Bargaining Update — March 9, 2015

BARGAINING UPDATE

Bargaining resumes between United Academics and the university administration on Thursday 12 March, 10:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m., in the Knight Library Collaboration Center, Room 122. It had been previously announced that the university administration’s team would present their proposal on economics at the next session; this is, however, no longer the case. We will inform you as soon as we know when the administration expects to present its counter-proposal. In the meantime, please attend our bargaining sessions. There is much more than economics at stake.

The CAS Workload Policy Debacle

As most colleagues have heard by now, the College of Arts and Sciences deans are attempting to abuse the existing process for developing workload policies, which the CBA places squarely in the departments and units, to impose “standardized” and “regularized” workloads for non-tenure-track faculty.

For career NTT faculty, the deans “affirmed” a “standard”* workload of nine courses per year in the Humanities and Social Sciences, plus .1 FTE service, for a full-time appointment. In the Natural Sciences, the deans decreed a six-course load, plus .1 FTE for service. In all three divisions, adjuncts with a full-time appointment would have to teach an additional course, i.e., ten courses in the Humanities and Social Sciences, seven in the Natural Sciences.

The deans have justified this unilateral policy by claiming that five comparator universities currently have workloads similar to CAS’s new annual course load. Recently, Academic Affairs shared the CAS research with us and we were given permission to disseminate the data. This is what they sent:

NTT Workload Spreadsheet

These “data,” however, do not support the proposition that nine course is a standard load for our comparators in the Humanities and Social Sciences, nor is six courses a standard load in the Natural Sciences. The data are incomplete; the sample is small and highly selective; nor does it consider exceptions, such as course releases, in granular detail. Despite even these flaws, the data describe a wide variation: some of the universities chosen by the deans for comparison require nine courses of their non-tenure-track faculty, others don’t; some of those universities have a standard load across all three divisions, but others don’t; some universities standardize, most don’t. The general picture is one of variety, not uniformity. There is no obvious pattern, and to suggest otherwise is misleading at best.

Chris Newfield, “The Price of Privatization”

On Thursday, February 26, Christopher Newfield, Professor of English at UC-Santa Barbara, presented “The Price of Privatization: Faculty Governance — How it Can Be Rebuilt.” Newfield’s lecture was sponsored by United Academics and the Department of Political Science. For a full report, click here.

College of Education Town Hall

On Friday afternoon, March 6, fifteen tenure-track, research, and instructional NTT faculty from the College of Education met with their United Academics assembly representatives and stewards. For a full report, click here.

 

*The workload CAS set for the Department of Mathematics is eleven and the workload for Instructional Track professors in the American English Institute is 13.5.
Source: Email correspondence between Bruce Blonigen and the associate deans in the College of Arts and Sciences at these comparator institutions during fall 2014, with the exception of UC Santa Barbara, which comes from a published policy to the effect that “at UCSB the normal teaching load for lecturers in the SOE [i.e., security of employment] series is three courses per quarter or an appropriate equivalent.”

Statement on Faculty Workloads

Should every unit in the College of Arts and Sciences have the same teaching load?

No. Of course not. And yet, over the past few weeks, the associate deans in CAS have edited and returned policies, crafted at the departmental level in thoughtful consultation with faculty of all ranks, to establish the professional responsibilities—or workload—for our non-tenure-track colleagues. They show every sign of rolling out a similar plan for tenure track faculty. The deans have disregarded the nuance of faculty input and imposed uniform policies on the departments instead. In particular, the CAS deans have sought to compel all departments and units in the Humanities and Social Sciences divisions to accept a one-size-fits-all, nine-course workload for career non-tenure-track faculty and a ten-course workload for adjunct faculty. For departments and units in the Natural Sciences division, the CAS deans have decreed an across-the-board six-course load for NTT faculty. We do not yet know why the CAS deans think that standard NTT workloads should be higher in some divisions than others.

Nothing in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) requires uniform workloads, either for tenure-track or non-tenure-track faculty. In some of their first discussions about unionization, the members of United Academics agreed on the fundamental principle that any bargaining agreement should honor and respect the rich diversity of disciplines and pedagogies that make any university, including the University of Oregon, an environment of lively intellectual exchange and learning. We recognized at the outset that the content and demands of teaching, as well as it balance with research and service, vary enormously across campus, and that any attempt to enforce a uniform standard would flatten and homogenize that rich diversity. This spirit is what we bargained. The CBA says workload policies should be faculty-developed at the unit level. Unfortunately, it appears that the CAS deans have decided to ignore not only the spirit of the CBA, but also the diversity that makes us the University of Oregon

What can you do?

  • Support United Academics’ bargaining team: at the Thursday, February 26, session, your bargaining team will propose new language for the “Salary” article in the CBA, that will require any increase in workload to be matched by a corresponding increase in salary. Bargaining will begin at 10:00 a.m. at the Ford Alumni Center, Room 403.
  • Express your views to Provost Frances Bronet and to the Vice-Provosts for Academic Affairs, Doug Blandy and Barbara Altman: By undoing the work of implementation and faculty consultation, the interventions by CAS violate basic principles of shared governance—principles that both the administration and the union agreed to in our CBA.
  • Get involved! United Academics is only as strong as its members are engaged. As a first step: attend United Academics’ General Membership Meeting on March 3, 2015, in Gerlinger Hall, 5:00-7:00. You can also volunteer to serve as a United Academics steward in your department or unit: call Kristy at 541-686-4714 or email at info@uauoregon.org.

 

UPDATE: This statement has been revised to reflect new information about workload policies in the Natural Sciences.

United Academics Press Release

EUGENE, OR FEB. 24, 2015 – United Academics of the University of Oregon, AAUP-AFT Local 3209, will present the union’s opening economic proposals to the university administration’s bargaining team Feb. 26.

In order to enhance UO’s competitiveness with peer universities, the union will be looking for a wage package with a cost-of-living adjustment, merit, and equity increases. Facility will also be seeking to improve the salary minimums for the lowest-paid instructors and researchers.

“We need a full wage package because faculty salaries at UO are so far behind those of our comparators.” United Academics bargaining team member Juanita Devereaux said. “We need to address inequities created by years of wage freezes.”

Union leadership is optimistic there are adequate funds to provide fair and equitable wages for UO facility.

“We are confident that the money exists in the university budget to provide fair wages. The UO has a $900 million budget and our proposal will have only a minimal impact,” Union President and Bargaining Chair Michael Dreiling said. “We look forward to working with the university administration to ensure that budget priorities stay focused on UO’s research and teaching mission because a university that fails to invest in the faculty will struggle to deliver academic excellence.”

The administration has already set proposed tuition increases for the coming academic year and salary increases for faculty are expected to have no impact on undergraduate or graduate tuition rates.

This is the second round of negotiations between United Academics, the union representing 1800 faculty at the University of Oregon, and the university administration’s bargaining team.

The Feb. 26 bargaining session is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Room 403 of the Ford Alumni Center. All bargaining sessions are open to the campus community and the general public. All interested parties are encouraged to attend.

 

Contact:

Michael Dreiling
Professor of Sociology 
PHONE 541-337-4285
dreiling@uauoregon.org

 

Juanita Devereaux
Senior Career Instructor in Romance Languages
PHONE 541-346-0577
juanitamdevereaux@gmail.com

Request to Postpone Board Resolution on Policies

Dear President Coltrane,

We very much appreciated your taking the time to engaged with the Senate Executive Committee and other faculty yesterday evening.

Attached please find a request and analysis of how we can move forward — and the reasons why it is essential to ask for the Board resolution to be withdrawn, in favor of engaging in a collaborative process to improve policy-making at the University.

We feel it is important to draw attention to one thing that seems not to have been part of discussions — that UO Policies 01.00.01 and 01.00.02 contain within them specific provisions for making changes even to themselves (that is, to the policy process at the University) on an interim or emergency basis.  Given this flexibility, it is even more apparent that there is no need to have this matter of university procedures elevated to the level of the Board of Trustees at this time.

The Senate and other faculty leaders stand ready to work with you within that flexible authority to make any needed changes to the policy development process on a short-term basis and to work to enshrine needed changes into the UO policy process on a longer term basis.  We have of course discussed this with Senate President Kyr and you already know of his willingness to drive changes forward.

Given that, there is no need whatsoever to have the policy process taken up to the Board level at the present time.

Request to Postpone Board Resolution on Policies

Best regards,

John E. Bonine, B.B. Kliks Professor of Law

Michael Dreiling, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Sociology, President of United Academics

Jennifer Freyd, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology

State of Play, December 1

Last-minute negotiations between the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation and the university administration, still ongoing, have not yet resulted in a settlement. We commend all who are working hard to find a settlement. And though we certainly hope that a last-minute agreement can be found, a strike of some limited duration by the GTFF is likely. For the GTFF’s latest update on bargaining, click here.

It is worth reiterating that we at United Academics understand the tough place many faculty face, and that we have no desire to tell faculty how they ought to behave in this crisis. Some faculty with GTF-supported classes will indeed get their grades submitted without compromising their autonomy as faculty or the integrity of their courses. For many, however, there is no way to do this: there will simply be too many ungraded assignments and faculty have the right to refuse to take on so much extra work. In what follows, we intend to offer some analysis of the administration’s options and present a fuller picture of faculty options for GTF-supported classes.

The administration is ramping up its preparations for a strike and increasing pressure on faculty

  • to do the work of GTFs;
  • to employ questionable evaluation methods, including assigning a final grade based on incomplete work;
  • to hire unqualified assistants; and
  • to assign “place-holder” grades.

This latest suggestion by some deans involves inserting “place-holder” grades for all students. Since we have seen a range of examples of what the “place-holder” grade entails — from assigning a uniform grade (C or A) for all students in the class to assigning a grade based on performance at some mid-term benchmark — the specifics will depend on what a dean conveys to a department head and what that department head in turns asks of faculty. In the Department of History, Professor Matt Dennis wrote to his students explaining why such place-holders are, for him, unacceptable (for the full letter, click here). Like Dennis, many faculty are concerned not only about the violation of academic integrity that assigning place-holders would entail, but also that doing so will likely impact how students evaluate the course. Many faculty with GTF-supported classes are finding these and other options presented by the “Academic Continuity Team” to be flawed on several grounds, all of which we, some department heads, and the University Senate have pointed out before.

In the meantime, the lack of consistency is leading to confusing messages from some department heads that are both questionable, and inconsistent with President Coltrane’s statement that faculty maintain control of courses.

For our part, we are confident that faculty with GTF-supported classes have another option: proceed with our classes as planned, even if the grading of assignments and the submission of grades are delayed. Though this option may result in no grades submitted until the administration and GTFF reach a settlement, it is the option that allows faculty the fullest control over our courses (see ‘X’ Grades and Financial Aid: The Facts of the Matter).

If the administration and the GTFF do not settle by finals week, many courses’ final grades will likely be delayed until a settlement is reached, no matter what mitigation efforts the administration attempts. The GTFF have communicated to their members to be prepared to return to work once the terms of settlement are agreed. All incomplete grading can be completed then. At that point, any remaining final grades can be submitted. Meanwhile, we will encourage leaders on both sides to strive for a settlement.

See also our previous posts:

What To Do About Grading: A Rough Guide

Maintaining Collegiality under Pressure

In the last few weeks, many of us have struggled with the implications of a potential strike by the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation. We find ourselves caught between a rock and a hard place: though the two sides seem now to be quite close on matters of substance, there remain disagreements that will almost certainly result in a strike. That possibility poses many practical questions for which there often seem to be few workable answers—how will undergraduate get true grades in a timely manner? How should we faculty balance our commitments to all of our students, graduate as well as undergraduate? How are we to read the sometimes-conflicting signals we receive from administration, department heads, and colleagues? In several units on campus, unfortunately, these questions have generated conflict among colleagues.

However you decide to resolve these questions, we hope that all faculty will conduct themselves as professionals and will treat all colleagues, regardless of rank, with the respect they deserve. We are, of course, trained to argue for what we believe. But we also have a common interest in maintaining the spirit of collegiality on which merit evaluations, tenure and promotion decisions, and shared governance depend. Debate is good; intimidation is not.

In this or any conflict-laden situation, faculty should feel at liberty to make their own decisions without fear of reprisal, within the parameters of morality, law, professional ethics, and the collective bargaining agreement. If you feel that you have been told to act against your conscience, please, as always, feel free to contact our office by telephone or by replying to this email. United Academics is here to help faculty with their concerns in the workplace.