UA Article 36, Strike/Lockout

The Article 36 proposal, put forward by UA, states that the union will not call for a strike.  This is great news for those of us who will never go out on strike. Find it here .

However, it seems from some of the summaries I read, that this no strike clause is, in a way, in exchange for the arbitration agreement. From what I can tell, this clause says the union will take all grievances into arbitration even if the person filing the grievance doesn’t want that to happen. I may be unclear on the details, though.

Also, sort of off topic, faculty at Wayne State University authorized a strike even though it is against the law in that state for public employees to go on strike. Read more here .

Read the First Round of Union Proposals

United Academics has posted at their web page, here all the proposals that were presented to the UO Administration in the first 2 days of bargaining, December 13-14, 2012. Thanks to UA for making this material available so promptly. Comments and discussion are welcome.

Reflections on day two of bargaining

First, thanks to Becky for attending most of day one and day two. We will likely ask for company in attending sessions, since it is nice to have someone you can turn to, chat with, and double check what you’ve heard. Please come to a session. These are important matters which should be discussed at places other than than a bargaining table, but we can at least make our opinions known if we attend and comment. (Of course we can also comment on any proposals and counterproposals made available in writing, which I hope most will be).

My impressions and opinions (assuming I heard correctly), roughly in order of importance (to me):

UA has a no-strike clause in its proposal.   Kudos to UA (I’ve said that twice now) for taking the possibility of a strike off the table.

Some UA asks with financial consequences: more money for sabbaticals (with more people eligible, it seems); a pooling of leave days.  Both of these could be good ideas, depending upon implementation.  In the former, eligible faculty will for example get 100% pay for a one-quarter sabbatical, addressing an issue some have brought up of not being in a financial position to take even one quarter at 85%.  In the latter, there will be a bank of sick/leave days which can be shared or donated (so you could “borrow” or maybe(?) “receive” leave days from others in the pool who are not using them.  Rudnick (the University’s lawyer) said that such pools elsewhere increase the amount of leave used (that would be the point) and wanted cost estimates.  There will probably be differences in how the costs are understood by each side, and some first posturing on such today.  Addressing needs of faculty starting families, especially women, is one main concern.

For the issue of class sizes, UA is proposing to work from a metric of percentage of class sizes under 20 (or maybe 28? – others heard differently).  Currently the percentage on campus is 37% while the AAU average is 52%.  UA is proposing that we get to 42% under some timeframe (I don’t recall, but probably in the 2-5 year range).  My question: while class size is an issue on this campus and such a metric a sensible enough rough proxy, is this as part of the CBA getting us much of anywhere?  Don’t we need to look at finer grain sizes – by majors and levels within those majors, asking departments to identify where class size might be an issue?  President Gottfredson is saying that increasing the size of our tenure-related faculty (at or above our current level of quality) is his highest priority, so these numbers will be changing regardless of the CBA.

The grievance process seems like it will mostly follow current University policy, with perhaps a bit more structure and opportunity for mediation/ arbitration.  One change which many will not like: UA wants to be at the table at any grievance and wants the right to grieve on behalf of members of the bargaining unit even if they are not interested in doing so on their own behalf.  “No faculty member is an island” sayeth UA.  This seems standard to “preserve the integrity of the CBA”, but will nonetheless upset some.

There was some discussion about overhead rates and related matters, but it is hard to understand what UA was proposing from the conversation.  Under standard bargaining, this kind of issue is not on the table (it is not about pay, benefits or working conditions, so there is no legal obligation for it to be on the table), and Rudnick pushed back on this.  I suspect the University will want that off the table.  It will be interesting to see if this becomes a sticking point.

Many small (but important to some) issues brought up: faculty handbook online, bike lockers, prevent students parking in faculty-staff spots, access to copiers and the gym… Good that they’ll probably be addressed, but seems like there should be a better way to address them.


Keep informed!

Dr. Barbara Altman, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, is also posting about the sessions here . Becky Dorsey, who attended yesterday’s meeting, told us that there is a ton of information going back and forth at these meetings. Please do your best to be well informed about what is happening–read our blog, read the UA proposals (link to the right), read Dr. Altman’s postings. Please also discuss and share what you learn here. Thank you. This sharing of information benefits us all.

Tenure decisions: should outside reviewers be told to say whether the candidate should get tenure at the UO?

Having been an outside reviewer several times, I’ve been asked a variety of questions about tenure candidates, including:

1. Should this individual get tenure at “name this institution”?

2. Would this individual get tenure at your institution?

I’ve also written letters where I’ve been instructed to NOT indicate my thoughts on the tenurability of the individual and other times I’ve had no instructions at all.

Most often, I’m only provided with research output of a candidate, and am lacking specifics on teaching and services. In addition, different units value the three legs of the ‘academic stool’ differently: for example, some require excellence in research, others excellence in research and teaching.

Apparently a union proposal is to codify these letters that we send to outside reviewers and ask for an opinion on tenurability at the UO. Good idea?Bad idea? Should it be included in the CBA? 

Collective Bargaining Gets Underway

I was present for most of this morning’s session, the first main round of collective bargaining. It was a professional and respectful exchange in which United Academics (UA) presented a first round of proposals and the administration responded with requests for clarification and one or two talking points. Nothing of substance was agreed on but some philosophical positions were staked out. In negotiations like this, one person does all the talking for each side. Today it was (and will likely continue to be) Michael Mauer of the AAUP for United Academics, and Sharon Rudnick with the Eugene law firm HLGR speaking for the UO administration. 

Mauer’s opening remarks focused on the need for improved working conditions, institutional transparency, job stability, professional respect, and enhancing the voice of faculty at the UO. The goal of negotiations is not to create a new set of rules for the University, but to keep things that work and change things that need to be changed, thereby improving the university.  He said that the contract proposal will recognize substantial differences between different disciplines and departments; some proposals will be across the board and others will vary by discipline and department. The focus of today’s session was on “non-economic” proposals, those that do not bear directly on salaries and wages. The central two goals of these “non-economic” proposals are (as I was able to capture them) to: (1) enhance stability through improved job security, and (2) improve opportunities for career advancement, especially for NTTF who do not have a well defined career path at the UO. I was impressed with Mauer’s articulate and well-reasoned presentation of the main themes to be presented in contract negotiations.

Many of the above points reflect admirable aspirations that are welcomed by all, including the union skeptics here at this forum. We expect interesting discussions to develop around issues such as shared governance (what is the role of the union?), academic rank, promotion and tenure policies, application of past practices, composition of the bargaining unit, contracts, salaries, and much more. Stay tuned for more in the next week or so, and look for text of the UA proposals at their website, here

Who is In and Who is Out

1. Who is In: I agree with DTruck and others that United Academics has given us a “crazy” bargaining unit that merges TTF, NTTF, postdocs, and officers of research into a single group that will be represented in a single set of negotiations with the administration. We are told that this group of employees, with their vastly different professional responsibilities, career tracks, and concerns, represent a single coherent “community of interest”. I would like to know how this combination of employees was chosen, and why I should agree that it makes any sense. 

2. Who Is Out: The list of excluded faculty, comprising a full 25% of TTF faculty at the UO, was drawn up behind closed doors in negotiations between the Union and the UO last spring. There was no clear statement of how the two parties agreed on the list of TTF to be excluded, despite many questions about this particular point. I would understand if the Union and the UO had agreed to exclude faculty who supervise other members of the bargaining unit, but many of the excluded TTFs supervise only graduate students, not postdocs or lab technicians. So why are those TTF faculty members excluded? 

Apparently the list of excluded TTF faculty is based on a definition of “supervisor” according to labor law in Oregon. A link at the United Academics website says “there is some ongoing confusion about who is currently in the bargaining unit and who is not in the unit. This confusion is understandable, given the ambiguous nature of Oregon law concerning the definitions of who is, or is not, a supervisor. We have agreed to continue working with the university administration to clarify exactly who should be defined as a supervisor and, therefore, not included in the bargaining unit. As of now, however, the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by the two parties on April 24 is the controlling agreement for determining who is in and who is out of the bargaining unit.”

The fact that bargaining sessions will be open to the public raises some hope that we might learn more about this and other issues soon. Comments and insights are welcome. 

Two years into collective bargaining

and Bowling Green State’s faculty union still does not have an agreement. The Prez got a raise though. Read more: here

Kudos to UA and Administration for open bargaining sessions

United Academics and the Administration have agreed to have bargaining sessions which are open to the public. The first meetings will be December 13, from 9-1, and December 14, from 1-5, in the Knight Library Collaboration Center (Room 122).

We heartily applaud the decision to have open sessions. With our contracts are being negotiated, and campus processes are being changed, being able to witness the proceedings (and later make commentary) can begin to ameliorate to a small degree the un-democratic, non-represenative nature of union process. The collective bargaining process can be pretty divisive. Closed meetings, conflicting accounts of them, and resulting finger pointing all can be a source of divisiveness. This is a good sign for things going forward, as is UA’s promise of having merit as part of their proposal (though this doesn’t address all concerns about merit – more in a later post).

University of Michigan Union News

This story discusses how lecturers at UM are bargaining for pay equal to TTF:

Click here for UM story