Message from VP-TTF

Dear colleagues,

I’m writing today to introduce myself as the newly elected VP for Tenure Track Faculty in United Academics. United Academics is a community of faculty at the UO working together to enhance the quality of faculty work life and student education. You are probably aware that we recently negotiated and signed our second contract with the university. Our first CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) brought about vital and positive changes to the working conditions of faculty and instituted some clear and equitable policies and procedures that were long overdue. Our second contract made further significant gains. Not only have we secured raises (both cost of living and merit) over the lengths of both contracts, we have also protected our benefits and improved working conditions for faculty across all ranks and units.
Some of the most important issues for tenure-track faculty addressed in our first two contracts have been those of shared governance, faculty voice in policies and procedures, transparency and accountability.
*Our new contract includes attention to resources for faculty research and advancement, the kinds of investment that are particularly vital for faculty productivity, recruitment and retention.

*The CBA insures that there is faculty input in the development and clarification of procedures and policies for reviews, promotion, and workloads.

*One of the most exciting initiatives on which United Academics has taken a lead is the new first-year faculty development program that will provide mentorship and support for new faculty in the early stages of their academic careers.

*In the area of benefits and work and family life, we were able to negotiate a commitment on the part of the university to work with us to explore the possibility of a university community sick leave bank. We have another committee focusing on child-care for faculty parents.

*Our negotiations also led the administration to agree to a campus-wide study of salary equity issues, including gender equity.

As VP for TTF, I am particularly eager to get to know the tenure-track faculty. I want to hear what you are interested in and concerned about. What’s working and what needs work? How can we, collectively as faculty, best advocate and work for conditions that both enhance our productivity and satisfaction in our work and contribute to the success of our students? What should our priorities be, moving forward? We are a member-run union–do you have ideas or suggestions for how to increase full membership by faculty in United Academics?

Please think of me as a resource and contact me with questions, ideas, concerns at mcpherson@uauoregon.org.
best wishes,

Karen McPherson
Professor of French
Vice President for Tenure-Track Faculty

General Membership Meeting – Fall 2015

Tuesday, October 6, 5-7 pm, Ford Alumni Center Ballroom

All full members of the union are invited to the Fall 2015 General Membership Meeting!

This meeting will feature a discussion of the new collective bargaining agreement reached over the summer, with opportunity for questions from members and bargaining team members on hand to answer.

We will also be holding the beginning of the ratification vote at the meeting.

As always, food (burritos!) will be served at 5 pm and the meeting proper will being at 5:30 pm. Beer, wine, and soda will also be available.

Tuesday, October 6, 5-7 pm, Ford Alumni Center Ballroom

Ratification!

One of the main responsibilities of full members of the union is to vote on whether or not to ratify collective bargaining agreements. The provisions bargained by your negotiating team cannot go into effect unless approved by the membership.

United Academics will be conducting a ratification vote October 6th-9th in order to allow all eligible members of United Academics to have their say on the agreement reached in August.

On October 6, eligible members of United Academics can vote at the General Membership Meeting from 5-7 pm in the Ford Alumni Center.

October 7, 8, and 9, eligible members can cast a ballot in the union office at 872 E. 13th Ave between the hours of 9 am and 4:30 pm.

Members eligible to vote are those that were employed by the University of Oregon in the last 12 months and were or are full members when employed. Faculty who are not full members but would like to vote on the CBA can join the union at the General Membership Meeting or the union office.

In order to be an informed voter, you can read a summary of the changes to the agreement or read the full agreement. You can also read all the proposals exchanged between the two parties.

Is the UO Really Broke? (Spoiler Alert: No)

UO Balance Sheet

Last night, Howard Bunsis, Professor of Accounting at Eastern Michigan University and Chair of the American Association of University Professors Collective Bargaining Congress, gave a presentation tackling the question, "Is the UO really broke?"

His simple answer was "no."

Bunsis presented his answer to a full house of faculty, classified staff, graduate students, undergraduates, and community members in Lawrence 115. Using data he culled from the UO's financial reports, OUS reports, IPEDS data, and bond reports, he painted a picture of a university with a health revenue stream, growing reserves, and solid financial outlook for the foreseeable future.

UO Reserves

Months of reserves

Throughout his presentation, Bunsis was careful to emphasize that his report was a synthesis of the data reported out by the UO. He admitted that he bleeds union, but that he was just reporting the facts as he reads them.

Bond Ratings

S&P report

He did, however, make one prediction, namely that the UO will see surplus revenue in the $6-10 million range this year. His prediction stands in stark contrast to Vice President for Finance and Administration Jamie Moffit's prediction for next year. When she presented the UO's financial data during our April bargaining session, she said the administration was just hoping we'd be "run-rate even" this year, despite the university's revised budget projecting a $4.5 million deficit. As Bunsis revealed, the university's unrestricted reserves have increased to over $100 million and are projected to grow even larger in the coming years.

Bunsis's information bolstered what we have been saying for the last few months - the UO has money, the administration just closes to spend it on things that are not faculty salaries. We have been saying "budgets reflect priorities" and calling on the administration to prioritize faculty. Unfortunately, to this pint, the administration has not heeded that call.

You can see all the slides from Bunsis's presentation here.

Bargaining Update: “Visiting” versus “Adjunct”

In one of the early bargaining sessions, the administration’s team proposed several changes to our current system of job titles, classifications, and ranks. One was to create a new classification for “visiting” faculty. Under their proposal, two types of faculty members could be assigned to the “visiting” classification: academic scholars from other institutions who are here for a short time, as well as new PhDs on short-term contracts.

The rationale was this: new faculty should be able to launch their careers using a classification—“visiting”—that would not saddle them with the “adjunct” label. They explained that these young scholars would be soon moving into the academic job market where their chances for tenure-track jobs might be hurt if their c.v. had the dreaded pejorative, “adjunct.”

In our counter-proposal, we accepted the university administration’s reasoning, but applied it to all of our temporary faculty. We proposed that with the exception of postdoctoral scholars, all faculty who work in temporary positions should have the title “visiting.” We reasoned that all of our temporary faculty should be advantaged on the academic job market, should they choose to continue to pursue an academic career elsewhere.

A member of our team, Ron Bramhall, spoke eloquently on the meaning of “adjunct” and how the word is used to stigmatize faculty. An adjunct, Ron explained, is something joined or added to another thing but is not an essential part of it. By definition, the term “adjunct” insinuates that a number of our colleagues are not really part of the university. Ron rejected the notion that these faculty should be defined as separate, apart, and other.

Unfortunately, the administration’s team rejected our proposal – to abolish stigmatization by referring to all temporary faculty as “visiting” –at our last bargaining session. Instead, they dropped their earlier proposal to classify new scholars “visiting” and are now proposing we return to labeling almost all of our temporary faculty as “adjunct.”

Distressingly, the administration stated that they wanted to preserve and reinforce this stigmatizing and belittling terminology because of its long “tradition” in academia. They want to preserve it even though they understand, by their own admission, that the title “adjunct” can harm the career prospects of anyone who carries such a title, whereas the title “visiting professor” can help them along. The administration is saying, in effect, that it is more important for them to maintain the “traditional” nomenclature than it is to give young faculty a leg up on the job market.

We continue to reject the idea that some of our faculty should have a job title that defines them as outsiders, marks them as inferior, and hurts their prospects for future employment. Working through the Collective Bargaining Agreement, we have been rethinking how our university works, with particular attention to improving the work life of our non-tenure-track faculty. We will continue this work by ensuring the words we use are welcoming, inclusive, and enfranchising.