anti-union petitions update

4/4/2012 8:00 AM update: 483 for the secret ballot (need ~600), 363 for the no TTFs.

Best to sign by noon if you are going to sign.

4/3/2012 9:45 AM update: 459 for the secret ballot (need ~600), 352 for the no TTFs.

If you want to sign these petitions I’m told it would be best to do it today so they get to the ERB by 5PM tomorrow. I think the ERB is going to have to take the no TTF petition seriously, and in the end maybe we will actually learn from the ERB how many TTF signed. It seems clear the union organizers are not going to tell us the numerator or the denominator they used to make their “more than 50%” claim. I think their secrecy on this has hurt their cause.

The administration has been secretive as well. It’s two weeks since I asked to see the contracts and invoices for any law firms or consultants they’ve hired to advise them on unionization. Still no response from Randy Geller. What’s he hiding this time?

4/2/2012 7:30 AM update: 370 for the secret ballot (need ~600), 297 for the no TTFs.

3/31/2012 5:30 AM update: 317 for the secret ballot, 295 for the no TTFs.

3/30/2012: As of 5:30 AM, the petition for a secret ballot election has 162 signatures (including anons), here. The petition to exclude TTFs from the union has 294, here. The UO Matters union Meta-FAQ is here. The union website is here.

anti-union faculty hire lawyer too

Apparently Frohnmayer’s got a conflict on this one, but I hear Melinda Grier is available. An email circulated to TTF today, 4/2/2012:

Dear Colleagues,

On the Friday of winter-term finals week, a group of tenure track faculty members distributed a petition that expresses some of our objections to the union’s proposed bargaining unit.  At the time this reminder is being sent, the petition has 299 signatures.

In an effort to make sure that we have reached everyone who has an interest in joining in our objections to the proposed bargaining unit, we are sending out a post-spring break e-mail.    If you do not wish to sign you can stop reading now.

If you have signed already, we would like to bring to your attention a group of faculty who have decided to hire legal representation, and would like to coordinate efforts based on that advice.  Please email to [email protected]  if you’d like to join in supporting that effort.

As we said in our initial e-mail, the petition lists four reasons that the TTF should be excluded from the proposed bargaining unit.  Admittedly, it is not perfect, but time is of the essence so we have attempted to concisely articulate the points in the time we have available.  In their comments, several signers of our petition have either supplemented these reasons or agreed with a subset of the reasons.

Two items that were not mentioned in our initial e-mail, but we believe to be true, may concern you as a tenure track faculty member:
1) Tenure track faculty will comprise less than half of the union and therefore we will likely have a minority voice.
2) This decision is difficult to reverse.  If the union does not work out from the standpoint of TTFs, it is not obvious how to withdraw from the union.

Ultimately, our hope is that those who have concerns regarding the proposed bargaining unit will have the opportunity to be heard by the ERB.  If you plan to support this effort to be heard, please sign the petition as soon as possible.  We must turn in the petition to the ERB by April 4th.  If you share our concerns with the proposed bargaining unit, please sign today.

 The petition can be found here:

Further information and discussion can be found at —

Best regards,

Concerned faculty at the University of Oregon

UO hires Frohnmayer’s firm to deal with union election

4/2/2012: That’s the word from the union website update, in a post that also criticizes the petitions, here:

We sincerely hope that the university administration will recognize the will of the majority of the faculty and maintain its previously public statement of neutrality. It now appears that the UO administration retained the law firm of Harrang Long Gary Rudnick P.C., with former University President Dave Frohnmayer a firm member. It is our hope that the lawyers whom they have hired to advise them will not prevail upon them to delay or obstruct the will of the faculty vote or the certification process with unnecessary or unfounded challenges. 

It didn’t take an economist to correctly forecast this one, given our general counsel Randy Geller’s longtime ties to Frohnmayer. Frohnmayer joined the Harrang Long et al. firm while he was ostensibly on a research sabbatical after retiring as UO president. The Secretary of State’s Audits Division looked into this unusual arrangement and found a few irregularities. The report is here. Among other things, Russ Tomlin had written a few retroactive contracts for summer pay, which Frohnmayer filled with “sick leave” days. When this came to light Tomlin got slapped for going along with the scam, Frohnmayer had to repay a little money to UO, and then Michael Moffitt at the Law school wrote him a new contract spelling out his research and teaching obligations very, very clearly. I’m thinking we can thank Richard Lariviere for insisting on this, and ending the lucrative golden parachute deal Frohnmayer had signed with hs pal Pernsteiner. Frohnmayer now teaches a 1 credit course in the law school, allowing him to keep claiming he is a law school professor on his Harrang Long et al. bio page.

Last fall UO sent out an RFP for proposals for law firms to provide legal advice for matters that Geller’s office lacked expertise or competence in. (Yes, it must be a long list.) It took a petition to the Attorney General, but eventually Geller provided the proposals. In theirs, Harrang et al. was quite happy to brag about Frohnmayer’s political connections:

and they note their expertise in dealing with union elections:

I’ve got a request in for the contracts and invoices – which will show who at the firm is doing the work – but so far Geller is sitting on them. I’m shocked. Isn’t that a violation of Oregon’s public records law Randy? Maybe you should ask Frohnmayer for some advice on how to keep stalling. He’ll only charge UO $550 an hour.

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: but if you wish to add your name you should go to 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:

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

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.

United Academics post lists next steps

3/24/2012: The faculty union organizers have now put up a long post that gives the next steps. Worth reading it all, here. I am disappointed that they left out the April 4 deadline for faculty that are opposed to submit letters or a petition. A link to one petition, arguing TTFs should not be part of the bargaining unit, is here.


By March 28th, the UO administration must send an official list of faculty to the ERB so cards can be verified.  The UO administration has until March 28th to provide the ERB a list of all those faculty members who could potentially belong to the bargaining unit. The ERB appoints an agent to check the signed cards we submitted against that official list to verify that the cards are valid.  Our cards remain confidential from the UO administration. 

By April 4th, the UO administration must file any challenges to United Academic’s bargaining unit definition.  The UO administration has until April 4th to file any challenge to the composition of the proposed bargaining unit. 

By April 4th, United Academics must file any challenge to the official list submitted to the ERB by the UO administration.  We have until April 4th to review the list the UO administration sent the ERB and file any challenge to that official list of employees — to object to omissions or additions, or to any attempts to redefine the bargaining unit via this list.

During this process of list submission, card verification and potential challenges, the specific number of faculty considered to be in the bargaining unit will remain in a state of flux.  Based upon our best estimates of the number of eligible faculty, we are confident that a clear majority of our colleagues support forming a union.

By April 4th, UO faculty members could submit signatures and a petition to the ERB for an mail-in election:   If some UO faculty members want to, they have the right to gather hard-copy signatures from 30 percent of the faculty included in the proposed bargaining unit and present a separate petition to the ERB to override the card-check process and trigger an election.

The online petition that is currently underway at the link above is about excluding TTF’s from a union and it is *not* a petition for a secret ballot election. I have heard such a petition is being organized and I will post it here, but 30% of the entire proposed bargaining unit seems like a tough hurdle, especially if it really has to be hard-copy signatures.

240 sign TTF petition to be out of bargaining unit

as of 10AM 3/24/2012. There are a few signatures that might reasonably be challenged, e.g.:

Name: Moe Ronn on Mar 23, 2012

Comments: I believe the state of Oregon and the university administration always has my best interests at heart and should make all decisions concerning my pay and benefits.

or provost Jim Bean, who seems to think that by setting up what is, in my opinion, an overpaid sham sick leave/sabbatical for himself he has earned a vote against a union of the same faculty that he claims he will back administering this summer:

Name: James C. Bean on Mar 23, 2012
Comments: I am currently on leave as a professor of business

and there is also at least one part-time instructor who signed presumably by mistake and more than a few law school professors who are not in the proposed unit anyway.

But assuming the many anonymous signatories are legit 30-40% of the non-law TTF are saying they do *not* want to be in a union and I expect some further increase. This is generally consistent with the 2009 UO Matters and 2012 Tublitz polls and the report from the union that they had signatures from “more than half” of the non-law TTF supporting unionization. Link to signatories and petition here. A few faculty report that they signed a card but are now opposed given the bargaining unit definition. My guess is this is going to be a long fight for both sides.

Tenure Track Faculty petition to stay out of union

3/23/2012: Sent to me and I believe all TTF’s this AM:

Dear Colleagues,

Many tenure track faculty members have expressed concerns regarding the union’s proposed bargaining unit.  We have put together a petition for those TTF members that share our concerns.  The ERB has informed us that we can file a document that states our specific concerns and a list of faculty that support the objection.  The petition lists four reasons that the TTF should be excluded from the proposed bargaining unit.  Admittedly, it is not perfect, but time is of the essence so we have attempted to concisely articulate the points in the time we have available.

The ERB has informed us that we can collect names electronically, and if you wish, you can choose to make your name visible only to the petition sponsors and the parties to whom the petition will be sent.

Our hope is that those who have concerns regarding the proposed bargaining unit will have the opportunity to be heard by the ERB.  If you plan to support this effort to be heard, please sign the petition as soon as possible.

The petition can be found here:

 The text:

We object to the inclusion of tenure-track faculty (TTF) in the proposed bargaining unit set forth by United Academics of University of Oregon, AAUP/AFT, AFL-CIO, on the following grounds:

(I) The proposed unit of employees is very broad, with different roles and functions within the University. These include full-time, part-time, and retired faculty, as well as faculty primarily engaged in research, others engaged in instruction, and some engaged in both. It is difficult to envision a single entity effectively representing the needs of all of these heterogeneous constituents.  Moreover, the plan to include Officers of Research requires exclusion of TTF members who supervise ORs, but the mobility of faculty in and out of “supervisory” status, such as rotating terms as department heads, makes the composition of the proposed union unworkable.

(II) Employment decisions within the TTF are peer reviewed and are therefore fundamentally different from other proposed members of the bargaining unit.  For example, TTF members make hiring, promotion and retention decisions about their peer TTF members.  Non-TTF members are not typically involved in this type of decision making process, and in fact are commonly reviewed by TTF members.

(III) The proposed unit excludes Principal Investigators with supervisory authority and faculty in the School of Law. The basis for excluding these groups is unclear and inconsistent. Principal Investigators and faculty in the Law School have both a research and instructive role in their employment that is almost identical to other active tenure-track faculty members. Tenure track faculty included in the bargaining unit are more comparable to this excluded group than they are to other members included in the proposed unit such as Non-TTF faculty.

(IV) The manner in which TTF members are compensated is heterogeneous and not conducive to collective bargaining.  Many TTF members trade-off salary with research and lab funding, so a one-size-fits-all collective agreement will limit TTF members’ ability to make these decisions individually.  Any attempt to standardize compensation contracts through a collective process will reduce the valuable flexibility that is built into the current system.

The union website is here. No response as of yet. Please keep comments on track. It may take time for them to be approved, I’m swamped.

Faculty petition against union

3/21/2012: I’ve got some opinions about the faculty union. But they are not as strong as, say, my opinion that provost Jim Bean shouldn’t be making UO students pay for the jock box and his beamer. Or my opinion that JH administrators shouldn’t be hired in secret, kept on without review by the faculty, allowed to spend millions on nutty pet projects, and then given a “special assistant provost” job and a fat golden parachute when they finally hit their sell-by date. Or my opinion that George Pernsteiner shouldn’t ask taxpayers to cover his mortgage and maid service. So my main goal regarding the union is that this blog provide a neutral forum for faculty.

With that in mind, people should know that, in contrast to earlier statements from me and others, the state ERB *will* accept objections to the proposed union from faculty. Faculty objections do *not* have to be filtered through George Pernsteiner or Bob Berdahl.

Sandra Elliot of the ERB would, however, appreciate it if these faculty objections come in some organized form. She wrote today:

If there is a “group” that can agree on a specific objection or objections perhaps a brief statement of the objection and then signatures (dated of course). Then a copy to the petitioner [United Academics] so it will be considered “served.” It would be best if they were in writing and hand-delivered or US Mail. That said, individuals could do a letter to ERB and copy the petitioner, but if the volume of paper can be kept to a minimum it would be nice. You might also give a copy to Mr. Geller’s office so he will be aware of what objections are out there.

I know that many faculty are interested in writing or signing such a petition. (My advice is to ignore Randy Geller. Geller is the administration’s lawyer. He’s not a friend of faculty, pro-union or anti-union.)

With that in mind, I’m putting this post up as a place for faculty opposed to the union or to the union organizer’s definition of the bargaining unit to post comments about what they think should or should not be in such a petition. I would appreciate it if pro-union faculty would leave the comments on this particular post for those on the other side, if they want it. FWIW my union meta-FAQ is here.

ERB gives notice, asks for objections

Another update: A chicken writes in the comments:

For those who think the bargaining unit is inappropriate, I do think that individuals — not just the Admin. — have a formal right to object.

“Interested persons may notify the Board Agent of their specific objections. Such objections must also be served on the petitioner. Upon good cause shown, the Board Agent may call an interested person as a witness.” OAR 115-025-0030 (2)(e)

Lots more on the ERB’s rules and procedures

See e.g. OAR 115-025-0065(7) and OAR 115-025-0045 on hearings held in response to objections.

More still at

I emailed Sandra Elliot at the ERB and she clarified this somewhat:

And it is correct “interested persons” may file objections . . . and MUST serve them on the petitioner. Most of the “objections” I am hearing are that people want an election and there is a process for that (see OAR 115-025-0075). If valid objections are filed this case will be assigned to an administrative law judge to resolve objections relating to the composure of the bargaining unit, etc.

And she then sent this:

If there is a “group” that can agree on a specific objection or objections perhaps a brief statement of the objection and then signatures (dated of course). Then a copy to the petitioner so it will be considered “served.” It would be best if they were in writing and hand-delivered or US Mail. That said, individuals could do a letter to ERB and copy the petitioner, but if the volume of paper can be kept to a minimum it would be nice. You might also give a copy to Mr. Geller’s office so he will be aware of what objections are out there.

We have no examples because usually the only interested party is the employer. Like I said above, the simplest format would be a brief statement and then signatures of those who support the objection.

Update: The ERB tells me that only the administration can object to the composition of the proposed bargaining unit, but they add:

You could certainly make your thoughts known to your employer. While we would put any comments we receive in the file, it is up to the employer to address the objections.

If anyone hears of the administration preparing an objection, please post a comment. I have public records requests in to UO and OUS for docs showing if they have hired consultants/lawyers to help write an objection, etc. This is not the sort of thing they would trust Randy Geller to do competently.

3/20/2012. Full pdf here.

Some arguments against union

3/21/2012: Dan Dugger in math sends me a link to his webpage of arguments against the union, his full post is here. The union’s own page is here. Professor Dugger’s points include:

  • The United Academics union has acted in a way that does not inspire confidence.
  • The union claims to support faculty desire for greater “transparency” from the administration, but the union has itself not behaved in a transparent manner.
  • The interests of tenure-track faculty and non-tenure-track faculty are too inconsistent for these units to belong to a common union.
  • Unionization of college campuses is something this country has very little experience with; therefore, we should move very carefully and gives ourselves a way out if things don’t go well.
  • Unions are built on the power of the collective. However, there is also power in individualism, and this should not be ignored or undermined.
  • The full cost to the faculty of having a union has not been discussed.
  • Unions bargain by using the weapon of strikes; but on a campus, strikes hurt more than the administration—they hurt the students.
  • The way unions work runs in many ways opposite to the best interests of a research university.

"Faculty input not respected"

Gordon Sayre from English, quoted on the reasons for the UO faculty union victory in IHE: The story also explains that “The university has until April 4 to object to the petition for unionization, according to an official at the Employment Relations Board.” and that

Robert Berdahl, interim president at the university, said in an e-mail that the university was notified Wednesday that the authorization cards have been submitted. “The university has not had an opportunity to review the petition for certification yet and it is premature to comment further,” the e-mail said.

Union reports majority of TT faculty signed

3/13/2012: From the United Academics Faculty Union website:

We are VERY pleased to announce that on Tuesday March 13, United Academics filed union authorization cards – signed by a clear majority of UO tenure-track, non-tenure-track, and research faculty – with the state Employment Relations Board (ERB). 

 This is an important milestone and moves us one key step closer to forming our union and restoring a strong faculty voice in the future of the UO.  Our union will be formally certified once the Board confirms that the signed cards do indeed represent a majority.

United Academics includes tenure-track faculty, non-tenure-track faculty, and research faculty.  In addition to the solid overall majority, the union authorization cards we presented to the state ERB included majorities in each of the classifications of faculty represented. (emphasis added).

I think this lays to rest a lot of concerns. There are still hoops to jump through but no one seems to think they are major.

So, the immediate questions that come to mind are how will elections for union representatives be set up, bylaws written, dues, etc. Anyone know?