UI – Chicago union to split TTF and NTTF

Will affect the debate at UO on this same issue. In the Chronicle today, here:

The leaders of an effort to unionize faculty members at the University of Illinois at Chicago have abandoned the idea of forming a single collective-bargaining unit representing both tenure-track and non-tenure-track faculty members, and instead have asked the university system to voluntarily recognize separate bargaining units for each of the two populations. In an open letter to top system officials issued on Tuesday, Joseph Persky, president of the UIC United Faculty, a campus affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and the American Association of University Professors, said his organization disagrees with, but has chosen not to challenge, a March 22 state appeals-court ruling that held that Illinois law precludes adjuncts from being part of collective-bargaining units for tenured and tenure-track faculty.

The UO Matters union Meta-FAQ is here. Link to petition from some faculty to keep all TTF out of union is here. The union website is here. Long 2011 Chronicle story on joint unions here. The IHE story on this today notes that the university wants the union to restarted the card check, rather than cooperate voluntarily. I thought everything that could be said on this had been said – but this certainly adds a wrinkle – please post any new comments here.

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28 Responses to UI – Chicago union to split TTF and NTTF

  1. Anonymous says:

    As for the illinois case. in ecerty circumsance i’m aware of labor relations law prohibits employers from granting exclusiv representation rights to a particular union without the relevant legal process. exclusive representation for a particular group of employees is a right that group of employees petitions for. neither the employer nor a different group of employees may do so. that is but one of the problems with the ‘fluid’ definition of the bargaining unit in our case.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I’ll put it this way. The TTF and NTTF have different interests — they really do. They are going to be pitted against each other no matter what. I’m not saying open war — but their interests conflict (to a degree).

    Inevitably, being in the same union will erode the status — both the factual state, and the perceived “status” — of TTF. That’s what being in a union does, kiddos. Does it erode the status of pro football players? I think it does. Of players in, say, the Chicago Symphony? On that, I’ll take a pass, to be quite honest, but I do hear that top American orchestras are not what they once were — I am not in a position to judge. Does it erode the status of public school teachers? I have not the slightest doubt of that.

    As far as I can tell, not being in the union, when the NTTF are, has not hurt TTF at other schools. In UC, the NTTF are unionized, are they not? (I’m not sure, but my understanding is they are.) Has that hurt the TTF at Berkeley?

    • Anonymous says:

      Dog Barks

      Pro Football – are you kidding me? – do you know who Dave Durisen was? (see UOmatters for this). It wasn’t until pro football players made a decent CBA that they could get good
      long term health care for dealing with the medical complications of life after football. That’s a huge deal. In fact, I am hoping the UO union will completely pay for my PTSD associated with having taught too many ducklings over time …

  3. Anonymous says:

    No. We want different things. In the same unit, they have way more votes when part time yoga instructors are included in the bargaining unit.

    • Anonymous says:

      As you start to write your NTTF vs. TTF differences comments, I would respectfully ask that you consider that there are a large number of us on campus who are full time instructors, who are not here for one or two classes, and that our efforts carrying heavy loads in the classroom make it possible for TTFs to have the time to do the research that they love. Whether that be a standard load of 6 in one school or 8 (as it is in Lundquist), our interests are probably much closer aligned to those of a TTF than part time adjuncts. Just as you cannot lump all TTF into one group, nor can you or should you lump all NTTF together. Yet that is exactly what the union organizers want to do.

    • Anonymous says:

      Dog says

      Part of the problem here is just the lack of data. I certainly agree
      that the range of loads and responsibilities among NTTF is large but
      it would be highly useful to see a distribution of teaching loads
      among NTTF. My perception is that the UO has hired a lot of part time
      adjuncts to handle our increasing enrollment over the last 2 years – but
      I don’t know this for a fact since I can’t find good data on this. Speaking as a TTF, I have much support for the “full time NTTF” but not so much for part time adjuncts. Others in this forum have held similar views. But the data problem is that the actual number of part time adjuncts is unknown – I suspect its 400-500 but maybe its only 50 –
      we need good data on this.

    • Anonymous says:

      Dog, I agree with you on the need to actually have the data. But I would add in one more important distinctions that would need to be looked at. What are the adjuncts teaching? How specialized are the courses or how generic? I would posit that we do our students a big favor by bringing in subject matter experts for topics that are of interest and where we currently have no faculty research expertise versus filling a staffing gap in a core class. Bringing in an adjunct to teach a number of sections of an intro to marketing class or filling in the staffing needs of an introductory level foreign language is not the same as some of the higher level classes. If adjuncts are used merely to avoid the costs of searching for an bringing in full time NTTF instructors you are right, the process is subverted. But, for example in Lundquist there are subject matter experts who have come in perhaps once a year to teach specialized classes on wealth management, sports products, or real estate finance — all areas where students and industry who hire our graduates have an interest but where the faculty complement does not really have strong skills. That is a prudent and effective use of adjuncts.

    • Anonymous says:

      7:11, your word choice is interesting. NTTF carry a heavy load, so that TTF can do something they love. I hope we all love the hard work of our jobs, but you make it sound as though research is a hobby rather than part of a job description that has a value placed on it by the people that hire us. It is comments like that that make me worry about the priorities of a union. Will all the parts of the union value research, or consider it a “hobby” and easy work compared to the hard work of teaching?

    • Anonymous says:

      @10:40, you make it sound as if NTTFs don’t understand the pleasure of research or do it themselves. Be very, very careful when you’re trying to assert that NTTFs don’t get it — many of us do and we’re struggling to get tenure-track jobs so we too can “love the hard work of our jobs.” Many of us younger adjuncts stuck with very heavy teaching loads at low pay also went to R1 institutions and have very active research profiles (that are valued at 0.0 FTE at UO). Perhaps a more meaningful difference than a bogus fear that NTTFs consider research a hobby is that NTTFs want a system where economic realities at least recognize and encourage the young researcher instead of eating him alive. So yes, I support a separate union for NTTFs.

    • Anonymous says:

      I am 10:40. I was questioning a particular person’s word choice (7:11), who said, “our efforts carrying heavy loads in the classroom make it possible for TTFs to have the time to do the research that they love”. To me, that statement contrasted the “labor” of teaching with the “love” of research, which seems to place a value on the former at the expense of the latter (after all, people are paid to carry loads, but often do the thing they love for free). I wasn’t speaking about all NTTFs, but I did wonder if a research TTF would want to be part of a union where 7:11 would be asserting that viewpoint. I’m not sure why you are so quick to dismiss those concerns.

      Does that make me not want a fair system for NTTFs? No, I think a unionized NTTF would be a good thing. I also support a separate union for NTTFs so their concerns are given the prominence they deserve. I think there are plenty of ways to make NTTF positions better as a career choice. It sounds to me that there are NTTFs that have that as a career, and others that are doing it while trying to get TT jobs. I think it will be difficult to get the University to invest in the latter.

  4. Anonymous says:

    A question for fellow union opponents among the TTF: if unionization in some form is a foregone conclusion, would it not be better to be in the same bargaining unit with the NTTF? This would allow the TTFs some say in whatever CBA gets ironed out for the NTTF, and help prevent the Admin from pitting the two groups against one another. The TTFs could still insist on a watered-down CBA for their own positions, in effect preserving something close to the status quo in terms of salary, promotion, retention, teaching loads, etc. Many TTF, out of piety and/or sincere solidarity, say they’re happy to let the NTTF form their own separate union, but I’m not sure that’s a good strategic calculation in the best interest of the TTF faculty.

    • Anonymous says:

      Dog, now unmuted

      I have only one real specific concern about the joint union and it may never come to
      this. But if the CBA (and who knows what that might look like) contains language like”
      “course buyouts will be subject to union approval” – then I think this is a major concern
      for TTF.

    • Anonymous says:

      No, I think if unionization is a forgone conclusion (which I don’t accept by the way – there is plenty of evidence that a majority of TTF oppose unionization) then TTF are better off in a separate unit from NTTF. The fact that scholarship is central to what TTF are do and not to what NTTF is important and that distinction will get eroded if we are in the same unit.

      Furthermore, it isn’t that the TTF will have some say about the NTTF. As currently constituted, the bargaining unit is minority TTF by a substantial margin. So what is actually true is that NTTF will control how the contract is shaped for TTF. In fact, the only counterweight to that is the university administration, so for TTF who endorse this union because they don’t trust the administration, they should realize they are making themselves _more_ dependent on the administration, not less.

      One can make the argument that even though the interests in the NTTF are against valuing scholarship by TTF, the NTTF will work against their own interests because of – well, I don’t know what justification one uses to expect a group to work against its own interests (sometimes ignorance, but I don’t that applies here). But that’s the argument one has to make. When this contract gets formed, there will be two powerful groups: the NTTF (whose interests are against support scholarship by the TTF) and the administration (who has at least some interests in supporting scholarship).

    • Anonymous says:

      Dog to anon above

      I think its unhelpful and somewhat destructive to say that NTTF are not engaged
      in the process of scholarship. And NTTF value scholarship by TTF as well. In fact, how do you even measure “scholarship” in a meaningful way. I think your argument might be less vague if you defined scholarship in way that’s better than
      you have scholarship and I don’t …

    • Anonymous says:

      The claim is not that NTTF are not engaged in scholarship. Some are, and some are not. The claim is that (with a few exceptions) this is not what the university pays them for, while it _is_ part of what the university pays TTF for.

      As far as defining scholarship, that’s better left to departments because it differs widely from college to college and from department to department. In fact, one of the reasons that a union is a poor fit for TTF is that TTF are _supposed_ to be producing scholarship. So any CBA has to specify how to measure that when it really can’t be measured systematically across fields.

      As far as whether NTTF value scholarship, again, some do and some do not. But if it is against NTTF economic interest to reward scholarship (and given that most NTTF aren’t being paid to produce scholarship, I think it is against their economic interests) it is naive to expect the NTTF to be working on behalf of a CBA that rewards scholarship.

  5. Anonymous says:

    OSU to get Michelle Obama as commencement speaker!

    Another indication of UO’s slide relative to OSU.

    Research dollars, state funding, possibly SAT scores according to some rumors. Now this!

    At least UO still has Chip and the Ducks.

  6. Anonymous says:

    what precedent? the klamath cc case was a negotiated settlement between cc and union, which erb simply accepted as a settlement. hardly a ruling on a disputed claim, and klamath apparently doesn’t have any ttf.no oter university in oregon was founded explicitly including ‘professors’ as sharing immediate autority with te president over the curriculum and affairs of the campus. now reinforced with new constition.

  7. Anonymous says:

    The issue, I think, is not institutional resemblance but the basis on which the Employment Relations Board will rule on the appropriateness of the proposed bargaining unit (assuming it is challenged, that is). What will matter here is Oregon labor law and the ERB’s own precedents, which is to say that the Klamath CC case will carry more weight than the Illinois decision re UI Chicago, which will have little bearing at all.

  8. Cat says:

    I believe the point is to ask whether we are not more like IU than Klamath CC. The answer seems obvious–but the law doesn’t operate in obvious ways.

  9. Anonymous says:

    “OUS community colleges”. Point of fact: There are no community colleges in OUS. Community colleges in Oregon are operated and administrated under a separate set of laws.

  10. Anonymous says:

    And certainly isn’t closer to a peer of ours than some of the OUS community colleges which have recently unionized…..

  11. Anonymous says:

    A good start. Now, I’d like to see a vote of the TTF where they actually include everyone — law professors, professors like myself with research grants and postdocs …. until that happens, I will never — never — accept the legitimacy of this unionization process.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I’m sure it goes without saying that these court cases are a test of the law as it is written and we do not have the same labor law in Oregon as they do in Illinois.

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