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.