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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.

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