Bean on Union

11/17/2009: Provost Bean comments on the proposed Union. Emphasis added:

This e-mail has been sent on behalf of Provost Jim Bean.

Many of you are aware that organizers from the “United Academics of the University of Oregon” (a union co-sponsored by the American Federation of Teachers and the AAUP) are working on the UO campus with the objective of unionizing Officers of Administration, Officers of Research and Officers of Instruction into a single union. The UO administration is part of a state agency and as such is necessarily neutral on this activity. It is up to the unclassified employees of the University to determine if they want to be represented or to continue to work directly with the administration. We will periodically communicate information about this issue to help employees be as informed as possible when making this important decision.

Oregon is a “card-check” state. That means that a union may be certified to represent unclassified employees without a secret ballot vote taking place. If the organizers can obtain signatures on cards or petitions from over half of the employees in the group stating that they want the union to represent them, the Oregon State Employees Relations Board may certify the union based on that fact so that everyone within the group becomes union-represented. Therefore, please read carefully anything you are asked to sign before making that decision, as you may be giving up your right to vote and committing yourself to inclusion in the union.

If you have any questions on the “card-check” law, please contact Linda King (346-2966 or [email protected]) or Randy Wardlow (346-2965 or [email protected]), both of Human Resources.

Regards, Jim


10/25/2009: Greg Bolt has a good article on the faculty union in the Sunday RG:

(Marie) Vitulli (Math) said concern about pay and benefits is one reason for considering a union. UO faculty are generally ranked at or near the bottom in pay among institutions in the groups the state uses as comparators. … But of as much concern to some people on campus is the voice faculty have in major decisions affecting the university. Vitulli said many people feel that the university’s top executives don’t give much weight to faculty views. … Asked to comment on the union effort, the UO Provost Jim Bean said the university “supports the rights of faculty and staff” as they decide whether to unionize and will make relevant information available.

Jim, what do you mean by “will make relevant information available?” As in offer to sell the faculty the documents that explain how administrative spending policies just lost the faculty $2 million a year in federal research money? You just made the best case for the Union I’ve heard yet.

President Larivere has an Op-Ed in the RG today as well. Lariviere has been President for 4 months now. It’s typical for a person taking a job like this to bargain for the right to make some changes in their administrative team. So far there’s no hint of that happening – quite the opposite. Either he didn’t negotiate this as part of his deal or he likes Frohnmayer’s top administrators and the way they run UO and treat the faculty just fine.

So, nice words, but we got those from Frohnmayer all the time – prestigious AAU membership, extraordinary faculty, opportunity for students – yada yada. Reads like Frohnmayer’s speechwriter wrote it. (Yup, same guy.) This is just cheap talk. Lariviere needs to make some changes very soon or we really will have a union.

The Oregon Commentator – and libertarians are not usually pro-union – just weighed in with this:

The UO’s faculty is normally ranked at the bottom of Oregon College’s faculty pay scales, averaging about 80% of the average pay at other state schools in Oregon. Portland State University, Southern Oregon University, Western Oregon University and Eastern Oregon all have faculty unions. It’s ironic that President Lariviere’s guest commentary mentioned that Oregon was the “flagship university” in Oregon yet none of the faculty seemed to be getting paid on par with other Oregon state universities (actually one faculty member gets paid well, Frohnmeyer, who will be paid $250,000 to lead a freshmen seminar).

That’s spelled Frohnmayer, Drew. And he only gets $245,000. Be careful, he can be pretty prickly about these sorts of bogus attacks.

upcoming Union meetings

10/4/2009: We are passing along information on 2 upcoming Union events. As background, a joint AAUP-AFT group is working to organize a UO faculty union. Their website is They are currently attempting to build support, get President Lariviere to adopt a neutrality policy, and at some point will presumably call for a vote. As we understand the new – and controversial – cardcheck election process, they will then have 90 days to get a majority of faculty to sign cards supporting the Union. If they can do this, UO’s faculty will be unionized. Not sure about OA’s.

The first event is a panel discussion on Tuesday, October 6th, from 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. in the Ben Linder Room of the EMU. The theme for the panel discussion is “Why Unionize at an AAU Institution?” and panelists are from several unionized universities.

The second event is a lecture/discussion on Wednesday, October 7th, from 4:00 – 5:20 p.m. in the Knight Library Browsing Room. The guest speaker is Ezra Zubrow, Professor of Anthropology, SUNY Buffalo and the University of Toronto, and the topic of the lecture is “What is the Role of the Senate on a Unionized Campus? The SUNY Buffalo Experience.”


9/7/2009: The PSU AAU union has an active website, with information about the staff contract among other things.

They report staff furlough days will be scheduled as follows:

Monthly pay of $2,450 or below: 8 days

Monthly pay $2,451 to $3,105: 12 days

Monthly pay $3,106 to $5,733: 14 days

Monthly pay $5,734 or higher: 16 days


6/5/2009 update:

The Union effort seems to be gaining momentum. They have hired additional organizers and that suggests they believe they have the potential to win an election.

During Frohnmayer’s years faculty salaries have gone nowhere, while administrative salaries, spending, and distractions like athletics, Bend, Portland, and so on have ballooned. The only transparency has been the clear contempt with which Frohnmayer and his cronies have treated the faculty and the Senate.

If Lariviere does not take quick steps to repudiate Frohnmayer’s decisions and replace senior administrators, I think UO may well go Union pretty quickly.

An AAUP-AFT collaboration is pursuing the idea of a UO faculty union. Their website is here.

I think a union of UO faculty members is an interesting idea that should be seriously debated. People I know in the UC system are pretty happy with theirs. But at other places it seems to be followed by a shift away from incentives for research and towards mediocrity.

My own take is that the administration needs to take the possibility seriously and credibly explain how they propose to reallocate UO’s scarce resources away from themselves and their pet projects and back to UO’s core mission. Where does that $12 million in new tuition go?