Pre-bargaining Survey

All bargaining unit members are encouraged to fill out our pre-bargaining survey. This helps us organize our priorities in ways that reflect the needs and wishes of our members. The survey can be found here.

 

General Membership Meeting a Success!

packing them inLast Wednesday, United Academics members crowded into the Ford Alumni Center for our quarterly General Membership Meeting.

After spending a half-hour socializing, filling up at the burrito bar, and enjoying quality Oregon-based wine and beers, the members got down to business.

 

dreilingPresident Michael Dreiling welcomed the faculty and special guests to the meeting.

AFT-Oregon President David Rives updated the members on the several issues facing us on a state level, including the opportunities we now have after the Democrats solidified their hold on the statehouse. Susan Miller from AFT-Oregon reminded everyone of the AFT and AFT-Oregon benefits packages that all full members of the union can access and encouraged people to contact her susanm[at]aft-oregon[dot]org.

Joe Henry, President of the GTFF, spoke to the members about their bargaining struggles and their upcoming strike. He invited all members of campus to a labor rally in front of Johnson Hall at 11:30 am on Wednesday, November 12. Please plan to attend the rally if at all possible, the GTFF needs to show the administration the campus stands behind them.

mauerOur old friend from the AAUP, Mike Mauer, addressed the crowd about the goings on at AAUP. The AAUP has authorized an investigating team to visit UIUC to investigate, for possible censure, in the Prof. Stephen Salaita case. The AAUP and the AFT have begun negotiations for a 1st contract for the NTTF at UIUC, and we are jointly organizing the TT (the faculty at UIUC are in two separate bargaining units, as required by state law). He also reminded the members to check out the latest Academe that has an article by our very own Ron Bramhall.

olson The Chairs of the our committees gave updates on their actions over the summer. While all the updates were packed with information, the highlight was most assuredly Bill Harbaugh's announcement that we have successfully concluded our first audit. Each year, all AFT Locals with more than 1000 bargaining unit members (that's us), are requiredto undergo an outside audit. Not only was our audit successful, but Bill assured us that there will be no need to raise dues for the foreseeable future.

Deborah Olson gave everyone an update on the bargaining platform and announced that we would soon sending all members a bargaining survey.beers

The meeting ended on time at 7 pm, but many faculty kept conversations going for another hour or so.

Quick Guide to NTTF Policy Development

Recently, department and unit heads received notification that faculty need to begin crafting workload policies for their unit. This will be a major project for faculty and is part of our ongoing efforts to develop and document policies on our campus. While it is true that college deans have the right give input to faculty-developed policies, their input is merely advisory in the beginning stages. After faculty in departments and units have developed policies internally, deans can modify the policies. If deans do modify faculty-developed policies, they are obligated to meet with faculty to explain their modifications. Provosts must also approve policies and there is an opportunity to restore any faculty-developed provisions that deans may have modified.

Your engagement and full participation in developing the policies for your unit is vital for robust shared governance, so all faculty are encouraged to show up and be heard on these issues. In addition to studying the CBA [Art. 17, Art 19], please see the United Academics guidelines for the NTTF policies.

Our guidelines are consistent with the CBA and reflect our commitment that all policies should reflect local program needs and requirements.

NTTF PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITES

Each policy must address the professional responsibilities expectations for each NTTF classification and rank in each unit in the following areas:

  • Course load
  • Service expectations
  • Research, scholarship, and creative activity
  • Professional development related to teaching, research, and service
  • Undergraduate and graduate advising
  • Student contact and communication

Not all classifications or ranks will have expectations in all of these areas. The unit policy should note when there are no expectations for particular areas.

NTTF REVIEW AND PROMOTION

Each unit must develop written procedures and criteria for conducting contract renewal reviews and promotion.

  • Reviews are to ensure that faculty are meeting the standards of excellence and to help faculty grow as scholars, identify areas of strength and areas that need improvement.
  • Criteria for evaluation should be linked to the unit’s workload policy. Faculty cannot be evaluated for work that they were not assigned to do.
  • Criteria for promotion should provide a guide for departmental committee decisions on recommendations for promotion.

The CBA, guidelines from the Provost, input from Deans, and the guidelines from United Academics should all be consulted as you work on and deliberate each policy in the months ahead. Once again, feel free to contact United Academics and arrange for an officer or member of the contract implementation committee to visit your department and consult with faculty in your unit as you develop these policies. talk with UA small white border (1)

NTTF Workload Guidelines

NTTF Workload Guidelines

Recently, many departments and employing units received notification that they need to begin crafting workload policies for their unit. This will be a major project for our campus and is part of our ongoing efforts to develop and document policies on our campus. Deans and department heads will be providing input in this process, but in the spirit of shared governance and the collective bargaining agreement, the primary responsibility for developing these policies rests with faculty. To facilitate this important work, United Academics has some crafted some general guidelines for crafting NTTF workload policies; to access them, please click here.

A team of union leaders has been working with a university administration team to help deans develop their policies. Through the course of that work, we looked at draft policies from the deans and worked to identify areas that are particularly problematic. Because these were internal university administration documents, the union’s role was to identify and advise about areas of the draft policies that were in conflict with the Collective Bargaining Agreement or might be particular problematic for faculty. We identified several areas in the several documents and gave the university our feedback.

When we were reviewing these documents, we were particularly emphatic that deans needed to respect the fact that these are to be faculty-developed workload policies and their input was only supposed to be a starting point for the faculty discussions.

To be clear, the union is dictating no policies and no provisions of any policies. Through bargaining, the university and the union agreed that departments and units should retain local control over many policies, including workload.  The university and the union agreed that the faculty in each unit should develop these policies using input from their deans. The deans are supposed to be providing general guidelines to help with this work. It is true that deans will have the right to modify faculty-developed policies, but they will only be able to do this after the faculty develop their unit policy and they will have to meet with the faculty to explain their decisions. We strongly encourage all faculty to substitute whatever course load makes sense for your unit for the dean’s draft language.

If you have additional questions about NTTF workload, please contact the office at info[at]uauoregon.org.

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Information on potential GTFF strike.

The Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation (GTFF) held an emergency meeting on Friday, October 17, and their members voted to reject the university administration’s latest offer. The GTFF declared impasse and filed appropriate paperwork with the Employment Relations Board. If they do go ahead with a strike, it would be most likely to occur in week 10 or finals week.

There has been plenty of conversation around campus about how faculty should respond in the event of a strike by the GTFF. The university administration has been urging deans and department heads to get faculty to volunteer to replace striking GTFs. Some department and unit heads have raised tough questions about the implications for graduate students of these strike-breaking initiatives, presented by the “Academic Continuity Team” of the administration. We understand that these plans involve department heads arranging one-on-one meetings with faculty to discuss their willingness to take on additional work and replace striking graduate student employees. We also understand that the administration may press deans and unit heads to enlist non-tenure-track faculty for this purpose – a troubling prospect, given the greater vulnerability of NTT faculty to such pressure. It remains to be seen whether the university administration will follow through on any of these plans.

Settling a fair contract is the best way to avoid disruptions from a strike. We hesitate to speak for a sister union, but you can read about the history of their bargaining and the reasoning behind their actions at their website. We fail to understand the administration’s resistance to paying GTFs a living wage or providing them with a bare minimum of sick leave, the two issues that remain unresolved.

In the event that no agreement is reached, however, we think it is important for everyone in the UA bargaining unit to understand their rights and obligations under the collective bargaining agreement.

First and foremost, remember that if you are called into a meeting to discuss a potential GTFF strike, you have the right to ask for union representation. You can request union representation by replying to this email.

In addition to the information we released previously, we hope the following points will help you through a potential strike:

  • Faculty need not cross a GTFF picket line beyond their contractual obligation to fulfill specific on-campus responsibilities.

Under Oregon state law and by the provisions of our collective bargaining agreement (CBA), faculty cannot engage in a “strike, slowdown, walkout, refusal to report to work, mass absenteeism, or other interruptions of work” while our CBA is still in effect. Practically speaking, this means you cannot join a GTFF strike and refuse to cross the picket line. You are legally obligated to perform the work you are contracted to do. It would support the striking GTFs, though, if you did not cross their picket line to perform work you are not contracted to do on campus. Staying away from campus, except to fulfill contractual obligations, is one way to aid this effort.

  • Faculty have no professional or moral obligation to volunteer to perform the work of striking GTFs.

If the University of Oregon behaves as other administrations have done in similar situations, the administration will try to pressure faculty to cover for striking GTFFs by calling on our commitment to our mission to provide an excellent education to the undergraduate students. They will appeal to our commitment to our careers in order to prevail over the GTFF.

Whatever your stance on the GTFF negotiations, we believe strongly that we have a duty to support our graduate student scholars-in-training in their fight for basic rights in the workplace. We know our graduate teaching fellows are committed to undergraduate education; we work with them every day and see their dedication. We know that striking is a last resort for our GTFs. Standing with our fellow academic employees and graduate students will help us all build a better university.

  • Faculty need not volunteer to perform the work of striking GTFs.

No faculty member is under any obligation to volunteer for a striking academic employee, no matter how trivial the work. The university administration has stated a preference for having faculty volunteer to perform the work of striking GTFs. You have no contractual obligation to volunteer.

  • Faculty have the right to refuse to be assigned the work of striking GTFs if they believe that the additional workload is unreasonable.

Our CBA states “Bargaining unit faculty members will not unreasonably refuse to perform [striking GTF] work.” We agreed then, and we agree now, that faculty should not unreasonably refuse to perform such work. We also strongly believe that the determination of what work is or is not unreasonable should be decided by the faculty, who are, after all, in the best position to judge whether additional work in the last two weeks of the term is “unreasonable.” The administration may well disagree with an individual faculty member’s definition of “unreasonable,” nor can we predict how a dispute of “unreasonableness” would fare in arbitration. In light of these uncertainties, faculty should assert their desire to have a union representative present in negotiations with deans and unit heads.

  • Faculty have their own work. Faculty have full teaching loads. Faculty have full research loads. Faculty have full lives. Most faculty have no additional time, energy, or ability to take on extra work in the last two weeks of the term.

We do not, at this time, know what will happen if administrators, including department or unit heads, try to assign work to faculty. We strongly urge faculty members to consult with union officers or staff if they wish to refuse an assignment on the grounds that an assignment is unreasonable. We strongly believe that most, if not all, faculty members will not be in a position to accept additional work at a time when the workload is already heavy. We do not expect that the university will attempt to assign additional work to faculty until we get closer to a potential strike. Finally, we believe that any additional work that faculty members take should be considered an overload, which would have to be compensated. Faculty, in other words, have the right to ask, “If I do this overload work, what will the compensation be?”

The GTFF has never gone out on strike, so this will be the campus’s first experience with a graduate employee strike. We will have to work together and cooperate to ensure that everyone understands their rights and obligations.

We have posted more information about a potential GTFF strike in a Frequently Asked Questions page. If you have additional questions about a GTF strike, please contact the office at info[at]uauoregon.org.

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Presidential Search Committee needed more faculty: Thanks for Listening, Board of Trustees

On September 10, 2014 I sent a letter to the UO Board of Trustees [here], explaining why the principle of shared governance is critical to the presidential search process and why United Academics is uniquely positioned to contribute positively to that process. United Academics brings faculty together in ways that are distinct from, yet complementary to the University Senate. For example, our bargaining unit includes faculty who do not have formal representation or votes in the University Senate (adjunct instructors and fixed term funding contingent research faculty). In that letter and in my public testimony to the Board of Trustees, I asked that the process be responsive to all stakeholders at the UO – faculty through UA and the University Senate, students through ASUO, graduate employees through GTFF, classified staff through SEIU local, and officers of administration through the OA Council.

On September 11, the BOT rolled out a presidential search process that, though approved by the board, received considerable criticism. [see links] It was important that we, as faculty, ask for more representation, especially given the lack of faculty from CAS social sciences and humanities in either of the two-tiered search committees. I contacted Prof. Susan Gary on the board and she responded very proactively to my requests and helped broker a process to add additional faculty to the presidential search advisory committee. The Board of Trustees listened and responded to our request with positive steps.

On behalf of United Academics and faculty across campus, I personally wish to thank Prof. Gary and the rest of the Board for taking additional steps to broaden faculty input in the presidential search process. It is worth recalling why we at United Academics lobbied the state legislature (with students and staff) to assure a seat on the new independent governing boards. With our friends at Portland State University (AAUP), the AFT, and in the legislature, faculty, staff, and students won the right to have seats on the independent governing boards. Finally, a big thank you to the additional faculty who volunteered to have their names advanced to the Board. Let’s keep the positive momentum.

Michael Dreiling

http://registerguard.com/rg/news/local/32204864-75/uo-trustees-bolster-faculty-voice-in-presidential-search.html.csp
http://around.uoregon.edu/content/additional-faculty-members-added-search-panel
https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2014/09/15/u-oregon-search-criticized-faculty
http://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/opinion/editorials/2014/09/14/uo-takes-wrong-approach-seeking-new-president/15634233/
http://registerguard.com/rg/news/local/32144484-75/how-to-choose-a-uo-president.html.csp
http://www.oregonlive.com/education/index.ssf/2014/09/university_of_oregon_takes_new.html