Press "Enter" to skip to content

Faculty union, faculty governance, new Constitution

1/29/2012: Many people are wondering if a faculty union would strengthen or weaken existing faculty governance. For example, could the union write the new UO Constitution into a contract and then have legal recourse if our administration walked all over it? What about the Policy on Policies? One of the union organizers forwards some info that might help people make up their minds on this:

I found two contracts that illustrate how a union contract can reinforce faculty governance.  The first is in the current University of Delaware contract that can be found at, article XVII. Our situation is a little different because we have a constitution that could be specifically endorsed.  The Portland State contract has a better example of wording since they are also governed by OARs and have a constitution.  They have just signed a tentative agreement on a new contract and it still needs to come to a vote of the members, so the contract through 2011 is current and can be found at

The second link has a lot of info on the PSU AAUP union. I haven’t read the contracts, comments on the substance welcome.


  1. pro-union 01/29/2012

    It’s common practice to write existing constitutions and procedures into collective bargaining agreement — assuming that’s what the membership wants. Everyone I know in United Academics supports the new constitution and is eager to make it legally binding. That would include procedures for arriving at changes to constitutions and procedures, so a bargaining agreement need not interfere with the normal process of amendment.

  2. Anonymous 01/30/2012

    As the Constitution now stands, there are no restrictions on the issues that can be legislated by the Senate. Should we wonder whether some budgetary matters become off-limits for a Senate, or Assembly, most of whose members are union members?

  3. Anonymous 01/30/2012

    The Senate is limited to “Academic” concerns – I forget the exact wording but it does require interpretation. In theory, anything the University does impacts or is reflective of academics but it’s not interpreted that way.

  4. Anonymous 01/30/2012

    In the Constitution, there is no itemized definition of “Academic” for the practical reason that such a list would limit the action of the Senate. The Senate can discuss anything it considers to be of academic relevance. If it passes legislation or policy to which the President objects (on any ground), the Senate and President are bound by the Constitution to try to reach an understanding. If that fails, an Assembly will be called. If, after due debate, the Assembly upholds the Senate position, the matter is settled in favor of the Senate, unless the President issues a written explanation (veto) for why the action is not in the best interests of the University. The Committee that created the Constitution, the Faculty Assembly that endorsed it unanimously, and the President who ratified it consider it a strong document in favor of shared governance in a State (Oregon) that gives ultimate legal authority to the President. Yes, in the absence of a legally binding contract a President can ignore the Constitution — at the risk of being met by pitchforks and torches on the steps of Johnson Hall. The Constitution can work, but only if the Faculty exercises fully the governance authority that was imposed upon it by the State Charter — and keeps their metaphorical pitchforks handy. Old Man thinks that unionization would represent a retreat from the beleaguered ideals of the Academy. (However, Old Man is no longer on the payroll, so he can afford to be idealistic.)

  5. Anonymous 01/30/2012

    Some relevant text from PSU Collective Bargaining Agreement on University rights and on the role of the Constitution:

    The University retains and reserves to itself all rights, powers, authority, and responsibilities vested in it, whether exercised or not, including but not limited to the right to plan, govern, and control the University; and in all respects carry out its ordinary and customary functions of management’ including the ability to ascertain whether or not a member of the bargaining unit is meeting responsibilities as defined in Article 4 (RESPONSIBILITIES OF MEMBERS).All such rights, powers, authority and responsibilities are retained by the University subject only to those limitations expressly imposed by this Agreement. Without limiting the foregoing, the University expressly reserves the right to make final decisions with respect to members to appoint, reappoint, promote, or award indefinite tenure to them.”

    Section 1. The University recognizes the paramount importance of academic freedom in an institution of higher education and reaffirms its continuing commitment to the protection of the principles of academic freedom, as defined in OAR 580-022-0005.

    Section 2. Notwithstanding the exclusive right of the association to negotiate and reach agreement on terms and conditions of employment, recognized in Article I (RECOGNITION), and the right of the University to carryout its ordinary and customary functions of management,recognized in Article 5 (RESERVED RIGHTS OF THE UNIVERSITY, the parties agree that it is mutually desirable that the collegial system of shared governance be maintained and strengthened so that faculty will have a mechanism and procedures, independent of collective bargaining, for appropriate participation in the governance of the University. To that effect, the Portland State University Faculty Constitution shall remain in existence for the duration of this Agreement subject to the provisions of Oregon University System IMD 1.120 through L.I26.

    Section 3.
    (a) Except as provided in Subsection þ) of this section, Sections 1 and 2 of this Article are statements of intent and policy and are not subject to Article 23 (RESOLUTION OF DISPUTES) of this Agreement.
    (b) An allegation that the Faculty Constitution has been abrogated is grievable.
    (c) Alleged misapplication or misinterpretation of the Faculty Constitution is not subject to Article 28 (RESOLUTION OF DISPUTES) of this Agreement, but such allegations maybe grieved through other University grievance procedures.”

    So, as per the CBA, the Constitution is “mutually desirable” and sections referring to the Constitution are statements of “intent and policy” but not subject to CBA grievance procedures except where it is alleged that the University has unilaterally repealed or done away with parts of the constitution.

    That’s how they did it. I’d recommend anyone interested in what a union might look like here and how it might approach salaries, benefits and other agreements, read the PSU CBA.

  6. Anonymous 01/30/2012

    thanks to old man for injecting some reality some more hard facts are: 1)that any kind of management prerogative not directly related to wages and working conditions, including current governance structures are not mandatory bargaining items. employer can refuse to bargain, and union has no recourse we don’t already have. 2) if you don’t join the union, then you have no voice in the union, but if you do join the union, you can be fined if you don’t toe-the-line with union rules, such as deciding you prefer to teach or wotk on your research somewhere on campus when the union decides to strike. I agree with old man that nion is a retreat from academic ideals.what else do we really have but those? AAUP used to help organize and reinforce faculty governance by keeping info flowing and occasionally organizing pitchforks and gathering tar and featers, but it has abandoned that role and now only pushes a union agenda. does anyone really think union leaders are any better or more competent? where were union organizers in aaup and aft during the last year’s troubles? missing in action.

  7. Anonymous 01/30/2012

    Many at the AAUP, as do many union supporters on this campus, recognize that “old man’s” vision of governance at the level of the University is not sufficient to respond to state level dynamics, much less our own UO President. We need some teeth (or the metaphorical “pitchforks”) at both levels. Why surrender your academic ideals simply because you have constructed/adopted a narrow/ideologically inflected belief about a faculty union? Instead, update/reflect on your beliefs about a faculty union and bring those academic ideals front and center to that union?! You will find others who share them!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *