Online petition for secret ballot election

3/29/2012: Dan Dugger in math and some other faculty are organizing an online petition to the ERB, asking for a secret ballot election rather than accept the card check petition. I believe that the law requires the ERB be given written signatures, but Dan says:

NOTE: ERB will *consider* the results of an online petition, but they are not bound by rule to have the special election unless the signatures are handwritten. Since that would be impossible to obtain during spring break, right now we are going with the online petition just to see if we can make a good case.

Note that this petition is distinct from the earlier petition to the ERB requesting that TTF’s be kept out of the union, here. That seems to have topped out at 290 sigs. The union website is here. They have not responded to either petition.

A link to new petition letter is here: http://sites.google.com/site/petitionletter/ but if you wish to add your name you should go to https://sites.google.com/site/cardano67 Here is Dan’s message in full, which I’m posting at his request:

A petition to the Oregon ERB has been organized asking for a special election on union formation. We hope that this is something that will have broad support: among pro-union and anti-union, TTF and NTTF, etc.

The petition is here:

https://sites.google.com/site/cardano67

The hope is that such an election would give the campus a chance to further discuss these issues and, most of all, give EVERYONE INVOLVED a vote. This is to be contrasted wth the card-check process, which has operated largely behind closed doors; even more, it culminated in an announcement that took place at the busiest time of the term for us academics—followed by a period where many of us are off campus–and thereby limited the opportunities for discussion and engagement.

If the election is held, it will be administered by ERB according to their rules, and will operate via a secret ballot. Right now we are trying to gauge campus support for having such an election. The question is whether 30% of the bargaining unit supports it, where in the present case the bargaining unit seems to be defined to be the set of all TTF, NTTF, and ORs, excluding members of the law school. I have heard conflicting reports of whether retired professors are in the bargaining unit (I know this sounds strange). But since it seems to be true that retired professors have signed cards, this seems to imply that they can also sign this petition.

NOTE: ERB will *consider* the results of an online petition, but they are not bound by rule to have the special election unless the signatures are handwritten. Since that would be impossible to obtain during spring break, right now we are going with the online petition just to see if we can make a good case.

I hope you will sign this petition. But even more, I am writing with a REQUEST FOR HELP. We hope to soon send out the mass email below, but with a handful of signatures attached. It would be nice if these were signatures from across the different groups (various schools or departments, NTTF/OR/TTF, pro- and anti-union), demonstrating that a special election is in the best interests of everyone.

If you are willing to have your name attached to the letter below, which will go out to most of the bargaining unit, please email me.

This might be a disaster if I get too many emails, but I’m willing to risk it. I am especially asking for your help if you are

a) in favor of the union b) an NTTF or OR (in favor or against union, it doesn’t matter)

If you are in class (a) or (b), it would help if you could tell me that in your email.

To be clear, it is one thing to sign your name to a public petition;

it is another to sign your name to a document publicly ASKING people to sign a petition. I am looking for both, but I’m only asking that you email me if you are in the latter category.

I have appended the proposed letter, together with the (very short) full text of the petition.

Thank you,

Dan Dugger Department of Mathematics ddugger AT uoregon DOT edu

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28 Responses to Online petition for secret ballot election

  1. Anonymous says:

    I, too, find Pope’s comments alarmingly dismissive. Important information was missing during the card-check process (in fact, the bargaining unit changed after many cards were signed!). To now say that this information doesn’t matter because you doubt it would have influenced the outcome is disturbing to say the least.

  2. Daniel Pope says:

    How could Chicken not have known the bargaining unit was to combine TTF and NTTF? This has been United Academics’ position throughout. Supporters and opponents have discussed it in public forums, in print and online literally for years. We made no attempt to trick anyone into signing or to hide this fact. Since we didn’t solicit cards from PI’s and Law School faculty, how could anyone in these categories claim he “could not have known” what he was signing?

    • Anonymous says:

      Did the card signers all know that PIs and Law School were excluded?

    • Chicken says:

      My point is that when you sign something official, what that thing says matters. Otherwise, there’s no way to establish a common understanding shared by the many hundreds who gave their signatures. I’ll grant you that anyone who signed without knowing that TTF and NTTF would be combined was probably living under a rock — even though that most basic fact was left off of the card, so who really knows for sure? But how many signers knew that PIs and the Law School would end up being excluded via some arbitrary, last-minute, opaque decision? Given how controversial those exclusions have proved to be, how many would have withheld their signatures had they known about them?

      What the ERB petition says, what the card says, and what the website/organizers said — up until the day the petition was filed — are three different things. Anyone who consulted the website/organizers for clarity on what the vaguely phrased card meant would still have been surprised by the petition.

    • Cat says:

      I’m with Chicken. Prof. Pope’s position, the one the union organizers keep repeating, covers the fact that while the final petition to the ERB was clear as a bell about the bargaining unit, the website was not and the card was not. I had a long discussion with my local union organizer, a friend, and, yes, we thoroughly discussed the pros and cons–in our respective views–of putting NTTF and TTF in the same union. But research assistants were never mentioned; excluding PIs was never mentioned. (And how many TTF fall in this category, I’d still like someone to tell me.) And I talked to a pal in the Law School just a week or two before the cards were submitted, and the idea of excluding the Law faculty was just being raised.

      Were you tricking anyone, Prof. Pope? Hiding anything? No. But you guys did drop the ball. Try admitting it and dealing with the consequences, instead of just trotting out the same tired old line: “we had a public forum!”

    • Daniel Pope says:

      Do Professors Cat, Chicken and Anon 8:12 think that some people signed cards because they thought that PIs and Law faculty were in the proposed bargaining unit and wouldn’t have signed had they known otherwise? I suppose that’s logically possible, but I strongly doubt it made a difference to the vast majority of signers.

      The real issue for the opponents seems to be the combination of NTTF and TTF in the same unit, and I’m glad Cat and Chicken recognize that this was fully aired beforehand.

      As for researchers, here’s the language on the United Academics FAQ page: “3. Why are we creating a bargaining unit that includes Tenure-Track Faculty (TTF), Non-Tenure-Track Faculty (NTTF) and researchers together?” You may not agree with the answer, but if the topic of researchers didn’t come up in conversations with organizers, isn’t this likely because it wasn’t a decisive factor those considering whether to sign?

      Some Law School faculty members, as Peter Keyes explained elsewhere on UOMatters, said they’d use their formidable legal talents to exclude the Law School from the bargaining unit. I regret that myself, but from the little I know they have at least some precedent on their side–including, I believe, an Oregon ERB ruling from the late 1970s, when there was a faculty unionization attempt here, excluding the law school from the proposed bargaining unit. (Here I’m relying on memory; I can’t cite documentary evidence.)

      Did United Academics “drop the ball”? I’d say we carried it in a direction that others don’t want to go. The disagreement isn’t surprising, but the vehemence of the hostility (I’m not referring to Cat, Chicken or 8:12 here) is truly unfortunate. We need a broad-based union to represent the common interests of the faculty, not to pit one group against another.

    • Anonymous says:

      I am a PI TTF. I think it is unfortunate that my participation with my fellow TTF in the union is valued less than the union wanting to include ORs (although I think an OR union is needed). I don’t like reading that the union will represent “TTF” when there are TTF clearly not being represented. You pose hypotheticals that this would not be an important factor. And yet, I suspect some signers would care that their peers are being excluded.

    • Anonymous says:

      Professor Pope asks if some believe that people signed cards who would not have signed cards if they actually knew the bargaining unit. Yes, this is true. Of course it may be only a small number of people, but there are certainly some.

      More to the point, many of us do _not_ believe a majority of the TTF support this union (the UAUO has made that claim). Of course it is possible that by excluding the Law School (opposed to the union) and many scientists (also strongly opposed to the union) the situation has been tweaked so that a majority of the _remaining_ TTF support the union. We can’t know this since the UAUO still will not tell us how many TTF voted for the union.

      Professor Pope also claims the need for a broad-based union. Those who signed cards thought they were signing cards for a union that would represent all people who taught at the UO. Instead the UAUO traded away some of those who teach in exchange for including ORs (who don’t usually teach). Coincidentally, the teachers they traded away were mostly opposed to the union, and the ORs they added were mostly in favor. No doubt this is a complete coincidence in the service of better representing the UO faculty.

      I think you have to be simple-minded not to question the UAUO’s motives on this.

    • Anonymous says:

      Pope cites the union’s FAQ. Let’s take a look:

      “2. Who will the United Academics bargaining unit include, and who will the collective bargaining contract cover?

      Included in the unit and covered by the contract are all faculty (tenure-related and non-tenure-track), research assistants/associates, and post-doctoral scholars.”

      Why was the answer to question 2 different than what was submitted to the ERB? It’s either sloppy or deceptive.

      Now to question 3 which was cited by Pope.

      “3. Why are we creating a bargaining unit that includes TTF and NTTF and researchers together?

      Instructional and research faculty at UO have more in common than we have differences—a commitment to the research and educational missions of the university, concerns with the terms of our employment, compensation, benefits, and job security, and a desire for transparency, equity, and a powerful voice… “

      The answer doesn’t address any significant issues. By the stated criteria, everyone in the university, including administrators, should be in the union. The real FAQ that should be addressed is why researchers are included when it is at the expense of a significant population of TTF. Looking at questions 2 and 3, however, it is likely a reader wouldn’t be aware of this issue. Given what I’ve seen from the union so far, I have to agree with anon@12:04 questioning UAUO’s motives on this issue. This apparent “win at all costs” attitude may be the driver of the vehement hostility Pope is so surprised by.

  3. Chicken says:

    What concerns *me* is that the card I was asked to sign made no mention of the composition of the bargaining unit — not TTF vs. NTTF, not the exclusion of the law school and PIs, not the inclusion of the ORs. All it does is name UAUO — an organization without an identifiable platform and without identifiable leadership — as a bargaining agent. Some people did not know what they were signing, but — here’s the more important point — most people *could not have known* what they were signing. That opens up the card-check process to some pretty serious objections, it seems to me.

  4. Cat says:

    What bugs me, Anon 8:14, is all the supposedly high-minded but ultimately ungrounded talk about “democracy” that union-supporters and -organizers throw around. Why is a card check inherently more “democratic” than a secret-ballot election? In reality, they are simple different methods of polling a population. For various reasons, most governments poll their citizens through secret-ballot elections. Most governmental bodies themselves do not vote in secret. In my faculty dept, we mostly vote by a (not secret) show of hands–except in certain circumstances, most especially promotion and hiring, when we vote by secret ballot.

    As I have said before, I am not among those casting aspersions on either the card-check process or on the integrity of those who carried it out. But I do support a secret ballot election. What do the pro-union folks have to fear? For everyone who felt pressured to turn in a card, and would prefer secretly to vote against unionization, there is surely someone else who felt pressured not to sign a card who will vote secretly in support. And, as Anon 11:44 points out, we’d also have a clear count of those who are actually ambivlent and abstain from voting–who right now are counted either as No’s or as Yesses. Surely there is a reason the ERB has a program for such a secret ballot among their standard procedures.

    And meanwhile, as should be obvious to union organizers, there are a lot of concerns that have emerged–most especially about the bargaining unit–after the card check process that they frankly didn’t address, or address adequately, in all their fora and petitions and other events. I’m sure they’re frustrated that all that hard work isn’t leading to a definitive, uncontested conclusion.

    But, unlike democracy, which generally stipulates terms of service before another election tests whether an individual or law or regime should continue, my understanding is that once unionization goes forward we’re stuck more or less permenently with a unionized faculty. There will be no later card check or secret ballot process to test whether two or four or ten years from now a majority still want it. So people are right to call for as many safeguards–democratic all–to be sure we really do know what the majority wants now.

  5. Raghu Parthasarathy / Physics says:

    It sounds in principle like the card check process would be a more thorough and more fair polling of faculty and others as nicely described by Anon 8:14 at 9:53. (Don’t you people have names? Even made-up ones?) One of the key problems in practice is that with the card check, the basic question of who is in the bargaining unit (and the related question of *why* people are in or not in the bargaining unit) is very unclear. I still don’t know if I (TTF) am considered part of the bargaining unit or not, and how this status will fluctuate over time. I don’t know about the status of others in my department, which would be important for considering the merits of a union that would ‘split’ department faculty. I can assure you that I’m not the only one who is confused, and who doesn’t know if he/she was counted in the “denominator” of the >50% card check calculation.

    One of the virtues of an election is that it would (I would think) make it clear what the composition of the union is — i.e. I would or wouldn’t get a ballot depending on whether I’m part of the bargaining unit or not. I admit it sounds bizarre to ask for an election to clarify something this basic. Some ‘official’ statements from union organizers could be very helpful.

    Note that I also consider various points on the petition to be very sensible; I’m only commenting here on this one issue of clearly identifying the bargaining unit.

  6. Anon 8:14 says:

    Anon 9:03, how does a “secret ballot” which would be a mail-in ballot in this state, and is limited to a majority of only those who turnout/respond, be more complete than the nearly 100% poll of the faculty that occurred with the card check, where a majority of TTF signed a card and every single faculty member had a chance to say Yes or No to sign a card? And, where EVERY absentee ballot, every abstention, every procastination, and every NO, counted as a NO and only the affirmatives counted as a YES. The card check is a much more robust, higher burden test of support for the faculty.
    I also want you to feel comfortable, I just do not see how the mystique of the ‘secret ballot’ would shed any more light than is already there, especially as it would be open to even greater contestation, abstention, absenteeism, and ultimately ambiguity.

    • Anonymous says:

      We still don’t have any idea what sort of “majority” of TTF signed cards. UAUO hasn’t released that information, and various polls throw real doubt on whether the majority of the TTF support unionization for themselves.

      We also hear stories about people who don’t have strong opinions being cajoled into signing cards on the grounds that not signing a card is a “no” vote.

      The card check process turns out also to be the opposite of secret, and again, there are reports of the union reps reporting to colleagues who in their department has not signed a card and asking colleagues to put pressure on that person.

      As far as abstention goes, abstention should be an acceptable choice.

  7. Anonymous says:

    anon of 08:14.

    very unfortunate choice of words here. unionizing means a major shift for faculty and for the university. and tho I am undecided about the value of doing so, I also want to feel comfortable that the TTF faculty really do support the change.

    I have no doubt about the fact that the NTTF will benefit from the union, and should be allowed to do so.

    In brief: this is an important decision and tho not all will want to be part of a union, it is very important that we understand that the majority of the TTF do indeed want to take this step. I simply do not agree that the card check system, tho legally accepted, is the best way to determine what faculty are ready to do, and having a secret vote would remove that doubt.

    • Anonymous says:

      I certainly think it is possible that some NTTF will benefit from a union. But as far as NTTF benefitting in general from a union here, I would ask those who are sure of that to consider which NTTF (if any) are better off at (say) PSU.

      Salaries are generally lower, cost of living is higher. Oh, and while UOs career NTTF got raises this spring, PSU’s NTTF got wage freezes and furloughs.

      Again, I’m not asserting a union can’t be useful. But before spending 1-2% of my pay, I’d really like to see examples of similar universities where one can make a plausible claim that the NTTF are better off _because_ of the union than they would be otherwise.

    • Anonymous says:

      From my experience, you won’t get a satisfactory answer to this question – instead you’ll be reminded of Bean’s beamer payments. Union supporters have been great at pointing out problems around here to whip everyone into a frenzy (majority? how about mob rules?) but they’ve been very short on solutions. I guess it will all be worked out in CBA negotiations. Why am I skeptical?

    • Puppy says:

      Not all NTTF’s got raises last Spring. I didn’t despite the highest performance eval possible. How was it decided who got them? I want more transparency and Predictable processes and policies – not be at the mercy of the whims of sometimes incompetent or unethical admins. Don’t know if a union does that or not, but that’s what I want. I hope whatever happens, that all the TTF reading these blogs take a hard look at the NTTF in your area and help hold admins accountable for how they are treated. That approach has been suggested as an alternative to a union but it will take widespread action to mean anything.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sorry but the current political environment has made the raise procedure screwy to say the least. In “normal” times, you would have received some base COLA along with a merit component determined by the performance evaluation. One only has to look back to Lariviere’s firing to understand the political environment we’re working in. The union won’t change this one bit.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Once again the anti-union faculty seem to think the criticism that United Academics “operated largely behind closed doors” has a basis in fact – organizing cmte members of United Academics offered thousands of conversations, open forums, public events, and planned for over two years for an election via card check to begin during or around the winter of 2012, preceded by fall 2011 conversations, public events, senate forum, a mass petition drive, etc. Hmm, behind closed doors? Now, with the facade of objectivity and inclusion, the promise of a, ooohhh, secret ballot (i.e, a mail in ballot), is offered to us, to ‘include’ everyone, as if the NO vote in a non-signed card is not equivalent to a “no” on a mail-in ballot.
    Of course, Don and Hal’s email request NEVER divulge to the faculty their intent, which is a bit more obvious on this blog post above, but is NOT disclosed in their petition or email to the faculty – that (a) they are opposed to a faculty union and (b) that they wish to thwart the election that has already taken place, and (c) that they will use their colleagues signatures to upend the democratic process that has already occurred.
    Criticize united academics? You guys can’t even tell the faculty your intent and your anti-union bias – at least every union supporting colleague who ever visited my office had the integrity to tell me their position, explicitly, with their intent.

    • Anonymous says:

      This kind of diatribe is just as unhelpful as the I-see-ulterior-motives-in-everything anti-union push back. Does it not occur to you that there’s a simple reason to trust a secret ballot more than a card check? I have met two colleagues in CAS who voted for the union and whose decision may have been different otherwise. In one case, the colleague felt he/she could not say no to a staunchly pro-union senior colleague from the same dept. In another case, the colleague felt overwhelmed with having to making a spot decision without the chance to thoroughly weigh anti-union concerns (quite possibly this colleague’s decision would have been the same). A secret ballot does everything a card check does, and more.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, employers all across the American south – so-called right to work states – love the secret ballot, the low turnout, the prevalence of employer influence and incentives to submit the ballot, the anti-union free-reign over the workplace communication systems, and more. Employers loathe the card check, and unions in general. No surprise that anti-union voices here think it is the paragon of democracy and reject democracy that actually happened.

    • Anon 8:14 says:

      Except turnout! And therefore generality.

    • Anonymous says:

      Anon 10:42’s comments likening the UO to employers in the American south encapsulates one of the reasons unions among faculty are so embarrassing. We’re _not_ low-paid, high danger workers like coal miners (well, they are actually well paid now, but only because of the union) or garment workers. We _don’t_ live in communities where we’ve been denied education and life choices and have to work as interchangeable parts of a factory culture. We _don’t_ have ownership making huge profits off the sweat of our backs.

      We are educated people who have made choices about how to spend our lives and what jobs to take. I’m not trying to be a Pollyanna; certainly some of us have jobs that could be better, and not everyone is treated the same – sometimes for good reasons, and sometimes for reasons not so good.

      Unionization will shift things around. Some people will still get treated unfairly, but probably different ones. But all you have to do is look at union negotiations and public salaries among organized public workers in Oregon to realize that unionization is not going to net us “workers” a bigger share of the “profits.”

      Pages 3-4 of the link that uomatters posted here: http://www.psuaaup.net/Summer2011newsletter.pdf should dash a little cold water on the hopes that unionization will improve salaries at UO. (It’s been pointed out before, but it is worth repeating: salaries at PSU are below that of UO even though cost of living is higher. Also unionized employees of UO and other OUS institutions got the salary freezes and furloughs that UO faculty missed out on.)

    • Anonymous says:

      If the pro-union side is not relying on obfuscation and subterfuge, then answer one question straight up without dancing misdirection: why are the law faculty not included in the bargaining unit? Don’t answer: they were consulted, there is precedent for excluding them, or ask the law faculty. There are the type of smoke and mirror answers that keep getting posted on UO Matters. Did the union organizers ask every single law faculty member and they all declined? Did they threaten legal action if they were included? Do other schools and colleges at UO have the right to be excluded from the bargaining unit if they so desire? Did the union organizers proactively exclude them from the bargaining unit because they knew they would primarily vote no and the organizers are trying to ensure a majority yes? Stop speaking in riddles and explain. This is one example of why people don’t trust the union organizers.

  9. Anonymous says:

    There seems to be no way to submit signatures on this petition.

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