United Academics Statement on Workload

In recent days a rumor has been making the rounds on campus that United Academics approves of the proposal that every unit in the College of Arts and Sciences should establish a nine-course workload, with an additional service requirement, for non-tenure-track faculty. One version of the rumor holds that United Academics has insisted on this policy as a requirement of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

This is not true. United Academics neither approves of nor requires any such thing. On the contrary, at an early stage of preparations for initial contract negotiations, union leaders reached a fundamental decision, that United Academics should not and would not dictate rigid, standard workload policies for all units, whether in CAS or in other colleges and programs within the university. For wholly legitimate reasons, the number of courses taught by non-tenure-track as well as tenure-track faculty varies greatly from one unit to another; within reasonable parameters, we agreed, workloads for all faculty should reflect the particular needs and requirements of each discipline. Rather, we insisted that each unit should develop clear and consistent workload policies that reflect those needs and requirements.

In the bargaining process, the administration agreed with our position that departments and units should establish standard workload policies internally. The administration and the union agreed that departments and units should retain control over many policies, including workload. We also agreed that faculty in each unit should develop these policies using input from their deans, in the form of general guidelines.

Over the past year, a team of union leaders has been working with the administration to help deans develop their guidelines. Through the course of that work, United Academics has reviewed draft policies that the CAS deans had developed and worked with them to identify areas of potential conflict with the Collective Bargaining Agreement. In the course of these transactions, United Academics emphasized that deans must ensure that workload policies be developed with faculty input, and that the deans’ guidelines are meant only as a starting point for the faculty discussions.

At no point in these discussions did United Academics dictate, let alone approve of, any proposal to impose a standard, college-wide, nine-course load for non-tenure-track faculty. In fact, we were clear with the administration that we thought that this was a new policy in CAS and that CAS was attempting unilaterally to increase the workload for non-tenure-track faculty without a corresponding increase in compensation.

Recently, department and unit heads 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. While it is true that college deans have the right to modify faculty-developed policies, they may only do this after the departments and units have developed policies internally. If they modify faculty-developed policies, deans are also obligated to meet with faculty to explain their decisions. When the input from deans is in conflict with local or discipline specific practices, we strongly encourage all faculty to substitute the deans’ draft language with whatever workload assignments make sense for your unit and discipline.

Renewal Success!

One of the most surprising, but positive developments, to come out of bargaining was the proposal from the university that all Career Non-Tenure-Track Faculty on non-funding-contingent contracts would be notified whether their contracts were to be renewed or not renewed by May 1st. When our team expressed surprise and maybe a little skepticism that this could be done, the university backed up their pledge by proposing that for every day past the May 1st deadline that an NTTF had not received a renewal notice, that NTTF would receive a “bonus” day’s worth of pay.

Yesterday, the university let us know that the first test of the new system was a complete success! 100% of departments and units reported notifying all of the Career NTTF on non-funding-contingent contracts of their status for next year. This is a dramatic change from previous years, when NTTF could until the weeks before class to find out if they still had a job at the UO, and a major step forward in professionalizing and regularizing the instructional and research workforce at the UO.

If you are a Career NTTF on a non-funding-contingent contract and you have not received a renewal or non-renewal notice, please notify us at info@uauoregon.org. The university implementation team asked us to let them know as soon as possible if there have been any glitches.

While this is very good news and a giant step in our efforts to transform the university, we realize that we still need to smooth out a couple of wrinkles. We realize that some NTTF received a notice of renewal, but not a new contract. The admin team assures us that the contracts are coming, but we will look to fix this loophole of sorts the next time we bargain.

Two LERC Trainings

Health Care Bargaining Conference
June 12, 2014 – June 13, 2014
White Stag Building – Portland, OR

Health Insurance: It’s a New World Out There!
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is coming to Oregon. This path-breaking law contains many provisions that will profoundly affect how unions bargain health care for their members.
This conference is designed to help union leaders and staff meet the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities presented by the ACA. Topics will include reporting requirements under the new law, the role of health care exchanges, the implications of ACA for existing union health care plans, and how to develop effective union bargaining strategies in an “ACA world.”

Organizing for Justice in the Inequality Economy: A Community Scholars Class for Union, Community, and Student Activists
UO Campus – Eugene, OR
Instructors: Raahi Reddy, LERC,
and Professor Dan Martinez HoSang, UO Dept. of Poli/Sci

Wealth and income disparities have skyrocketed and are now at their highest level in more than 80 years. U.S. workers, like many around the globe, are toiling longer hours for lower wages—facing rising debt and deepening insecurity.

But in every corner of the country, workers, students and communities are fighting back—organizing to abolish the inequality economy and replace it with a humane and sustainable future that leaves no one behind.

This day-long workshop will help you to understand some of the deeper structural foundations of the inequality economy—how it developed, who has benefited and why so many of us are losing out. Our class will examine the way companies like Wal-Mart and other low-wage employers exploit inequities in race, gender and national origin to expand their power. We will unpack the ways these trends are impacting public sector workers and the social safety net.

More information and registration at the LERC webpage or call 541-346-5054.

Academic Freedom at the UO

The Senate unanimously passed an Academic Freedom Policy last week. Now it needs to be signed by president Gottfredson within 60 days.

In order to make this happen, our brothers and sisters in SEIU are encouraging people to contact the president directly and encourage him to  sign it.

We [SEIU] are encouraging our campus community to write to President Gottfredson regarding how meaningful and important it is to sign this policy that was unanimously passed by our UO Senate, why this policy matters to you, and all others in to campus community.

Also, the presidents of three of the four unions at the UO, including our own Michael Dreiling, wrote an op-ed in the Register Guard encouraging President Gottfredson to sign the policy.