to delay and obstruct. (Those are last year’s salaries. UO is also delaying release of the report showing this year’s administrative raises, some old data is here.)

Four weeks ago I made a public records request for the HLGR invoices for its work bargaining against the GTFF. A week or so later Hubin’s PR Office said they would charge me $94.58 for these documents. I sent payment the following Monday, November 10th, and according to my bank that check has been cashed by UO. I’m still waiting for the invoices.

The Oregon DOJ says that one week is normally sufficient time to produce public records. So Monday I’ll file another petition to Lane County Alex Gardner’s office, and another public records request to UO for the statements showing more recent bargaining costs.

From what I can tell from other sources, Dave Frohnmayer’s friends at HLGR have billed UO about $250K for the GTFF bargaining so far. The damage to JH’s credibility and the trust of UO’s faculty and students? Priceless.

On Friday Nov 7, 2014, at 10:51 AM, Thornton, Lisa <pubrec@uoregon.edu> wrote:

Dear Mr. Harbaugh:

The University of Oregon has received your public records request for “the six detailed HLGR invoices with transactions dates of 24-Sep-14″ on 11/05/2014, attached. The office has at least some documents responsive to your request. By this email, the office is providing you with an estimate to respond to your requests.

The office estimates the actual cost of responding to your request to be $94.58. Upon receipt of a check made payable to the University of Oregon for that amount, the office will proceed to locate, copy, and provide the records you have requested that are not exempt from disclosure. Your check may be sent to the attention of Office of Public Records, 6207 University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403-6207.

11/6/2014: Crowdsourcing reveals UO has paid $125K for outside attorneys to fight GTF union:

It took a few petitions to the District Attorney, but eventually Dave Hubin’s public records office handed over the accounting records on UO’s legal expenses, and I posted them here. Some anonymous do-gooder put them into excel for me, and it seems that UO has paid $125K to HLGR’s labor lawyers Sharon Rudnick, Jeff Matthews, and Kate Grado, to try and prevent the UO grad students from getting ~$100K in sick leave a year. Expect more big bills in October and November.

Add in whatever raises, stipends, and golden parachutes were promised to the faculty and administrators who agreed to sit at the table with HLGR’s Jeff Matthews on the admin bargaining team (Tim Gleason made out very well for sitting next to Sharon Rudnick last year) and you’re starting to talk real money. And of course there’s the $140K UO’s new internal union negotiator “Big Bill” Brady gets:

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No sign yet that Scott Coltrane has the stones to tell Dave Frohnmayer’s law firm to get lost. What a waste of our students’ tuition:

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UO Composition GTFs call out admins on disrespectful, uncivil discourse

11/28/2014 Editor’s note: As of Friday, this letter has been downloaded more times than anything I’ve ever posted, except a few documents from various athletics scandals. As one commenter notes, “When you’ve lost your composition instructors, you’ve lost the war.”

11/25/2014: My headline, not theirs, but I think it captures the gist. 46 signatures so far, mostly GTF’s. Given UO’s history of retaliation, and their lack of tenure protection, this one took some real guts to send. Con rispetto, full letter with signators here:

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Eleventh hour talks to be held today

11/25/2014 update: The GTFF has sent its leadership team to meet with the State appointed mediator, presumably for the last time. No word if the UO administration has sent anyone with the power to cut a deal, or just $300-an-hour zoning easements attorney Jeff Matthews and the usual low-level administrators. Meanwhile UAUO President Michael Dreiling has an op-ed in the RG in support of the grad students:

Why do we support the federation?

On Nov. 5, UO President Scott Coltrane explained to the University Senate why attracting, supporting and retaining graduate students is essential to meeting our academic ambitions. The UO is doing poorly in this respect.

Recent data show that our total number of graduate students has declined. Many universities with which the UO competes already provide paid sick leave for their graduate employees. The UO cannot afford to fall further behind them. Better pay and a humane sick leave policy would make the UO more competitive, and we urge the administration to move on these proposals.

He’s got a point. UO needs more grad students to stay in the AAU, as Board Chair Chuck Lillis discussed in his meeting with the faculty Senate. It’s not happening, and we all know pay and benefits are part of prospective students’ decision. Here’s the last 10 years or so of enrollment data (includes professional students). We lost 100 or so last year alone:

11/24/2014 update: Unions post updates on strike, what to do about grades, AAUP support

The United Academics faculty union’s website includes some useful info about grading, and a letter of support from the AAUP for the “dilute and degrade” legislation and opposition to the administration’s confidential strike plans, here. This message is particularly strong:

The campus is caught up in confrontation and brinksmanship. Regardless of where anyone stands on the issues between the GTFF and the administration, we all have right to expect our administration to provide creative leadership in these difficult times. We are not getting this leadership from our colleagues in Johnson Hall.

The GTFF grad student union post is here, and among other things they have a letter of support from a major German trade union, reassuring the UO administration that:

“Parental leave, maternity protection and sick pay are not equivalent to socialism, but are self-evident principles.”

Now that this matter of principle has now been cleared up, perhaps the UO administration will finally agree to a deal with the GTFF. Rumor has it that the mediator from the Oregon LRB is willing to try one more time, tomorrow.

11/22/2014 update: Blandy and Altmann’s admin costs up $1.1M or 50%, in just two years

And Scott Coltrane doesn’t know where to find the $300K to settle with the GTF’s?

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And from what I can tell UO’s General Counsel’s office has spent another $150K on outside lawyers in the last two months, suggesting that HLGR’s Sharon Rudnick and Jeff Matthews may be approaching $250K in billings for the GTFF bargaining. (Dave Hubin’s Public Records office is still hiding the invoices, which I paid him for almost 2 weeks ago.)

11/22/2014 update: The well known Crooked Timber blog follows up on the Chronicle report with a complete dissection of the UO administration’s dissembling about the grad student strike, here.

11/21/2014: $530,000 in Vice Provosts not enough to figure out “X” grade

For some reason UO has *two* “Senior Vice Provosts of Academic Affairs”, Barbara Altmann and Doug Blandy, each pulling in paychecks of ~$190K, plus a regular VP of Academic Affairs Ken Doxsee, paid ~$150K. But apparently three’s not enough to do the job. While we all know Blandy has some unusual but lucrative ideas about what an A grade means,

it seems that Academic Affairs is also now confused about the X grade:

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Chronicle of Higher Ed quotes Coltrane on Senate strike vote, Board Chair Lillis speaks.

Scroll down for the Senate agenda and live-blog.

Institutionalized News Media Updates:

Once again Johnson Hall’s administrative incompetence crowds out the important news, in this case Chuck Lillis’s speech. Alexandra Wallachy does have this in the Emerald: UO has “bad reputation” for faculty-admin relations, Lillis says. And well paid former TV journalist and UO PR flack Jennifer Winters has the spin in “Around the 0“.

Chronicle of Higher Education: University of Oregon Draws Criticism for Response to Threatened TA Strike

The University of Oregon’s Senate voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to rebuke the institution’s administration for planning for a threatened strike by graduate teaching assistants in a manner that bypasses the faculty and stands to bring about “the dilution and degradation of teaching standards.”

The Senate, which includes representatives of the faculty, student body, administration, and staff, adopted the motion in response to a confidential memorandum that Oregon’s top academic and human-resources administrators sent to deans and directors last month. …

Scott Greenstone has a good report in the Emerald on the dilute and degrade legislation, here:

By supporting this resolution, University Senate is saying two things:

– University Senate does not support the administration’s plan to change finals and called it “diluting academic standards” in the resolution. The plan includes turning final essays into multiple-choice tests, shortening long essay finals, or hiring non-GTF graduate students, officers of administration or even upper-level undergraduates.

– University Senate doesn’t appreciate the UO administration sending the plans to department heads instead of discussing the plans with the senate. University Senate wants to instead work with the university and come up with a solution together.

Originally, the plans were sent out with a stamp of ‘confidential,’ which the faculty pointed to as an attempt to hide the plans from them in the resolution. Barbara Altmann, senior vice-provost of Academic Affairs, denied this. Altmann said the watermark was “vestigial,” and that the university knew emails would be shared and faculty would learn of the plans.

Altmann says she and Blandy marked the plan as confidential, and only addressed it to deans and directors – not department heads, not faculty – because they knew that meant they’d get a lot of attention and feedback from the faculty. And these people wonder why no one trusts them?

GTF Union updates:

GTFF responds to today’s flex-time proposal from the administration here, and officially calls the strike for Dec 2nd, press release here.

Senate Meeting Highlights:

1) UO will dump Blackboard course management software for Canvas. Live Spring 2015. Yea!

2) Lillis speaks, answers questions. Very honest about UO’s situation and in the Q&A. (See below.) He wants administration and faculty to cooperate more to help UO. But will the Johnson Hall administration step up to the plate? Their refusal to work with the faculty on how to deal with the GTF bargaining and strike planning is not encouraging.

3) Opposition to administration’s efforts to dilute and degrade academic standards in the event of a GTF strike. AKA “educational malpractice”: dropping essay exams, canceling classes, having students watch videos, etc. Blandy: Tries to cover his butt, it’s all about protecting our undergraduates. Altmann: THe confidential stamp was there to attract more interest for what was an initial draft. We knew it would get leaked in 30 minutes to UO Matters (WTF? It wasn’t stamped “draft”, it was stamped “confidential“. And it took me days to get it. Embarrassing. And Altmann just can’t keep from digging that credibility hole deeper and deeper.) Dreiling: Sometimes good people make bad decisions. This secret memo was a bad decision. Just Settle. Lots more discussion, Coltrane gives a weak defense of how he’s handled the situation, gets called out on mis-statements by many in the room. One speaker gives HLGR’s $300-an-hour lawyers a special mention for abusing and insulting our grad students, during the year of botched negotiations that led UO to this point.

Legislation passes unanimously almost unanimously (25 to3?) at 5:10, Senate then adjourns. How’s that for Senate action to help UO improve its research standing, by making clear we stand behind our grad students? Now it’s the administration’s turn to show they can work together on this important goal.

Packed room. I’ll try and live-blog a little. No promises, check the livestream link. Usual disclaimer: nothing is a quote unless in quotes.

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