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Card check party Jan 24

1/19/2012: The union organizers are having their official card check election opening event 12:30 – 3:00, Jan 24 in the Pape room of the art museum. I think they will win. I don’t know what the timeline is like after that – presumably elections for union boss, committees, constitution, etc. Some process to determine dues, which will presumably be in the 0.75% to 1.25% range. Maybe there will be some challenges over definition of the bargaining unit – the organizers do not seem worried on this. At some point – a year from now? – bargaining with the administration over a contract. There’s a little more info here. My preference is for a union that focuses on salary and staffing levels. Take that money off the top, before JH gets its hands on it and starts spending it on themselves, police, athletics subsidies etc.


  1. Anonymous 01/19/2012

    I hope they don’t win, but if they do, as a TT faculty member I will fight their right to tell us what to do to the very end.

    If UO Matters is now campaigning for the union, as appears to be the case, then UO Matters is making itself completely, less than worthless.

  2. UO Matters 01/19/2012

    I think they’re going to win. So the fight now moves to how to make sure the union is good for UO. This is going to require lots of work and participation from everyone.

    If those faculty who are the most skeptical of the idea of faculty unions don’t participate in union governance, we’re going to have a disastrously bad union.

    So I’m not going to use this blog to advocate for a faculty union – just to advocate for a *good* faculty union, given that we are going to have one.

  3. Anonymous 01/19/2012

    Why does it make sense for TTF, NTTF and OR’s to have a shared union?

    We have totally different objectives, markets, etc.

    If unions are to be discussed, they should be independent, the same way GTF’s and staff have their own unions.

    To me combining NTTF’s is like the NBA making a union with the NFL. Totally different markets, it makes no sense to combine them together.

    • Anonymous 01/19/2012

      Your metaphor is a little off base. It would actually be similar to NFL players joining in a union with NBA players, which, to tell the truth, would probably not be a bad idea from the point of view of the players.
      No matter how much you restrict the membership of a bargaining unit, there will always be some divergence of interests. That must be balanced against a certain “critical mass” that a unit must attain to be effective at the bargaining table. What is often overlooked is that a union can serve as an effective forum for the reconciliation of divergent interests within the bargaining unit. For example, an OR may be particularly concerned with job tenure. During a union meeting, she may be on a committee with a NTTF who is more concerned with teaching load. They talk to each other. They listen to each other. They compromise. And they work out a position that addresses both of their concerns. Sounds like a win-win situation to me.

    • Anonymous 01/19/2012

      You are crazy if you think you are going to force us into a union and then we’re going to talk to you and compromise. It will be war! (metaphorically speaking of course).

  4. UO Matters 01/19/2012

    I agree – but there is apparently enough commonality of interest to meet Oregon’s legal requirements to pool them together, and apparently some precedent from a recent Klamath CC case.

  5. Anonymous 01/19/2012

    Look, the instructors can have a union if they like — but leave the TT faculty out of it — the OR’s too can decide for themselves, I doubt that they want to be in a union.

    As far as I’m concerned, a unionized TT faculty is the destruction of the University — there is nothing to do but bail — it’s finished, it’s over — forget the independent board, the alumni can forget about making donations (except to athletics) — because it’s over.

    If Oregon’s “legal requirements” actually allow this farce to go through, then it just proves once again that Oregon is a hopelessly stupid place — it deserves to have a lousy university — which it will get, in abundance.

  6. Anonymous 01/19/2012

    “So the fight now moves to how to make sure the union is good for UO. This is going to require lots of work and participation from everyone. If those faculty who are the most skeptical of the idea of faculty unions don’t participate in union governance, we’re going to have a disastrously bad union.”

    Given our history of participation in shared governance, what makes anybody think we’ll do any better governing a new bureaucracy that is supposed to govern the old bureaucracy? Let’s just flush 1% of payroll down the drain and be done with it.

    Or an alternative (pipe dream?) proposal: let’s interpret “the faculty of the University… shall have the immediate government and discipline of it and the students therein” as a statement of a job responsibility (rather than of a right), and compensate people for doing that part of the job. For the best faculty — the ones we want involved in governance — the choice to volunteer their time on the Committee on Committees on Committees competes with other priorities — like, for example, writing grants that’ll pay them summer salary and earn merit raises (ha ha, I mean outside job offers they can use to leverage “equity” raises). Governance cannot compete. So forget the union, at least for TTFs. Let’s allocate an amount of money equal to 1% of faculty payroll and use it to give course buyouts or incentive pay to faculty who serve on the Senate or university committees. Crazy? Probably. But less crazy than an ungoverned union, which is what we’re going to get.

  7. Anonymous 01/19/2012

    Here’s a question. Do 50% of TTF have to approve the union, or is it 50% the combined pool of TTF, NTTF, and OR’s. So if 80% of NTTF’s vote to unionize or only 40% of TTF do, do we get sucked in?? Seems a bit crazy to me.

  8. Anonymous 01/19/2012

    Like it or not, We’ve already decided that, in terms of faculty governance and in accordance with a DOJ memo, NTTF and TTF constitute the faculty and have equal standing. So why all the division and stratification? Is teaching less important? Is it not also a core part of the academic mission? As mentioned, no matter how you slice it, there will always be differences between the members of a union. Even if it is only TTF. Makes sense that a faculty union be composed of all the faculty, as we have already defined them. I am confused on the inclusion of OA’s. That group represents a more significant divergence from the core teaching and research functions of faculty.

  9. Anonymous 01/20/2012

    OAs are not included. Officers of Research (ORS) are .

  10. Anonymous 01/20/2012

    Out of curiosity, what are the arguments against such a union? Some commenters seem quite opposed to the idea.

  11. Anonymous 01/20/2012

    Wage compression is the big one.

  12. Anonymous 01/20/2012

    Dog barks on Union

    For this old dog, the proposed union is mostly confusing. I have never been
    strongly consumed or motivated by salary issues ever since I signed on to higher ed.
    To me it was always a lower priority and I didn’t care too much about equity issues
    and comparators unless I thought I was grossly underpaid (i.e. earning 2/3 of
    what I think I should – if I am earning 10-15% its not worth it to me, to spend the mental and physical activity and time to correct this and usually I found that
    writing grants in shotgun mode was the answer.

    Now, what I am interested in is:

    a) modern research computing facilities
    b) modern teaching facilities and student production studios
    c) more internal competitive research funding so I waste less time writing proposals to 10 and 20 to 1 oversubscribed programs
    d) more lunch choices at the EMU

    Now, is the union gonna do anything about a,b,c and d? Improving those
    would make this dog bark much less than having a union that facilities a 5%
    pay raise for dogs.

  13. pro-union 01/20/2012

    Wage compression is not an argument against collective bargaining, but in favor. The vast majority of collective bargaining agreements do not establish salary ceilings, but salary floors, which of course vary according to discipline, rank, and so on. One method would be to peg the salary floor to a percentage of our comparator institution average, with a series of targets mapped out for each of the years covered by the contract. Under such a scheme, salary compression would be reduced, not exacerbated.

    Two things are crucial here. First, the arrangement would be a contract, not another set of cheery promises from administration. The latter would be legally obligated to follow through on the agreement and subject to the appropriate consequences if it reneged on the contract. Second, the scheme would be arrived at by an open process of negotiation between equal partners, not another decree handed down from on high.

  14. Anonymous 01/20/2012

    I looked at union contracts for tenured faculty that exist at other institutions. Some things concerned me. One contract had a mechanism for calculating teaching load based on the number of graduate students one mentored, in an attempt to recognize that effort. But like many well-intentioned things, that would lead to all sorts of bad incentives to churn through grad students. And I think that like any administrative structure, you take your chances that the leadership adds or detracts from any process. In my experience they usually detract.

  15. Anonymous 01/20/2012

    Sounds like a horrible bureaucracy to me – and one that we get to pay for. I sure hope this doesn’t happen. Salary floors? – yuck. Teaching load formulas? – double yuck. Please no!

    -little dawg

  16. Anonymous 01/20/2012

    “What are the arguments against a union.” Considering that they’re going to compel you to pay them several hundreds of dollars a year in dues, I think the onus is on them.

    Let’s just take the issue of salaries. The union claims they’ll make them better. What’s the evidence? Much was made of the fact that unionized PSU got raises this year. But part of the union’s argument was that PSU’s faculty were behind their comparators. Think about that for a moment. PSU’s tenure-track faculty have been unionized since 1978: if unions are good at protecting salaries, how did they get behind their comparators in the first place? Is paying 1% of your salary to a union really going to give you a positive return? Remember that non-union OSU faculty got raises too.

  17. Anonymous 01/20/2012

    See this paper for the most recent estimates on the effects of unions on the distribution of earnings. It does hurt the top on average. And within a setting like ours where the TTF make a lot more than the NTTF (like it or not and on average), who is going to be compressed??
    Probably the TTF.

  18. UO Matters 01/20/2012

    UO’s highest paid “professor” is Jim Bean, at $322K. Dave Frohnmayer is also near the top, at $201K. Maybe a little contract induced wage compression ould be a good idea.

  19. Anonymous 01/20/2012

    I worked for ten years in a research environment were unions were big. Not only a percentage of our salary was devoted to support unions, but also we had another layer of bureaucracy over us. Unions were telling what to or not to do to have some bargain power. And it was not pleasant if you were not participating. Besides the union people were just colleagues, whom we maybe didn’t like. Think about having your unpleasant colleague in that position. Which brings my next question: I am wondering how the leaders of the union at the UofO have been chosen. The one pushing for the union in my dept. is a nightmare from hell of a colleague. I am looking forward for him to have a little more power over me (sarcastic here).

  20. a former union member 01/20/2012

    It is simply grotesque to think of tenure-track faculty as members of the “proletariat” or working class. What happens to their managerial function (which is considerable)? Is it even allowed to continue to exist under labor law?

    What will happen is that TTF will have to deal with two sets of bosses, the administration and the union. And both relationships will be adversarial. It’s already adversarial with the administration? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

    What will be the adversarial relationship between the TTF and the NTTF? Well, let’s start with salaries. The NTTF salaries will be raised to the TTF level? Don’t bet on it! There’s absolutely nothing to make one think there will be a bigger pie to split up as a result of the union. Try talking about that to the legislature! And you think you’re going to be able to jack up tuition even faster? I wouldn’t hold my breath.

    Or maybe the answer is to cut back on non-faculty staff and salaries? Oops, now we’re talking about the OA’s.

    There are simply too many incompatible, conflicting interests to make this particular stew palatable. If I were a Marxist, I might even say the class interests make it unworkable.

  21. Anonymous 01/20/2012

    Think a union is going to help contain administrative bloat, athletic overspending, and corruption? Let’s look at how some of the research universities with TTF unions (as listed in the UA pamphlet) are doing on that front:

    * SUNY-Buffalo: secret presidential search and rising administrative salaries (; more than half its athletic department paid for by academic subsidies (

    * Rutgers: athletic department is #1 in the BCS at taking money away from academics (; golden parachute for former president (

    * SDSU: gave a $100,000 pay raise to the president amid major cuts and tuition increases (

    * University of Connecticut: second-biggest athletic subsidy in the BCS after Rutgers (

    That’s just the first few I looked at. Anybody want to google some of the others?

  22. Anonymous 01/21/2012

    It sounds like what we need is a good president that puts academics first to deal with these issues. That would be much more effective than a union IMHO.

  23. Anonymous 01/21/2012

    The UO now has a strong Constitution to support the Faculty’s responsibility in governing the university. This retiree hopes that the Faculty will take it for a test run before deciding that unionization is the way to go. (He also doubts that he would have taken a job here if the Faculty had been unionized.)

  24. pro-union 01/21/2012

    A determined president can and will ignore the new constitution — which also defines the purview of the Senate in narrow terms that could easily be construed to exclude anything relating to the terms of employment (i.e., the themes a collective bargaining agreement would address). A president who ignored the constitution would pay a heavy political price. But there would little, legally, to stop her/him.

    A collective bargaining agreement can make the constitution legally binding. Most contracts that I’m aware of entail the existing constitutions and procedures, so that if a president ignored them, he/she would be subject to litigation. A collective bargaining agreement can, in other words, can and will strengthen the Senate’s position in its dealings with the president.

  25. Anonymous 01/21/2012

    Even a president fully following the constitution can do whatever he/she wants and pay only a political price. That is because under the constitution, the president has final say and final veto with no override. Making the constitution contractually binding is not going to change that. But I could imagine that if a union tried to put the constitution into a contract, a president might view that as an opportunity to renegotiate the constitution and/or extract concessions in exchange.

    • pro-union 01/21/2012

      I can imagine that too. I can also imagine that if a president tried that, the remaining opposition to collective bargaining would evaporate.

  26. Anonymous 01/21/2012

    This Old Man doesn’t get it. Some of the Comments above sound like declarations of war. Don’t you guys know the war is over? Frohnmayer and Moseley are GONE. The remaining Dead-Enders are on the skids. Faculty and Administration CAN work together to restore this University. You want something changed? Bring a Motion to the Senate defining the change. Be specific. Faculty governance can work!

  27. Anonymous 01/21/2012

    Old Men are wise. Having a self-appointed group of people to represent me will be worst than the present situation, as the union will weaken my own power of obtaining changes through the existing mechanisms of faculty governance.

  28. Anonymous 01/22/2012

    Union dues are tax deductible as employee expenses, but you have to get over the 2% hurdle.

  29. Anonymous 01/23/2012

    I can tell you that the AAUP at my prior institution helped us prevent the “cash-cowing” of graduate students our administration tried to encourage. It also allowed us to push for a living wage for those grad assistants, something impossible before the union. After watching top-down governance and seeing what’s happening to public education in other states, the “wait and see” approach to unionization is sort of like refusing to close the gate because the horse hasn’t escaped yet. A union isn’t a cure-all and can’t (shouldn’t) be involved in every single issue of university governance. But it is an essential protection for the quality of instruction and staffing.

    No matter how much pie-in-the-sky happy happy “we can work hand in hand with the administration” feeling one chooses to espouse or accept, the administration does NOT actually see faculty or staff resources in this light, and just because it takes on this sheen now does not mean it will continue to do so. Salary floors and workload standards are only “yech” because you haven’t been pushed through them against your will yet…but growing institutions have a way of changing character when the profit motive obtains free rein. I’m watching the UO go the same way that several other institutions of my acquaintance have gone in the last 30 years, and this moment of growth is not a good time for faculty, staff, and students to rely on the largess of administrators.

  30. Anonymous 01/23/2012

    OR and faculty should not be in the same union. If there is a conflict both parties would be going to the same person to solve it. Major conflict of interest.
    Everywhere I have worked Unions don’t work well. They take money and become corrupt, bureaucratic, and a waste of time. They excel on mob mentality and in the end only care about getting the money from the dues.
    If the faculty choose to unionize it will put more pressure on OAs to do the same. This would only hurt OAs and we would get as screwed as the classified staff already are. If you are on the fence please consider the impact of your actions on the others of the University.

  31. Anonymous 01/23/2012

    “There are simply too many incompatible, conflicting interests to make this particular stew palatable.”

    If that is true, then we may as well throw in the towel now. Those conditions, along with a limited pie, exist union or not. The only question is whether a union helps or not. The jury is still out on that.

    Whether we go union or not, all faculty had better start showing up in greater numbers and participating in faculty governance. We have given too much away and are now drifting so far from our core mission of teaching and research we may never get back.

    One of the most important issues of faculty governance right now concerns how out of control and hidden the costs of “administration” are. The only things rising faster than tuition for our students are the numbers and salaries of administrators. And for what?

    I see questions all the time about the value of higher education. On the ground, I see faculty have their activities questioned. They get evaluated by students and administrators. They submit to tenure and post tenure review processes or promotion processes that seek to uncover the “value” of their activities.

    I have never seen one administrator go through a similar process on their own activities. I had 3 administrators in my office recently to discuss my “workload”. No kidding – 3. I guess, with their collective wisdom and high pay they couldn’t figure out who was supposed to do what. And don’t tell me that administrators being evaluated by other administrators is the same thing. They have every incentive to protect each other.

    One small act of rebellion repeated can send a message. Next time an administrator engages in some evaluation of your work, refuse to participate until they can demonstrate an equally critical evaluation of their work.

    Let’s demand, as a faculty, that administrators be subject to critical and transparent evaluation from all levels. Time to pull back the curtain.

    Enough is enough.

    • Anonymous 02/13/2012

      “Whether we go union or not, all faculty had better start showing up in greater numbers and participating in faculty governance.”
      On Wed. Feb. 22, 3 PM in the Jock Box, the Senate plans a discussion on several policy proposals that have been hung up in Johnson Hall for far too long – in fact, for unconstitutionally long. The planned discussion is likely to focus on both the content of the proposals and on the inability of JH to get their act together (with due allowance for the temporary nature of recent presidents and provosts).
      This Old Man does not know what the hang-ups have been, but he is willing to venture some guesses.
      1. On Academic Freedom and Freedom of Speech. On Monday, July 18, 2011 1:19 PM, Randy Geller wrote, “The policy on academic freedom and freedom of speech is also not within the scope of the senate’s authority, but the president welcomes senate participation. No administrative rule is necessary because the subject pertains only to employees. Nevertheless, the State Board has an administrative rule on academic freedom. The senate’s initial draft of the policy reflected a conception of academic freedom and freedom of speech that greatly exceeded what the State Board contemplates and also vastly exceeds what the law provides. Further, the initial draft infringes upon areas of responsibility committed to the president as the executive and governing officer of the university.”
      It looks to me as though GC Geller still doesn’t get it. We all know that Prexy has final word on everything, but the UO Constitution spells out exactly how that final word shall be expressed — either by presidential acceptance of actions by the Senate or Assembly, or by veto of actions of the Assembly. GC Geller appears to think that this authority (granted by State Law to Prexy) means that the Senate should shut up.
      GC Geller’s objection to the Senate’s proposal were not spelled out in the letter, but, in addition to the generalized objection quoted above, I’ve heard it said that the policies protecting campus free speech, while fine in principle, should not be included in employment contracts, perhaps because they are then enforceable, or because the GC doesn’t like to write contracts for lesser beings.
      2. Facilities use: Geller seems to lean to the view that members of the Statutory Faculty (the UO’s governing body by State Statute) should not have the right to reserve UO Facilities, such as halls for meetings or invited speakers. Those rights are only for Administrative Units and for Student Groups. Faculty go home.
      3. A third policy may well come up for discussion. This one regards campus research conducted in secrecy. The policy since 1965 has forbidden such research using UO facilities. The Policy Library now contains a new policy, which never came to the Senate, which forbids only Federally classified research, altering the intent of the policy of 1965. President Bob signed it after being told that the change was only technical.
      I believe that GC Geller was fully aware of the Senate’s interest in this policy, Others in the Administration probably were as well.
      The Senate meeting of Feb 22 promises to be a first round in a fight that the University’s Middle Management seems to be itching for. The future of the UO as an educational institution depends on its outcome. The Old Man thinks the only way the Faculty can lose is if they fail to show up for the bell.

    • Anonymous 02/14/2012

      Re. Campus research conducted in secrecy. Old Man notes that the Policy on classified research, posted a week or more ago (the one signed by President Bob as a technical change) has disappeared from the web site and been replaced by the 1967 version (sorry about the 1965 date in posting above). The site now says the policy is under revision as of 2-10-12. Old Man feels a surge of optimism.

  32. Anonymous 01/24/2012

    Who will bring a motion to the Senate that sets up a machinery by which the Faculty can evaluate the Administrators?

  33. Anonymous 02/13/2012

    there are already rules and mechanisms on the books, but there are 2 problems, one is that the review is typically triggered, if at all at reappointment after 5 years, witgh litlle or no accountability in central administration in the interim, whereas dept heads, deans, etc, are eld accountable by their proximity to smart people who have enough information to make a difference. How could we make that work for central administrators? Implementation and timing of reviews are of course, worse the worse the surrounding administration. On both this issue and faculty involvement in governance, might be time to remember the adage’set a thief to catch a thief’

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