Blandy and Altmann’s offer of $1000 a course not enough to make department heads scab on their grad students

11/21/2014 update: The video from the Nov 19th Senate meeting debate on legislation to oppose the administration’s efforts to “dilute and degrade academic standards and the secretive process by which it was made” instead of negotiating a fair deal for the grad students, is now posted. Please note the time from the video in your comments if appropriate:

Update: UO undergrads mock Coltrane’s strike plans in the Daily Jade, here.

11/20/2014: Blandy and Altmann’s offer of $1000 a course not enough to make department heads scab on their grad students

The offer from the administration is here (the confidential plan is here, and for the curious the resume of $300-an-hour Jeff Matthews, the HLGR lawyer and Sharon Rudnick protege that mysteriously got the job of leading the administration’s disastrous bargaining is here. This appears to be his first exposure to labor negotiations. Hell of a job he’s doing.):

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This works out to about $1000, to cover one course for one week. The response, from a group of UO Department Heads and Directors is here. I’m guessing I know that many others have similar sentiments but aren’t willing to send them to the newspapers, or use that ugly word scab, yet:

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34 Responses to Blandy and Altmann’s offer of $1000 a course not enough to make department heads scab on their grad students

  1. amazing! says:

    Kudos to Monique Balbuena, Yvonne Braun, Rick Colby, Scott DeLancey, Lynn Fujiwara, Deborah Green, Mary Jaeger, Jeff Magoto, Bonnie Mann, Eric Mentzel, Elizabeth Reis, and Anita Weiss for standing up and doing the right thing. UO needs more people like you. Awesome!!!

    Now where are the STEM department heads and program directors?

  2. Wombat says:

    Interesting that the departments that pay their GTFs considerably more than the university’s minimum wage aren’t the ones signing the petition. Tell me more about ‘moral and ethical principles.’

    • anonymous says:

      Your point is what exactly? That department heads who have no choice but to almost pay their GTFs a living wage are bigger chickenshits than departments heads whose GTFs are really hurting?

    • Pollyanna says:

      Not sure I understand the purport of this comment. The departments that don’t pay more than the university’s minimum wage are trying to field programs on a much smaller budget, and would gladly pay their GTFs more if they could.

      • Wombat says:

        The point is this. There are departments that have had to choose between increasing the pay of their GTF and having more GTF positions. Not hypothetically but really. Increasing the number of positions lets you ‘field programs’ that you want to have. But paying GTFs above the UO minimum wage is the right thing to do if you value graduate student work. There are departments I know of that chose the path of higher pay. They’re not signatories on the letter. Maybe the department heads that signed also pay their GTFs well above minimum, and I don’t know about it. I’d love to be corrected. So why is it ethical and good to proclaim solidarity with the GTFs in a letter, but not with actions that would have mattered?

        By the way, I do think the administration’s handling of this is stupid, callous, and bizarre. But that’s not the point of my comment.

        • anonymous says:

          The departments that pay above minimum don’t do it out of the goodness of their hearts. They do it because programs at other schools pay more, so UO gives them more. If those department heads were motivated by moral principles and respect for graduate student work, then they would have been the first ones to speak out in support of the GTFF.

          But I’m betting that no STEM department head is going to publicly step up because (1) they have more resources to get through a strike, and (2) they’re chickenshits. Cowering, wagon-circling, rationalizing, brown-nosing chickenshits.

          • anon says:

            I have been impressed with how the STEM departments I know treat their career instructors… much better than instructors in many other departments. If they were so evil they would opt for a cycle of underpaid adjuncts or even have GTFs teach classes, not much reason to do otherwise other than basic decency.

          • anonymous says:

            No sale. Even if I agreed with your statement about career instructors, the department still has an obligation to take a stand against the incompetence of the administration and stick up for grad students, who voted overwhelmingly to strike.

          • Wombat says:

            “UO gives them more.” Really? I don’t remember UO coming to our department meetings. The faculty made a decision. Anyway, you seem to agree that it’s possible to pay GTFs more. For argument’s sake let’s say you’re right about motives. So what? Tell me again how it’s ethical to not pay your GTFs more and then proudly thump your chest about how you support the GTFs.

            And about “then they would have been the first ones to speak out in support of the GTFF.” Really? It’s like the case with NTTFs. The departments that have good relationships with them, pay them well, give them a voice in departmental decisions are not the ones that publicly go on about their love of labor. Talk is cheap. Just like writing “chickenshit” over and over and thinking it doesn’t sound juvenile.

          • anon says:

            Look, I’m not even sure if a resounding majority of STEM GTFs are planning to stop work during the strike, so the lack of DHs on the letter just reflects the overall mood in these departments–it just isn’t such a priority.

        • anon says:

          The humanities faculty are supporting the GTFF strike but haven’t actually done anything about GTFF pay… because the humanities faculty are using the GTFF as a pawn to show the administration that unions will strike. This will make their own CBA negotiating easier down the road. The STEM faculty don’t have this conflict of interest because most are not in UA union.

          I don’t believe this, but it is easy to spin nasty fantasies in anger. The calling of STEM faculty chickenshits demonstrates how fragile collegiality is on this campus.

          • anonymous says:

            OK, this can much more plausibly be spun the other way too. The small humanities programs are supporting the GTFF because they’ll really suffer during a strike. STEM, on the other hand, will be pretty much business as usual, so why should they speak up to protect those little programs? Which is the worse breach of collegiality: Name-calling or the abandonment of the interests of graduate students and faculty in more vulnerable departments?

    • anon says:

      It’s a bit more complicated. In Biology, for example, the institutes set the stipend level and agree to pay the differential between the baseline of the department and the level desired by the institute labs. Often the labs pay this differential from research grants for the researchers in their labs. The DH doesn’t have much input.

      Couple of thoughts–STEM DHs may not be represented here because many STEM grad students are researchers without any instructional duties. There are very few classes where a GTF has final grading authority. So STEM DHs have less to worry about in event of a strike.

      Also, before we all go calling names at various DHs, do we know if this was a formal effort with a call to include all DHs and only a few signed on, or a letter from a group of DHs that work together?

      • anonymous says:

        Probably the second one. But either way, speak-no-evil at this late date from every single one of the more powerful departments is an affirmative act of moral cowardice.

        • anon says:

          Do you know that STEM DHs have not said anything to Coltrane? Correct me if I’m wrong, but there could be other letters, other modes of communication. These DHs may be unique in just making sure everyone else knows they are taking a stand.

          • anonymous says:

            They might have. The time to put pressure on behind the scenes would have been last spring, after the first strike vote, or earlier this fall, when bargaining entered mediation, or even as late as month ago, after the second strike vote.

            But now that we’re ten days from an actual strike, I have to conclude that either they’ve done nothing all along, or their support was so half-hearted that they’re not willing to apply pressure publicly. I’m pretty sure it’s the first one, but I would be delighted to be proven wrong.

      • anonymous says:

        Here’s a little institutional memory about STEM and the GTFF. A few bargaining cycles ago, the GTFF submitted a grievance to the ERB arguing that the use of undergraduate graders violated the CBA and took work away from grad students. The arbitrator agreed and required graders to be GTFs under that CBA.

        This hit the math department especially hard, as they rely heavily on cheap undergrad graders for dozens of courses. The adult, “collegial” thing to do would have been to respect the CBA and put pressure on JH and the UO negotiators to work something out with the GTFF.

        Instead, then-DH Brad Shelton and his assistant DH badmouthed the GTFF to students and faculty alike for “not allowing” undergraduate graders. Shelton also called the GTFF negotiator into his office and attempted to intimidate and bully him into dropping the grievance.

        Shelton is a particularly uncivil example, but I just don’t see STEM exhibiting a sense of collective responsibility about the welfare of grad students (or anyone else) across campus. Again, I’d love to be proven wrong.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Scott has fucked this up so badly. I want to cry.

  4. Holy Justice! says:

    If more people had this kind of courage, conviction and clarity, I doubt we would be in the jam we face on this campus – indeed, in the world. Way to go each of you and any others who follow suit!

    • Always hoping says:

      Way to go, signers of this letter. Some on campus might disagree with their reasoning, but most would agree that morale has been hit hard this term with the administration’s bad handling of negotiations and strike preparations. Not what we were hoping for.

  5. Journalism Alumnus says:

    Really disgusted that Allen Hall isn’t represented. Ethics, my ass.

    • J-accuse says:

      I’ll bet the admins there don’t want to draw any more attention to the bullshit shell game they played this year with firing well-qualified, popular NTTF and then at the last minute rehired some without security just to cover a program like it was a “whoopsie!” moment. It was a total violation of the spirit of the CBA, but they somehow got away with it.

  6. wtf says:

    Where are all the other heads? Is this a joke?

  7. Doctoral Ne'er-Do-Well says:

    I would love to see more departments sign onto this and am actively encouraging department heads with whom I work to do so. Faculty and students are the blood, guts, bones, and meat of the university. Together we can oppose the divisive rhetoric and disrespectful conduct of Johnson Hall and demand a quick resolution to GTFF collective bargaining.

  8. GTFFer says:

    I am taken truly aback by this letter. With a strike looming that I do not want to see unfold, but am still prepared to take part in, my time is consumed with worry and fear. And then I read this letter, my burden feels easier to bear. I know people always say they care, and say they support certain things, but this letter is the most caring and generous act I have seen in my time here at UO. These faculty have taken a risk, for me and for this entire campus community. These department chairs have bravely stood up in a way I never thought anyone in their position ever would. It gives me hope for this campus and for academia.

  9. Thanks for sharing the video, UOMatters. I was very touched by the solidarity shown by and also the impassioned words of the many people that spoke.

  10. Clueless says:

    Courageous and powerful letter that cuts to the heart of the issues.

    Lillis’s scolding of the faculty for not being collaborative and civil with administration misses the point completely. Even allowing that he doesn’t know the history here, he shows he doesn’t understand shared governance at a University. It’s not like shared governance in a corporation.

    We have mechanisms in place for shared governance and the admin’s strike plan ignored those mechanisms. These are clearly academic matters that belong to the faculty.

    Mr. Lillis, if you want more collegiality and collaboration between faculty and administration, you must also scold administration when they act unilaterally on affairs they have no business deciding by themselves or with the lawyers running this place. You must demonstrate that you believe your own words that the faculty are the lifeblood of the university. You must scold them when they stand before the Senate and lie about their activities as Blandy did.

    This is a two-way street and faculty do not, should not, bear the entire responsibility for the breakdowns in governance. The Senate has been on a much more functional path the past couple of years and the administration must come to them on academic matters.

  11. JH is full of good ideas says:

    The extra duty assignment is exactly why the DHs etc were excluded from the union. So the breech of contract is on the DHs that do not comply. That is also why DHs are paid a handsome stipend!

  12. Anonymous coward says:

    I liked Lillis’s comments. No mealy-words. He wants some big changes. He started out trying to make these himself, got some pushback, and now he realizes he’ll need faculty cooperation and so he’s trying to establish a good relationship. Johnson Hall should look to him as an example on how to do that effectively.

  13. Bonnie Mann says:

    As a signer on the letter from Dept. Heads and Program Directors I want to add a couple of comments/clarifications here. 1) my program pays our grad students considerably above minimum, and has repeatedly voted to raise GTF stipends well above the minimum over the last number of years, 2) any Dept. Head or Program Director who wasn’t part of the formulation of this letter, which was worked on among a limited group of Humanities and Social Sciences Heads/Directors, can certainly choose to add their signature-email me directly if you would like to sign on and I can figure out how to make that happen 3) this letter doesn’t preclude other kinds of collective statements from other Dept. Heads/Directors who may not agree with the formulation here, and most importantly, 4) I certainly don’t, and I suspect many of my co-signers don’t, condemn everyone who didn’t sign the letter or doesn’t precisely share our view. I don’t disparage the motivations or the reasoning that led a good number of folks NOT to sign the letter, who knew about it, and I certainly don’t disparage the motivations of those who didn’t even know the letter was forthcoming. I would appeal to everyone to refrain from personally vilifying members of the administration or one another even as we challenge one another and disagree, and try to persuade one another in relation to a right course of action. One can be both respectful to others and stalwart in one’s position. While I firmly believe that the letter represents a right course of action under the circumstances, I don’t assume that others who don’t share my view are doing any less than making every effort to get through this as ethically and with as much integrity as they can. I would urge us all to remember that name calling and derision tend to be very ineffective tools for persuasion.

  14. chem guy says:

    Listening to Doxsee speak you’d think he’s teaching a chemistry class. He’s not.

  15. Sun Jian says:

    About a subject as complicated as reviving the sagging fortunes of the UO, Mr. Lillis’ presentation was crisp, bracing, and sincere. Every Oregonian who cares about the future of the state should watch it.

    And every alum who stakes the well being of his weekend on Oregon football should be chastened. Oregon’s dominance over rival Washington on the gridiron the past decade is matched by the corollary of UW’s dominance over the UO in academics.

    Mr. Lillis put it correctly about UW’s global ranking: his degrees from UW are worth more because of it. An Oregon degree presumably is worth not-so-much.

    But despite a brilliant breakdown of the issues, Mr. Lillis missed an opportunity. By keeping athletics off the table, at least in this first go-round with faculty, he defers to another day the ultimate reckoning of a core concern: whether Oregon is to be a semi-professional sports franchise with a college attached to it, or whether it will be–in his words–not merely a “good,” but a “great” university.

    The answer may depend in large part on Uncle “Billion Dollar” Phil.

    • charlie says:

      Actually, the answer depends on the average catatonic Oregon taxpayer waking up, and demanding that their money not be used to fund Wall Street money palaces, or the corporate hogs that feed at the public trough. If it all depends on Phil Knight, then the flagship would be better off shutting down….

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