Past UW Faculty Forward Emails

March 2, 2016

WATCH the video from our race and equity forum!

On February 29, 2016 faculty gathered at a forum to discuss questions related to race, gender, and equity.

Guest speakers from the University of Oregon and California State University shared details on how their faculty unions have advanced racial and gender equity at their campuses. Faculty enjoyed hearing concrete things that faculty had won on other campuses and were excited to discuss how those gains were made

Faculty discussed establishing university committees to review gender gaps in faculty salaries, standardizing procedures for review and promotion of non-tenure track faculty, and increasing university support for childcare.  Significant conversation focused around cultural taxation and invisible work, leading to a discussion about gaining formal recognition for informal advising and mentoring that many faculty of color and women faculty take on.

If you missed the forum, click here to watch an excellent video of the event!



Speakers included:

Rachel Chapman, Associate Professor, Anthropology, UW Seattle

Tamara Cooper, Lecturer, Comparative Literature, UW Seattle, Cinema & Media, UW Seattle

Chris Cox, Lecturer, Sociology, San Jose State University, Co-Chair, African American Caucus of California Faculty Association

Amelia Gavin, Associate Professor, Social Worker, UW Seattle

Daniel HoSang, Associate Professor, Ethnic Studies and Political Studies, University of Oregon, Chair, Diversity and Equity Committee, United Academics of the University of Oregon

Ileana Rodriquez-Silva (moderator) Associate Professor, History, UW Seattle

 

February 22, 2016

43% Increase in U-PASS and Parking Costs?

Dear Colleagues,

Recently, we learned that UW’s Transportation management is proposing to raise the cost of the U-PASS and parking by as much as 43% this year. If this happens, the cost of the U-Pass could rise to $71.66/month, or $215/quarter, for UW faculty and staff, along with certain student populations.

How did it come to this? In deference to other UW priorities before the City, the administration recently conceded a transportation tax dispute to the City, including payment of $1 million in back taxes. Reserves in the transit program were spent down, and now Transportation management is seeking to charge employees and students higher costs.

Add your name to keep the U-PASS and parking affordable! 

Since its inception, there has been a steep decline in UW management’s financial support for the U-PASS program and campus parking. Today, administration only subsidizes 20% of the cost, including a 14% increase in the price of parking and the U-PASS just last year. The current proposal to raise transportation costs by up to 43% is unfair and hits the lowest paid the hardest. For part-time instructors, in particular, these increased fees will amount to a substantial pay cut to their already small paychecks.

Rather than passing costs onto faculty, staff and students, we respectfully urge and propose that:

  1. The UW absorb the cost of back taxes, instead of passing it on to employees and students.
  2. Management increase UW financial support for the U-PASS in order to lower user costs.
  3. The Medical Centers find parking solutions for those healthcare employees whose shifts and work requirements make public transit unworkable.
  4. Management work with campus organizations to gain tax relief for our transit program from the City.
  5. Management work with campus organizations to advocate for improved transit service to all UW workplaces.

Sign the petition today!

Sincerely,

Organizing Committee

 

February 15, 2016

Unionization and Equity 

 

How Can a Faculty Union Advance Racial and Gender Equity at UW?

Monday, February 29, 4 pm

Wǝɫǝbʔaltxw Intellectual House, UW Seattle

Please join us for a forum to discuss questions related to race, gender, and equity.

Chris Cox from San José State University and Daniel HoSang from the University of Oregon will share details on how their faculty unions have advanced racial and gender equity through collective bargaining, such as:

  • Formal recognition of informal (and often invisible) advising and mentoring that many faculty of color and women faculty take on.
  • Increased university support for childcare.
  • Standardized procedures for review and promotion of non-tenure track faculty.
  • Establishment of a university committee to review gender gaps in faculty salary.


Speakers Include:

Rachel Chapman
Associate Professor, Anthropology, UW Seattle

Tamara Cooper
Lecturer, Comparative Literature, Cinema & Media, UW Seattle

Chris Cox
Lecturer, Sociology, San José State University
Co-Chair, African American Caucus of
California Faculty Association

Amelia Gavin
Associate Professor, Social Work, UW Seattle

Daniel HoSang
Associate Professor, Ethnic Studies and
Political Science, University of Oregon
Chair, Diversity and Equity Committee, United
Academics of the University of Oregon

Ileana Rodríguez-Silva (moderator)
Associate Professor, History, UW Seattle

View the event flyer!



Also of note: 

 

Faculty Unions: Promises and Pitfalls
A Forum With Scholar 
Dr. Gary Rhoades
Professor, Educational Policy Studies & Practice and Director, Center for the Study of Higher Education, University of Arizona


Tuesday, February 23, 2016 
wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ - Intellectual House, UW Seattle • FREE 
Program 4:00pm  Reception 5:30pm
 
Note: Rescheduled from original date of December 4, 2015

Sponsored by the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies, University of Washington.

A campaign of University of Washington faculty members is calling for faculty unionization. Others are opposed. Regardless of their stand, UW faculty are facing tough questions about their role in the university today.

Please join Dr. Gary Rhoades, an expert on higher education, for an evening designed to inform and facilitate the discussion among faculty. Rhoades’ comments will be responded to by UW faculty both opposed to and favoring unionization.

Rhoades’ scholarship focuses on the restructuring of academic institutions and of professions in the academy, as well as on science and technology policy, and comparative higher education. He is the author of Managed Professionals (1998), and Academic Capitalism and the New Economy (2004). From 2009 to 2011 he served as General Secretary of the American Association of University Professors.

For more information, call the Bridges Center at (206) 543-7946, e-mail hbcls@u.washington.edu, or visit http://depts.washington.edu/hbcls.

 

February 8, 2016

UW Continues Anti-Union Spending

Through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, we are learning more about the UW’s spending to oppose a faculty union.  By the time of the FOIA request, the UW had spent tens of thousands of dollars on consultants, with contracts projected to continue into 2017.

Here are some highlights:

The UW hired Bellevue law firm Davis Wright Tremaine. During a 3-month period – July, August and September, 2015 – the UW paid Davis Wright $54,347.62.

Davis Wright has a long track record of “union avoidance.” The attorneys working on the UW anti-union campaign are:

  • Henry Farber, $500/hr
  • Peter Finch, $400/hr
  • John Hodges-Howell,$315/hr
  • Mimi Gentry,$275/hr

In turn, Davis Wright Tremaine hired communications consultant Hill & Knowlton Strategies, whom they were authorized to pay up to $30,000 per month through March, 2016. Hill & Knowlton is a global public relations company with a track record of representing powerful industries, such as:

  • The tobacco industry when smoking first became linked to cancer, and for many years thereafter.
  • The Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) when accused of money laundering.
  • “Citizens for a Free Kuwait,” created by the Kuwaiti government and U.S. firms to pressure the U.S. government into the first Gulf War.

Regarding the UW, Hill & Knowlton’s Statement of Work includes the following:

  • Create a communication environment designed to dissuade faculty from supporting the union bid to represent UW faculty.
  • Rebuild a sense of common purpose with adjunct faculty so that we can build on the parallel engagement program.
  • Condition the communication context so that when there is a favorable outcome, it is perceived to be a win for the university’s larger academic mission.

The UW administration professes to seek a genuine dialogue with faculty about unionization. Yet it has engaged consultants and public relations firms with ties to bad corporate actors.  This raises the question: Who is actually crafting the UW’s communications to faculty about the union and at what cost?

Click here to sign a membership card!

 

February 1, 2016

University of Minnesota Faculty file for union election

Hello fellow academics at the University of Washington,

I write to you as an active participant in the union drive at the University of Minnesota.

As you may have heard last week, tenure-line and contingent faculty members at the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus filed hundreds of authorization cards for a union election with SEIU Local 284, with strong support from every level of the faculty in every area of the institution. We believe that when given the chance, faculty members will vote to form a union with SEIU Local 284. When that happens, this will be one of the nation’s largest single-campus faculty unions, with over 2,500 instructional members.

Why are U of M faculty members taking this step now? As both tenure-line and contingent faculty members, we need a stronger voice in governance to shape direction and priorities, our working conditions, and the future of higher education. We also need to bring our voice to the State Capitol to advocate for greater support for our University’s teaching, research and outreach missions. We want to keep the University of Minnesota’s energy and resources focused on our core mission. By forming a union, we can work with the administration as an equal partner to help it resist the pressures that divert resources from our classrooms and labs.

For our movement to succeed it must not be isolated at U of M, but be part of a growing movement of faculty forming unions and building power. Faculty at both the University of Minnesota and the University of Washington are at the forefront of the efforts to reverse the corporatization of higher education. The erosion of research funding, community connections, teaching resources, and tenured lines are trends occurring at public research institutions across the country. We are far stronger together!   I encourage UW faculty to join us and to sign a membership card with UW Faculty Forward.

Together, we can build a strong national voice of faculty defending public higher education for future generations.

Click here to sign your membership card.

In solidarity,

Teri L. Caraway
Professor
Political Science
University of Minnesota

 

January 28, 2016

Seattle Times Op-ed: A faculty union would keep UW a top-tier research university

Dear Colleagues,

Today, the Seattle Times published an excellent op-ed written by UW faculty about forming a union.

"UW is becoming an institution with a small cohort of competitively-paid elites and an overwhelming majority of faculty struggling to reconcile escalating teaching and service loads with shrinking resources."

Click here to read the full article!

Click here to sign a membership card!

 

January 18, 2016

Have You Messaged Your Legislator?

 

The faculty regent bill is gaining momentum in Olympia. We now have a majority of House Higher Education Committee members co-sponsoring the bill -- Representatives Pollet, Tarleton, Reykdal, Stanford, McBride, Sells and Bergquist. In addition, we have the support of the Committee Chair, Drew Hansen. Have you messaged your legislator yet? 

House Bill 2546 was introduced in the State Legislature to create a faculty regent at the University of Washington.

Creating a faculty regent would give front-line educators and researchers a voice at the highest levels of University decision-making.

Our proposal is that the Faculty Senate Chair should continue attending Board meetings in an ex-officio capacity (without vote), but would switch to a full voting regent for the following year. This would allow for two faculty voices at the Board, and enough continuity for faculty representation to be effective. 

If you support this proposal, send a message to your state legislators supporting a UW faculty regent.

Background

UW Faculty Forward, the faculty union campaign, worked with Representative Gerry Pollet, D-46 LD, to introduce the faculty regent bill. Representative Pollet is Vice Chair of the House Higher Education Committee, and also a Clinical Instructor at the UW School of Public Health.

In a September, 2015 survey of over 600 UW faculty, 86% of respondents said they believed faculty should have a voting position on the Board.

An article in the journal AAUP Academe reports that voting faculty members serve as regents or trustees at 15% of private institutions and 13% percent of public institutions. 60% of those faculty regents were elected by fellow faculty. Another 14% of the private institutions and 10% of the public institutions had nonvoting faculty members on their Boards.

If you support an elected faculty regent at the UW, send a message to your state legislators!

UW faculty member Libi Sundermann is pictured below after discussing the bill with Representative Drew Hansen, 23rd LD and Chair of the House Higher Ed Committee.

                                   

P.S. If you haven’t done so yet, please join us in signing a UW Faculty Forward membership card.

January 14, 2016

It's Time For a Faculty Regent

Yesterday, House Bill 2546 was introduced in the State Legislature to create a faculty regent at the University of Washington.

Currently, the majority of UW Regents come from finance or industry. Students have a voting representative on the Board, but faculty do not. It’s time for a change. Creating a faculty regent would give us a voice at the highest levels of University decision-making and help diversify the Board.

Our proposal is that the Faculty Senate Chair should continue attending Board meetings in an ex-officio capacity (without vote), but would switch to a full voting regent for the following year. This would allow for two faculty voices at the Board, and enough continuity for faculty representation to be effective. 

If you support this proposal, send a message to your state legislators supporting a UW faculty regent.

Background

UW Faculty Forward, the faculty union campaign, worked with Representative Gerry Pollet, D-46 LD, to introduce the faculty regent bill. Representative Pollet is Vice Chair of the House Higher Education Committee, and also a Clinical Instructor at the UW School of Public Health.

In a September, 2015 survey of over 600 UW faculty, 86% of respondents said they believed faculty should have a voting position on the Board.

An article in the journal AAUP Academe reports that voting faculty members serve as regents or trustees at 15% of private institutions and 13% percent of public institutions. 60% of those faculty regents were elected by fellow faculty. Another 14% of the private institutions and 10% of the public institutions had nonvoting faculty members on their Boards.

If you support an elected faculty regent at the UW, send a message to your state legislators!

UW faculty member Libi Sundermann is pictured below after discussing the bill with Representative Drew Hansen, 23rd LD and Chair of the House Higher Ed Committee.

                                   

P.S. If you haven’t done so yet, please join us in signing a UW Faculty Forward membership card.

January 11, 2016

Back to School - Back to Building Our Union

Dear New or Returning UW Faculty,

In Spring, 2015 UW faculty joined forces with SEIU, one of the largest education unions in the country, to launch UW Faculty Forward (link to website), a union campaign for faculty at the University of Washington. SEIU contributes staff time and expertise to a faculty-governed process.

Why are faculty organizing?

  • From 2007 – 2013, state funding for higher education dropped by 25.5%.
  • 70% of UW faculty are now without tenure. They are part-time, temporary or must raise their own salaries through research grants, which are increasingly difficult to obtain.
  • Many UW departments are challenged to recruit and retain top-tier faculty due to uncompetitive salaries compared to peer research universities. The average across-the-board UW faculty salary would need to increase almost 12% to reach parity with peer institutions.  The average full UW professor salary would need to increase 16%.
  • The UW faces growing corporate influence, with eight of ten members of the UW Board of Regents coming from industry and finance.
  • These trends, combined with skyrocketing student tuition and loan debt, are undermining the broad-based conditions for continued academic excellence by UW students and faculty.

What would a UW faculty union do?

  • Give UW faculty an organized voice to win greater higher education and research funding in Olympia and Washington DC (similar to K-12 teachers unions fighting for more school funding).
  • Allow faculty to negotiate a binding and enforceable agreement with UW administration over everything from competitive salaries to campus parking, family leave and tenure and promotion policies.
  • Create greater transparency over budgetary matters, research grant set-asides, etc.
  • Resist the “adjunctification” of UW faculty and improve pay and conditions for lecturers.
  • And more …

Since the start of our campaign, we have discovered strong interest in faculty unionization:

  • Hundreds of faculty, from all three campuses, dozens of departments and all ranks, have signed a public, pro-union letter, and many more have signed union cards indicating support for the union. We urge you to do the same! 
  • Over 3,500 faculty, students, parents and alumni signed a petition raising concerns over the corporatization of the UW, leading to a November meeting with Governor Jay Inslee over his future appointments to the UW Board of Regents.

Unfortunately, the UW administration and a group of well-connected faculty have decided to oppose our unionization effort.  They ignore the growing crisis in higher education and instead stoke fears that a union could undermine faculty governance, require expensive dues, lead to potential strikes and damage the UW’s reputation for academic excellence. We strongly reject these fears and have addressed them in detail on our campaign website.

This quarter you may be approached by a colleague or an SEIU organizer. We invite you to join our movement to reclaim the integrity of our profession, and work towards restoring the government’s commitment to funding public higher education and research.

Sincerely,

Eva Cherniavsky, Professor, English

December 15, 2015

How would unionization affect shared governance?

Dear Colleagues,

The current, vibrant conversation on the possibility of faculty unionization has opened questions about how a faculty union would affect established structures of faculty governance.  Some faculty have raised concerns that a union would supersede and replace a valuable tradition of faculty governance, while others have suggested that our attention is better put to strengthening faculty governance, thereby obviating the need for unionization.  We support unionization precisely because we believe a faculty union is the best means to preserve and strengthen effective faculty governance. We want to share with you our perspective on why unionization and faculty governance are, in fact, convergent and complementary aims.

Faculty governance is founded in principles of democratic decision-making within institutions of higher learning.  It is embodied in structures of elected faculty representation, most notably the Faculty Senate, and more broadly in the idea that decisions about curricula, policy, and personnel are steered by faculty committees at the level of departments and of schools and colleges. However, the assault on the public university is also an assault on the practice of faculty governance.  The corporatizing of the university -- by which we mean, the precipitous decline in state funding, the increasing reliance on and cultivation of private donors, the competition for affluent students who can afford skyrocketing tuition, the exponential growth in the administrative ranks of the university, that is, the managers who oversee the branding and marketing of the institution -- has serious implications for faculty governance.  Simply put, the public university has become a business and businesses are not run democratically. To be sure, we retain the tradition of faculty governance and the forms:  indeed, we are more than ever burdened with service obligations. Faculty serve on proliferating committees and task forces; we assess needs, outcomes, and best practices; we draft strategic plans, develop initiatives, and leverage strengths.  But the crucial budgetary decisions that determine what needs are prioritized, which initiatives funded, where the resources will be committed and where they are withdrawn are not ours to make.   The allocation of funds is determined by the upper administration, on the basis of priorities and calculations that are unevenly made public and debated.  The Faculty Senate can set policy –but where the implementation of these policies entails the commitment of resources, it is the administration that determines whether that policy will take effect. 

We believe that unionization is not an alternative to shared governance, but a way to preserve it:  when unionized faculty negotiate with administrators, the agreement becomes legally binding.  Unionization means that tenured and tenure-line faculty who have traditionally been central to faculty governance are transformed from advocates (whose recommendations can be as readily rejected as endorsed) to partners (whose concerns must be given their due weight).  It means that faculty who never had an official say before—non tenure-line and especially non-voting part-time faculty — are represented. 

Moreover, unionization promotes transparency and accountability.  Through unionization, faculty gain direct access to budgetary and other information that affect our working lives. This allows faculty to hold administrators accountable, something difficult to do when we have only portions of the budgetary picture in view.  To cite just one example, Rutgers’ new (2015) union contract states that “the university can renege on contractually promised raises only after providing the union with a detailed, documented explanation of why a fiscal emergency exists and then entering negotiations with the union over emergency measures” (http://chronicle.com.offcampus.lib.washington.edu/blogs/ticker/new-faculty-contract-restricts-rutgerss-power-to-freeze-pay/95491).  

Equally important, such transparency creates important opportunities for faculty and administrators to make common cause. The University of Oregon’s administration opposed unionization, yet once the union was chartered, working relations between faculty and administrators improved. As one administrator, Scott Pratt, reports, “Administrative and labor personnel went to a labor conference in Washington, D.C. last spring, and their panel surprised audience members in their joint positive evaluation of the changes faculty unionization has wrought.” 

Faculty governance is an irreducible dimension of the public university.  A faculty union does not replace a faculty senate, but can help ensure that the senate’s resolutions are binding on the administration, and more broadly, that faculty retain a meaningful say in determining the future of the institution. 

If you agree, it’s vital that you sign your membership card today! 


Best Regards, 

Davinder Bhowmik, Associate Professor, Asian Languages and Literature; Current Member, UW Faculty Senate

Steven Buck, Professor, Psychology; Former Executive Committee Member, UW Faculty Senate

Leah Ceccarelli, Professor, Communication; Former Executive Committee Member, UW Faculty Senate

Rachel Chapman, Associate Professor, Anthropology; Current Chair, Faculty Council on Multicultural Affairs

Eva Cherniavsky, Professor, English

Linda Dawson, Senior Lecturer, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences; Current Chair, UW Tacoma Lecturer Affairs Committee

Purnima Dhavan, Associate Professor, History; Former Member, UW Faculty Senate

Michael Forman, Associate Professor, Politics, Philosophy and Economics, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences; Former Chair, UW Tacoma Faculty Assembly

Christoph Giebel, Associate Professor, History & Jackson School of International Studies; Former Executive Committee Member, UW Faculty Senate

Aaron Katz, Principal Lecturer, Health Services, Global Health, and Law; Current Member, UW Faculty Senate

Bruce Kochis, Senior Lecturer, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences; Former Chair, UW Bothell General Faculty Organization

Nita McKinley, Associate Professor, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences; Former Chair, UW Tacoma Faculty Assembly

Diane Morrison, Professor, School of Social Work; Former Executive Committee Member, UW Faculty Senate

Julie Nicoletta, Professor, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences; Former Vice Chair, UW Tacoma Faculty Assembly

J. Mark Pendras, Associate Professor, Urban Studies; Current Vice Chair, UW Tacoma Faculty Assembly

Chandan Reddy, Associate Professor, English; Current Member, UW Faculty Senate

Johann Reusch, Associate Professor, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences; Former Chair, UW Tacoma Faculty Assembly

Ileana Rodriguez-Silva, Associate Professor, History; Former Member, UW Faculty Senate

Leroy Searle, Professor, English and Comparative Literature; Former Member, UW Faculty Senate Executive Committee

Stephanie Smallwood, Associate Professor, History; Former Member, UW Faculty Senate

Elizabeth “Libi” Sundermann, Full-Time Lecturer, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences; Former Chair, UW Tacoma Lecturer Affairs Committee

Gail Stygall, Professor, English; Former Chair, UW Faculty Senate

Adam Warren, Associate Professor, History; Former Member, UW Faculty Senate

Charles Williams, Division Chair and Associate Professor, Politics, Philosophy and Public Affairs, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, Former Executive Committee Member, UW Tacoma Faculty Assembly

Robert Wood, Professor, Atmospheric Sciences; Former Executive Committee Member, UW Faculty Senate

John Zahorjan Professor, Computer Science and Engineering; Former Executive Committee Member, UW Faculty Senate

December 9, 2015

Watch The Video: Our meeting with the Governor

On November 16th, Governor Inslee met with representatives of UW faculty, staff and students for a discussion about his upcoming appointments to the UW Board of Regents. Watch what faculty, staff and students had to say about the meeting, and their hopes for the University of Washington.


P.S. If you haven’t done so yet, please join us in signing a UW Faculty Forward membership card.

December 7, 2015

Unionization and Excellence

Dear Colleagues,

We are writing to share with you some thoughts and information on the relation between unionization and faculty excellence.

One commonly cited concern with the prospect of faculty unionization at UW is the impact on faculty excellence.  We strongly believe that unionization works to promote excellence, by building the conditions for recruiting, retaining, and supporting top-tier research and teaching faculty.

Where are we now?

Despite extraordinary accomplishments by individual faculty, it’s important to recognize that the conditions for continued academic excellence at UW are quickly eroding:

  • From 2007-13, state higher education funding dropped by 25.5%. Recent improvements in state funding offer some relief, but don’t compensate for years of sustained losses.
  • Over a 10-year period ending in 2012-2013, tenure-line appointments dropped from 43% to 30%. A third of non-tenure track appointments are part-time.
  • As of 2013, the average salary of UW professors (all ranks combined) was lower than all but one of the top ten public research universities with medical schools. The average across the board UW salary would need to increase almost 12% to reach parity with peer institutions.
  • NIH grants to UW decreased in seven of the last ten years. They decreased 14% from 2010-11, and 6% from 2013-14.

These facts have many implications, but two in particular stand out:  Funding of the university derives more and more from unsustainably high rates of student tuition and from private donors, whose donations are (unsurprisingly) earmarked for narrowly defined research or teaching ventures of particular interest to the donor. Although the university can and does succeed at recruiting and retaining stellar individual faculty, for the faculty as a whole, remuneration at UW is not competitive. Moreover, the decrease in federal (NIH) support for work in the sciences further reduces the means to support across-the-board faculty excellence at all ranks and in all fields. This puts us on track to become an institution with a very small cohort of competitively-paid elites and an overwhelming majority of faculty whose salaries, positions, and working conditions (teaching loads, student supervision responsibilities, and so forth) are not on par with those of comparable, Research 1 institutions. Relatedly, it is vital to note that vacated tenure-line positions are not being replaced with tenure-line hires.   The drop in tenure-line appointments is a further indication that we are moving towards a two-tier system, in which only a small handful of faculty will work under optimum conditions for first-class teaching and research.

Why Unionize?

We believe that unionization represents our best prospect for stemming and reversing the loss of public funding,  enabling broad student access, joining national efforts to restore federal research funding, and maintaining UW as an institution that attracts and retains excellent faculty across its many and diverse ranks and categoriesThe reason is that unionized faculty have more power: more lobbying power in state capitals and more power over key matters of budget allocations within their institutions.

We believe that the fight for adequate resources is not and cannot become a zero sum game, in which diverse groups of faculty are pitted in competition for ever-smaller wedges of a shrinking pie.  Sustaining excellence requires that we expand our resources, rather than exhaust our efforts in the re-division of our insufficient means.  While the diversity of our ranks, disciplines, and professional cultures clearly present a challenge, recognizing our shared concerns and uniting in a single faculty union offers us a huge opportunity to build an institution in which all of us can feel that we have a future.  Like other diverse groups covered by union contracts, each sub-group (of faculty, in our case) can be represented on an elected bargaining team and advocate for specific contract language to address our interests. At the same time, through a unified faculty union, we can also collaborate, coordinate and make effective demands for funding excellence across our campuses, units, and ranks.

Faculty unions elsewhere have successfully advocated for significantly higher faculty salaries. Moreover, it is a myth that faculty unions prevent departments from making retention offers (the union contract at Rutgers, for example, allows for discretion in giving out-of-cycle salary increases), and a unionized UW faculty would collectively decide whether and how to negotiate for the preservation or alteration of current retention and adjustment policies. Equally important, however, the aim of unionization is competitive salaries that would eliminate an all-too-familiar scenario, in which seeking a retention offer becomes the only means to secure parity with one’s peers in the department or the profession. [Please click here to see a Comparison of Union vs. Non-Union Washington Public Higher Education Faculty Salary Increases]

The bottom line is that there is no “excellence” without funding for excellent faculty and resources for excellent research and curriculum. Unionization is about saying “No” to the culture of austerity that reigns in most areas of the university and wielding our collective power as a faculty to fight for excellent public education. 

Joining this effort means signing your union card today!

Best Regards,

UW Faculty Forward Organizing Committee

Eva Cherniavsky, Professor of English, UW Seattle

Yonn Dierwechter, Professor, Urban Studies, UW Tacoma

Joanne Clarke Dillman, Full-Time Lecturer, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, UW Tacoma

Víctor Fernández-Mallat, Full-Time Lecturer, Spanish and Portuguese Studies, UW Seattle

Michael Forman, Associate Professor, Politics, Philosophy and Economics, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, UW Tacoma

Christoph Giebel, Associate Professor, History & Jackson School of International Studies, UW Seattle

David Goldstein, Senior Lecturer, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, UW Bothell

Amy Hagopian, Associate Professor, Health Services and Global Health, UW Seattle

Sarah Hampson, Assistant Professor, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, UW Tacoma

Michael Honey, Professor, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, UW Tacoma

Moon-Ho Jung, Associate Professor, History, UW Seattle

Aaron Katz, Principal Lecturer, Health Services, Global Health, and Law, UW Seattle

Bruce Kochis, Senior Lecturer, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, UW Bothell

James Liner, Full-Time Lecturer, Culture, Arts and Communication, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, UW Tacoma

Sudhir Mahadevan, Associate Professor, Comparative Literature, Cinema and Media, UW Seattle

Carrie Matthews, Lecturer, English and IWP, UW Seattle

Diane Morrison, Professor, School of Social Work, UW Seattle

Gina Neff, Associate Professor, Communication, UW Seattle

Elizabeth “Libi” Sundermann, Full-Time Lecturer, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, UW Tacoma

Charles Williams, Division Chair and Associate Professor, Politics, Philosophy and Public Affairs, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, UW Tacoma

Robert Wood, Professor, Atmospheric Sciences, UW Seattle

 

 

November 30, 2015

Salary Comparison Study

Dear Colleagues,

Many UW departments face challenges in recruiting and retaining top-tier faculty due to uncompetitive salaries compared to peer research universities.

There is also a long-standing problem with salary compression, with salaries for long-serving faculty growing barely fast enough to keep ahead of junior faculty.

UW Faculty Forward has conducted a comprehensive review of salary systems at several four-year institutions in Washington State, including those with faculty unions. The results are striking:

Executive Summary

  • Unionized faculty at Washington’s four-year, regional universities have consistently won better base-rate and merit raises than UW’s non-union faculty.
  • Promotion raises for unionized tenure and non-tenure faculty are generally better than at UW.
  • Unionized faculty have negotiated salary compression payments to compensate for losses from the Great Recession.  UW has no official compression adjustment system.
  • Unlike the UW Faculty Code, union-negotiated raises cannot be overruled by the administration.

I urge you to review the salary study. It should lay to rest any question of whether unionization makes a difference in faculty salaries, both in base rates, merit increases that reward academic achievement, and compression adjustments.

Recruiting and retaining the best and brightest faculty at the UW is crucial for sustaining and expanding conditions for faculty and student excellence.  Collective bargaining over salaries, providing greater protection from shifting administrative budget priorities or state budget woes, is an important part of protecting that mission.

Warm Regards,

Gina Neff
Associate Professor
Department of Communication

 

 

November 19, 2015

Survey Highlights Research Concerns

Dear Colleagues,

In October and November of 2015, the University of Washington AAUP chapter and the UW Faculty Forward union campaign conducted a survey on research funding at UW. 550 UW faculty members responded to a variety of questions on how much research they do, the amount of time they put into grant seeking, how they feel about the university’s grant administration process, what cuts in funding mean to them and their research programs, and other subjects. We will be releasing the full results in a report later, until then please click here to see a preliminary analysis of the results.

Some highlights from the analysis include:

  • A significant number of faculty (43%) who obtain research grants said they were concerned the university was appropriating at least some of their time that was supposed to be devoted to research (and paid for by grants) to subsidize teaching, administration or other UW business that should be covered by state dollars.
  • 13% of respondents spend between 26-50% of their time writing grants or seeking funding
  • More than one in three (35%) of faculty supported on grants have had periods when they were employed at less than full time because grant funding was unavailable. Further, more than half (57%) of all part-time faculty would prefer to be working full time.
  • Half (50%) of tenure-track faculty said the last three years have required the most time in their careers to securing funding for their research,46 respondents noted that 2015 was the hardest year ever.
  • Two-thirds (66%) of respondents said the amount of time they spent securing funding or their dependency on certain funding streams limits their research’s meaningfulness to society.
  • Two in three (68%) respondents said they thought there was insufficient transparency in how overhead charges are used at UW.
  • Only 5% of respondents said the UW properly advocates for increased funding for research from state, federal or other sources. Nearly half (43%) said the UW definitely does not do enough advocacy for research funding at the state or federal level.
  • More than half of respondents said they saw a role for a unified UW faculty voice in advocating for increased state and national funding for academic research.

Some notable quotes:

  • In describing where one’s salary comes from one respondent commented that only 5% is provided by my department to cover all my 'nonsponsored activities’. These include 1) all my grant writing, 2) service on UW/Departmental committees (e.g., senate, admissions, faculty council, etc. etc.) and 3) serving on PhD dissertation and MS thesis committees.”  
  • Another on the same topic wrote: I am in the summer 3 months without income.  In the past, I have tried to get summer funding via grants or teaching. It is however increasingly difficult to do so.  Were it not for my family supporting me, it would be very hard to make it through the summer.”
  • Clarifying the breakdown of his/her salary a respondent commented: In reality, I am required to provide clinical patient care for 50% of my effort and this brings to the institution at least 50% of my salary, although I bring in 75% of my salary on NIH grants.”
  • When asked to explain what features of their job are not meaningful, many respondents expressed frustration over the difficulty to secure grant funding with comments such as “Writing grants with a 10% chance of being funded (i.e., all nih grants).” And "Writing grant after grant after grant that is not funded.”
  • Referring to the transparency in how overhead charges are used at UW one respondent wrote this is a VERY important issue. Every time the university hires a new vice-provost or pays for a stadium I think, `That's my research money.’ Meanwhile I don't have enough administrative support and junior faculty are leaving.”
  • Commenting on whether University of Washington faculty should have a unified voice in advocating for increased state and national funding for academic research one respondent wrote: “Lobbying for increased state and federal research funding is key, as is advocating for use of grant funds to support research over administration.”

The concerns of faculty who are labeled “without tenure” (WOT) and research faculty at UW are clearly complex. As faculty work towards forming a union and having a larger voice at UW, this survey offers us a first glance at understanding the diverse issues WOT and research faculty face. We intend to keep a dialogue on these issues growing, and to pursue efforts to advocate for more federal grant funding and better transparency of UW overhead costs.

To get involved with UW Faculty Forward please visit our campaign website and join the movement by signing a membership card.


Sincerely,

Amy Hagopian, Associate Professor, Health Services and Global Health

Aaron Katz, Principal Lecturer, Health Services, Global Health, and Law

Ann Mescher, Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering

Diane Morrison, Professor, School of Social Work

Bert Stover, Research Scientist, Family Medicine Research Section & Clinical Assistant Professor, Health Services

Robert Wood, Professor, Atmospheric Sciences

 

 

November 16, 2015

A United Faculty Voice Leads to Dialogue with Governor Inslee

Dear Colleagues,

Yesterday, Governor Inslee met with representatives of UW faculty, staff and students about his upcoming appointments to the UW Board of Regents. The gathering included representatives from UW Faculty Forward, Faculty Senate, ASUW, GPSS, student organizations and campus unions.

In the meeting, Governor Inslee engaged in a frank and open discussion about underfunding and rising corporatization of higher education, increased reliance on part-time, temporary and without-tenure (WOT) faculty, and the urgent need for an education-minded, uncompromised UW Board of Regents.

Governor Inslee also talked frankly about the UW’s (“elitist”) image problem in Olympia, and how it prevents legislators from addressing urgent funding needs at the University. Rather than relying on a single individual or paid lobbyists, Inslee urged broad engagement by faculty, students and staff to make the case for UW.

Specific topics of discussion included:

  • Strategies for increased state funding for public higher education.
  • Ensuring that UW Regents are fully committed to raising new education revenue, and are uncompromised by links to large corporations which lobby for corporate tax loopholes.
  • Including a faculty member on the Board of Regents.
  • Ensuring economic, cultural and social diversity among UW Regents.
  • Urging the UW administration to remain neutral on faculty unionization, instead of creating an environment where anti-union speech feels safer than pro-union speech.

The meeting with Governor Inslee was the product of a more united faculty voice in partnership with a politically powerful union – SEIU. Yesterday’s meeting was just the beginning of a process to give UW faculty a stronger voice in state politics and higher education priorities.

We invite you to join our movement by visiting our website and signing a union card.

Best Regards,

David Goldstein
Senior Lecturer
Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences
UW Bothell

Jim Liner
FT Lecturer
Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences
UW Tacoma

Diane Morrison
Professor
School of Social Work
UW Seattle

Rob Wood
Professor
Atmospheric Sciences
UW Seattle

 

 

November 6, 2015

Questions for Gov. Inslee About UW Regents?

Dear Colleagues,

Invited by SEIU Local 925 and UW Faculty Forward, Governor Jay Inslee will meet with representatives of UW faculty, staff and students about his upcoming appointments to the UW Board of Regents. The meeting, to be held in mid-November, will focus on threats to public higher education and growing concerns about the close links between the UW Board of Regents and corporate interests. Eight of the 10 current UW Regents are leaders of finance and industry.

A September op-ed published by UW faculty in the Tacoma News Tribune echoed similar concerns.

Do you have a question or comment for Governor Inslee about his appointments to the UW Board of Regents? Submit it here. Questions and comments will be forwarded to the governor in advance and raised during the meeting.

In June, 2015 Governor Inslee received a petition from over 3,500 students, faculty, staff, parents, alumni and community members urging him to meet with stakeholders prior to making future regent appointments. By accepting the invitation from SEIU 925 and UW Faculty Forward, Governor Inslee has agreed to do so.

Click here to submit a question or comment to Governor Inslee about his appointments to the UW Board of Regents.

Best Regards,

Joanne Clarke Dillman
FT Lecturer
Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences
UW Tacoma

David Goldstein
Senior Lecturer
Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences
UW Bothell

Diane Morrison
Professor
School Social Work
UW Seattle

Rob Wood
Professor
Atmospheric Sciences
UW Seattle

 

October 26th, 2015

UW Research Funding Survey - Please share your experience

Dear Colleague,

Scarcity of funding and increased pressure on faculty and researchers at the University of Washington have often forced us to make difficult decisions, such as prioritizing, changing or even abandoning aspects of our research or working longer hours and making sacrifices that impact our work-life balance. This often is detrimental to professional standing, our expectations, our University, and to the search for knowledge that could benefit society.  That is why we are asking you to fill out this survey to gain insight into how these critical issues impact our work.  

We are inviting participation from a diverse group that includes PI's, research faculty, and tenured faculty.  We know that not every question will apply to everyone across the whole institution, but we believe these questions will, in the aggregate, generate a productive and informed conversation about opportunities to improve the quantity, quality, and experience of research at the University. 

Because we are conducting this survey as part of the UW Faculty Forward organizing campaign, we have the opportunity, collectively, to coordinate across departmental and disciplinary silos and reach a broad audience of researchers across campus, including you.  We are excited to learn from you and the rest of our colleagues, and we hope you will take a few moments to share your wisdom.  We want your experience to help inform the vibrant debate our University deserves about the future of research and scholarship.

Please follow this link and share your thoughts on the current state of research funding and how it is affecting you and the University.  This survey should only take 5 to 10 minutes to complete.  All information you provide will be treated as confidential. Your responses will be combined with those of other respondents and reported anonymously and in the aggregate.  We are looking forward to learning from you and sharing the results come mid-November. 

Best, 

Amy Hagopian, Associate Professor, Health Services and Global Health

Aaron Katz, Principal Lecturer, Health Services, Global Health, and Law

Ann Mescher, Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering

Diane Morrison, Professor, School of Social Work

Bert Stover, Research Scientist, Family Medicine Research Section & Clinical Assistant Professor, Health Services

Robert Wood, Professor, Atmospheric Sciences

 

October 23, 2015

Who Is Running UW's Anti-Union Campaign

Dear Colleagues,

As predicted, the UW administration is increasing the volume of their anti-union campaign, most recently with its new website. This is not, as the email we received yesterday suggests, some sort of neutral “information-sharing platform.” This is an anti-union website drafted by paid consultants.

Based on a public records request we now know that the UW administration has hired and paid an anti-union consultant a few thousand dollars so far.

Highlights:

  • The anti-union consultant, Summit Law Group, began working in May, 2015.
  • One attorney is paid $273/hour and another is paid $230/hour.
  • In August, 2015 the University sent four administrators (Mindy Kornberg, VP for HR; Cheryl Cameron, Vice Provost for Academic Personnel; Shelley Kostrinsky, Assistant Vice Provost for Academic Personnel; and, Larry Paulsen, Assistant Attorney General) to Eugene, Oregon, presumably to consult with the University of Oregon about their experience with faculty organizing there. (U of O faculty won their union election in 2012 and ratified their first faculty union contract in 2013.)

Much of the website’s content mimics anti-union websites from other university administrations such as those at Duke University and Seattle University.

With this “information-sharing platform,” the administration is wielding its inherent power over faculty members, many with varying degrees of job security or precariousness, creating an environment where anti-union speech feels safer than pro-union speech.

Rather than wasting scarce education dollars on cookie-cutter anti-union rhetoric, we urge the administration to welcome a united and engaged faculty, and make common cause against chronic underfunding and the rising corporatization of higher education.


In Solidarity,

Amy Hagopian, Associate Professor, Health Services and Global Health

Sudhir Mahadevan, Associate Professor, Comparative Literature, Cinema and Media

Carrie Matthews, Full-Time Lecturer, English


P.S. If you haven’t done so yet, please join us in signing a UW Faculty Forward membership card.

October 19, 2015

Congratulations President Cauce

Dear President Cauce and UW Faculty,

Congratulations on your new appointment, President Cauce! It is wonderful to learn that the UW will have a leader actually of the UW, someone with decades of knowledge about our institution and a commitment to making it a more accessible and more inclusive space for students, staff, faculty, and administrators.

We look forward to working with you and your administration to make the UW in this century a truly public institution, one that advocates for education as a human right and that empowers every member of the UW community to realize their potential, regardless of rank, race and ethnicity, religion, field of endeavor, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic class.

Thank you for your continued commitment to this university. We invite all faculty to share with President Cauce our hopes and dreams for the UW going forward http://925.seiu.org/page/speakout/uff_president_cauce_congrats

Very best wishes for your presidency and for the UW, and again, congratulations!


UW Faculty Forward Organizing Committee Members

Purnima Dhavan, Associate Professor, History, UW Seattle 

Joanne Clarke Dillman, Full-Time Lecturer, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, UW Tacoma  

Víctor Fernández-Mallat, Lecturer, Spanish and Portuguese Studies, UW Seattle  

Christoph Giebel, Associate Professor, History & Jackson School of International Studies, UW Seattle 

Amy Hagopian, Associate Professor, Health Services and Global Health, UW Seattle  

Sarah Hampson, Assistant Professor, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, UW Tacoma  

Michael Honey, Professor, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, UW Tacoma  

Moon-Ho Jung, Associate Professor, History, UW Seattle  

Aaron Katz, Principal Lecturer, Health Services, Global Health, and Law, UW Seattle  

James Liner, Full-Time Lecturer, Culture, Arts and Communication, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, UW Tacoma  

Sudhir Mahadevan, Associate Professor, Comparative Literature, Cinema, and Media, UW Seattle 

Carrie Matthews, Full-time Lecturer, English, UW Seattle  

Diane Morrison, Professor, School of Social Work, UW Seattle  

Gina Neff, Associate Professor, Communication, UW Seattle  

Elizabeth “Libi” Sundermann, Full-Time Lecturer, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, UW Tacoma  

Charles Williams, Division Chair and Associate Professor, Politics, Philosophy and Public Affairs, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, UW Tacoma  

Robert Wood, Professor, Atmospheric Sciences, UW Seattle

 

 

October 9, 2015

The anti-union playbook

Dear Colleagues,

I'm writing to you as one among many other colleagues working to build a faculty union at the UW. I support this campaign because shared governance is most meaningful and effective when faculty have an equitable and consequential voice in the governance of this institution, guaranteed by a contract that is legally-binding and enforceable. A robust ethos of shared governance in practice should not be contingent solely on the goodwill of an administration or established traditions, however enlightened.

My views are shaped by my experience. As a graduate student at New York University, I was active in the historic and successful campaign to unionize teaching and research assistants there, the first of its kind in a private university. Inspired by that campaign, the adjunct faculty at NYU (nearly 3,000 in number) and The New School also established unions, and our peers and friends, the graduate students at Columbia University, also launched a union drive.

In all those instances, the university administrations led a sustained anti-union effort.

As we begin a new academic year, we have already received two emails from the UW administration urging us not to unionize. I'm writing mainly to reflect on what more to expect along these lines, based on my experience.

The first UW administration email made clear that we should be prepared to be asked to participate in one-on-one conversations on the issue, that we should expect more communication (emails, letters, memos) on the issue, and that a website will be set up to address unionization and its ramifications. I would add that my past experience in graduate school included "town-hall" style meetings set up to make the administration's case, and in some departments, "captive audience" meetings called by the chair to discuss the issue.

Beyond the tactics lies the messaging itself. I find striking echoes of what I encountered from the NYU administration in the recent emails from the UW administration and its claims that:

  • "Management-employee" relations are antithetical to shared governance.
  • Academic excellence is at risk because the union could interfere in academic matters (nothing short of the freedom to pursue research and scholarly inquiry). 
  • A union may erode the Faculty Senate's authority and voice, an echo of the divisive claim my professors encountered in graduate school.
  • Contracts and union dues would be imposed autocratically on everyone without choice. 
  • This drive to unionize is not a faculty governed effort and initiative; and that the hundreds of us who have expressed support for a faculty union are doing so at SEIU's bidding.
  • Finally, innuendos and rumors regarding unionization and its fallout are presented. If we were to unionize, salary raises might result in people being laid off, and if people are laid off, our course loads might rise.

I would urge my colleagues to critically examine these claims (for we will hear them time and again in coming months) on all of the above issues and more. Please visit our FAQ page for more information. Please also see Michael Dreiling's account of the experience of establishing a union at the University of Oregon, the concerns that were expressed there, and the reality of the contract that ensued. Their experience mirrors what we seem to be encountering here and certainly reminds me of what I encountered at NYU.

All this said, at a time of increasing threats to the mission of higher education as a public good and declining state support, I remain convinced that a faculty union will serve as a powerful voice not just for us the faculty but for the university community at large. Within the university, the concerns that motivate us to form a union are many, ranging from salary and benefits and working conditions to the allocation of resources. Underlying our support for a union is the belief that collective bargaining around these issues will lead to concrete changes protected by a legally-binding (for us as well as the administration) and enforceable contract. Short of this, we are putting our faith in a "good faith" governance model, one in which our input can be sought but can be as easily overruled.

If you believe as I and so many of our colleagues do, that we must establish a more consequential voice for faculty, please join us in supporting this campaign. By signing a card, you would be indicating your support for a faculty union and get us closer to an election on union representation.

Sincerely,

Sudhir Mahadevan
Associate Professor
Comparative Literature, Cinema & Media

P.S. Do you support forming a union? Click here to fill out a membership card today!

 

October 2, 2015

Our Faculty Union and the New Academic Year

"There may have been a time when faculty unions at public universities were less important, but given the massive withdrawal of public financing for higher education in recent years, the steep increases in tuition, increasing reliance on low-paid adjunct professors, skyrocketing administrative costs and salaries, and growing inequality in the nation as a whole, that era is long past.  It is time to put our shoulders to the task of building a faculty union here at the UW."

May 2015, Former holders of the Harry Bridges Chair in Labor Studies:

  • Charles Bergquist, History, UW Seattle
  • Mike Honey, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, UW Tacoma
  • Jim Gregory, History, UW Seattle
  • Dan Jacoby, Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, UW Bothell
  • Margaret Levi, Political Science, UW Seattle (Emerita)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear New or Returning UW Faculty,

Faculty at the University of Washington are on the front lines of sweeping change in higher education. Increasingly, many of us understand we must act to preserve the integrity of our profession and the mission of our institution.

In Spring 2015 UW faculty, including our AAUP chapter, joined forces with SEIU, one of the largest education unions in the country, to help us launch UW Faculty Forward, a union campaign for faculty at the University of Washington. SEIU contributes staff time and expertise to a faculty-governed process.

Since the start of our campaign, we have discovered strong interest in faculty unionization, born both from deep feelings of loyalty to the UW and a growing sense of frustration and concern about the future of our University.

Since April alone:

  • More faculty are signing union cards every week, indicating support for the union.
  • Nearly 200 faculty, from all three campuses and dozens of departments, have signed a public, pro-union letter.
  • More than 3,500 faculty, students, parents and alumni signed a petition raising concerns over the corporatization of the UW.
  • More than 600 faculty completed an online survey about future UW Regent appointments, with 90% insisting that the Board of Regents must be uncompromising in its support of greater public funding for the UW. (Governor Jay Inslee will appoint or renew two Regent positions this Fall.)

UW faculty have also penned an op-ed -- published this week by The Tacoma News Tribune -- clearly articulating this call for the next UW Regents to be champions for public funding. Click here to read it.

This quarter you may be approached by a colleague or an SEIU organizer. We invite you to join our movement to reclaim the integrity of our profession, and work towards restoring the state’s commitment to funding public higher education.

Sincerely,

The UW Faculty Forward Organizing Committee:

Joanne Clarke Dillman, Full-Time Lecturer, Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, UW Tacoma

Charlie Collins, Assistant Professor, Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, UW Bothell

Víctor Fernández-Mallat, Full-Time Lecturer, Spanish and Portuguese Studies, UW Seattle

Michael Forman, Associate Professor, Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, UW Tacoma

Christoph Giebel, Associate Professor, History & Jackson School of International Studies, UW Seattle

Amy Hagopian, Associate Professor, Health Services and Global Health, UW Seattle

Sarah Hampson, Assistant Professor, Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, UW Tacoma

Michael Honey, Professor, Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, UW Tacoma

Aaron Katz, Principal Lecturer, Health Services, Global Health, and Law, UW Seattle

James Liner, Part-Time Lecturer, Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, UW Tacoma

Sudhir Mahadevan, Associate Professor, Comparative Literature, Cinema & Media, UW Seattle

Carrie Matthews, Full-Time Lecturer, English, UW Seattle

Diane Morrison, Professor, Social Work, UW Seattle

Gina Neff, Associate Professor, Communication, UW Seattle

Elizabeth “Libi” Sundermann, Full-Time Lecturer, Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, UW Tacoma

Charles Williams, Division Chair and Associate Professor, Politics, Philosophy and Public Affairs, Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, UW Tacoma

Robert Wood, Professor, Atmospheric Sciences, UW Seattle



P.S. Do you support forming a union? Click here to fill out a membership card today!

 

September 11, 2015

UW Faculty Union in the News

Dear Colleague,

Today, the Seattle Times is running an article about our efforts to form a UW faculty union. It also references yesterday’s letter from Interim President Cauce arguing against the union.

In the Times article, faculty speak eloquently about why we are forming a union:

  • To “bring more pressure to bear on the Legislature to fully fund education and to empower professors to lobby lawmakers.”
  • Because “the university is becoming increasingly run like a business, rather than a public service.”
  • The article also references the growing number of part-time and contingent faculty who are hired on short-term contracts.

We are disappointed, but not surprised, at Interim President Cauce’s letter. The UW administration is following a pattern set by other university administrations in response to faculty organizing – raising fears about governance, collegiality, academic excellence, union dues and strikes. Here is an account by University of Oregon Professor Michael Dreiling about their union experience, including the ways their administration followed the same anti-union playbook that the UW is beginning to use.

In her letter, Interim President Cauce raises questions about whether a union might be imposed by a minority. Here’s how it works:

  1. A secret-ballot, union election is triggered (but not decided) when at least 30% of faculty sign a union card. Signing a union card is a commitment to support unionization.
  2. A majority of voters decide the election. Faculty union elections are generally far more democratic than political elections and more inclusive than shared governance, due to their high voter turnout (usually between 75%-95%) and the inclusion of faculty without representation in the Senate, such as Part-Time Lecturers.
  3. Once faculty vote to unionize, we elect a faculty bargaining committee, which would negotiate a contract with the administration. A majority of voting faculty determine in a second vote whether to approve our contract.

Despite administration opposition, thousands of faculty across the country have formed unions and strengthened both their bargaining positions and their institutions in the process. Nationwide, 37,000 faculty have voted to form their union with SEIU alone. As many of us begin to return to campus for the Fall Quarter, you may be approached by a colleague or an SEIU organizer. We invite you to join our movement to reclaim the integrity of our profession and work towards restoring the state’s commitment to funding public higher education.

Sincerely,

Christoph Giebel, Associate Professor, History & Jackson School of International Studies, UW Seattle

Carrie Matthews, Full-time Lecturer, English, UW Seattle

Gina Neff, Associate Professor, Communication, UW Seattle

Charles Williams, Division Chair and Associate Professor, Politics, Philosophy and Public Affairs, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, UW Tacoma

P.S. Do you support forming a union? Click here to fill out a membership card today!

 

September 2, 2015

UW Faculty Survey: Next UW Regents must be champions for public funding

Dear Colleague,

Our electronic survey of more than 600 University of Washington (UW) faculty revealed 90% believe Governor Jay Inslee’s top priority in appointing any new Regents members should be their uncompromising advocacy for more public higher education funding.

When asked what strategic priorities a Regents appointee should advance, the most important principle was to “oppose privatization and support UW as a public good,” according to 74% of respondents.

By contrast, eight of the existing Board of Regents, all appointed by former Governor Christine Gregoire, are captains of finance and industry. They have done very little to signal to the state legislature they support progressive revenue increases, some of which might land on them, for higher ed*.

Other qualities of new Regents members, respondents said, were a record of integrity and civic virtue (89%), and “commitment to an open and inclusive process for future presidential searches” (76%).

Respondent faculty said aside from resisting privatization, the Regents should recruit and retain excellent faculty by increasing faculty salaries to be competitive with peer institutions, followed by the aim of prioritizing affordability and accessibility for UW students. In a forced-rank question, 82% of respondents said their top recommendation was to support specific state revenue solutions to restore public funding for UW, as opposed to philanthropic donations (30%) or public private partnerships with industry (19%).

About 86% of respondents said they believed faculty should have a voting position on the Board. UW students have a voting seat on the UW Board of Regents now, although faculty do not. In the states of Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada and Michigan, the Board of Regents is even elected by the public.

When asked to nominate individuals for consideration, a wide smattering of current faculty and community leader names turned up. Here’s my personal favorite: an “award-winning K-12 teacher.”

The UW’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors and UW Faculty Forward co-sponsored the survey, conducted through an on-line survey tool that was distributed to all faculty listed in the directory between August 13 to 25.

What's Next?
We will be sharing the results of the survey with Governor Inslee’s office, as he prepares to fill two UW Regents appointments at the beginning of the academic year. The two Regents whose terms are set to expire are Joanne Harrell, Senior Director at Microsoft, and Orin Smith, former President and Chief Operating Officer at Starbucks, both appointed by previous Governor Christine Gregoire. The Governor could name new appointees or simply reappoint the two members.

UW faculty are forming a union to reclaim the integrity of our profession and work towards restoring the state’s commitment to funding public higher education.

Do you support forming a faculty union at UW? Join your colleagues by signing your confidential union card today:

http://www.uwfacultyforward.org/sign_membership_card

Sincerely,

Amy Hagopian
Associate Professor, Health Services; Associate Professor, Global Health
UW Faculty Forward Organizing Committee Member
Secretary, AAUP University of Washington Chapter

 *Let me acknowledge the Seattle Times article on July 2, which says: “They haven’t advertised it, but the budget deal agreed to by state lawmakers this week quietly targeted Microsoft for a $57 million tax increase over the next two years. And the Redmond software giant — which has drawn criticism over its corporate tax tab — is apparently willing to go along with it, raising no public objections.” If Microsoft is really ready to be appropriately taxed to support the educational institutions that make its success possible in Washington, that’s great. And it’s about time. The jury is still out.

 

August 13, 2015

What A Board Of Regents Appointee Should Represent

Dear Faculty Colleague,

Governor Inslee is scheduled to appoint two Regents to the University of Washington board at the beginning of the academic year. The UW AAUP chapter has partnered with the Faculty Forward campaign to ask the Governor to appoint Regents who fully support the interests of the University.

To that end, the UW Faculty Forward Organizing Committee is asking for your assistance in describing the qualities desirable for University of Washington Regents. Click here to fill out our survey.

Our concern is that Regents with close corporate ties have interests not in alignment with the UW. Corporate interests to hold down their corporate taxes are in conflict with the UW mission to providing high quality, accessible education, community service, and research. The two Regents whose terms are set to expire are Joanne Harrell, Senior Director at Microsoft, and Orin Smith, former President and Chief Operating Officer at Starbucks.

The Governor could name new appointees or simply reappoint the two members.

All the appointments to the UW’s Board of Regents by Governor Gregoire have close connections with corporations (Microsoft, Boeing, Starbucks, Alaska Airlines, and others). Many of these corporations are on record opposing progressive tax reform that could restore state funding for higher education.

As president of the UW’s AAUP chapter, I represent a group of faculty who strongly believe the process for appointing the UW Regents must be open and inclusive.

Please complete our Regents appointee survey:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/uw-regent-appointments

If you have any individual candidates in mind, you can also list them in the survey.

Sincerely,

Rob Wood
Professor, Atmospheric Sciences
UW AAUP Chapter President

 

July 2, 2016

UW faculty and the budget victory

Dear Colleagues,

The July 1 Seattle Times headline was a sight for sore eyes! “'Historic’ tuition cut sets state apart from rest of U.S.”

Here are some other welcome details of the state budget, which was signed into law by Governor Inslee:

  • In addition to UW student tuition cuts of 15% between 2015–2017, more money was allocated for student scholarships.
  • Tuition cuts were backfilled with additional funding made possible by closing corporate tax loopholes.
  • The university's biennial operating funding from the state will increase by $119,039,000, a 23.8% increase over 2013-15.
  • There will be sufficient funds for faculty and professional staff salary increases of 3% in FY16 and 1.8% in FY17.
  • UW staff union contracts are fully funded.
  • Threatened cuts to state employee health insurance (including UW faculty) were defeated.
  • Much-needed new funding for K-12 schools did not come at the expense of higher education.

UW faculty should feel proud of our role in helping achieve this positive outcome for ourselves, our students and our University.

Last week, as policy makers in Olympia were negotiating the state budget, we delivered our petition with over 3,500 signatures to Governor Inslee and legislative leaders, demanding a new course for future investments in UW.

Image: KOMO evening news coverage of petition delivery to Gov. Inslee Image: KIRO morning news coverage of petition delivery to Gov. Inslee

Thanks to our newly-launched faculty union campaign, our efforts received wide public attention in ways we haven’t seen before. That, combined with efforts by education advocates and unions across the state, helped pressure the Legislature and Governor to reach a budget deal that begins to reverse years of under-investment in higher education.

Of course, this budget deal is not enough. We must continue to build a powerful faculty movement that insists that the UW, as a flagship public university, needs a real, long-term solution to fully fund education, which includes:

  • An open and inclusive process for appointing a new UW President and UW Regents who will support our core educational values instead of running our school like a giant, private corporation.
  • New, progressive revenues like a capital gains tax on the wealthiest few in order to maintain tuition reductions and assistance and continued investment in UW faculty, students and staff.

Visit our UW Faculty Forward website for more information about joining our growing faculty movement.

Best,

Sudhir Mahadevan
Assistant Professor of Film Studies
Comparative Literature, Cinema & Media

P.S. -- The Seattle Times covered our delegation to Gerberding, when we called on the UW Board of Regents to use an open and inclusive process to select the next UW President. Our petition was also recognized in an article in The Chronical of Higher Education regarding the UW presidential search.

June 26, 2016

3,500 Against UW Corporatization

Dear Colleagues, 

After collecting over 3,500 signatures against the growing corporatization of UW, a delegation of students, staff and faculty delivered our petition to the Board of Regents, Governor Inslee and the State Legislature. 

The Seattle Times covered our delegation to Gerberding last week, when we called on the UW Board of Regents to use an open and inclusive process to select the next UW President. Our petition was also referenced in an article in The Chronical of Higher Education regarding the UW presidential search.

Image: petition delivered to UW Board of Regents

On Tuesday, a delegation of faculty, staff and students met with Governor Inslee’s staff to deliver our petition. We asked the Governor for an open and inclusive process for appointing UW Regents who fully support the interests of the University.

We also dropped off our petitions at the offices of state senate and house leadership, calling on the legislature to pass new, progressive revenue in order to roll back student tuition increases and fund student financial aid, union contracts, and UW employee wage increases.

Image: petition delivered to Governor Inslee

Image: KOMO evening news coverage of petition delivery to Gov. Inslee Image: KIRO morning news coverage of petition delivery to Gov. Inslee

Whether or not you signed the petition that we delivered, your voice in Olympia matters right now. The state legislature has less than a week to pass a budget that includes adequate funding for public higher education. Call the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000.* The Hotline operators will deliver your message to your state Senator, state Representatives, and – for free – to the Governor. If you’re unsure who represents you, they’ll also find your District and the names of your legislators.

Best,

Diane Morrison
Professor, School of Social Work
UW Faculty Forward

*Advisory: State employees, including UW faculty, are prohibited from using state resources or time to lobby. Please call your legislators on your personal phone during personal time.

 

June 16, 2015

At Stake in Olympia - Increase or Decrease UW Funding?

Legislators in Olympia are now in their second special session, and funding for the University of Washington is one of the key issues at stake. As current and former faculty, we need to speak up.

One budget, proposed by the House, would freeze tuition, fund current programs and provide new funds for the Washington State Need Grant (SNG) – which supports low-income undergraduate students. The House would raise new revenue for education through a Capital Gains tax on Washington’s wealthiest 2%, a welcome shift in Washington State’s regressive tax system.

The other budget, offered by the Senate, would lower student tuition but not fully replace lost revenue with state funds, resulting in a budget cut to the UW. It would also reduce family health insurance benefits for all state employees, including UW faculty. Not only does it not raise new revenues, the Senate budget offers additional tax breaks to large corporations (including $70 million to Microsoft – more than off-setting Microsoft’s $10 million gift for a second Computer Science & Engineering building on the Seattle campus).

Frankly, neither budget makes up for massive funding cuts to public higher education in recent years, but the House budget helps to reverse the trend, while the Senate budget offers more of the same.

Although I retired a few years ago, this feels personal to me. I remain involved with a variety of student groups (mostly in the health sciences), and am appalled by the amount of debt our students carry – debt that is in many cases directly traceable to the state’s unwillingness to adequately fund higher education. We are not a poor state. We should not make our students go deep into debt so that we can continue to be the kind of state where we all want to live.

As current or former faculty, your voice matters. Call the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000.* The Hotline operators will deliver your message to your state Senator, state Representatives, and – for free – to the Governor. If you’re unsure who represents you, they’ll also find your District and the names of your legislators.

Sample Message (feel free to put this in your own words):

As a University of Washington faculty member, I support the House budget that invests in public higher education. Please pass House Bill 1106 (budget bill) and House Bill 2224 (capital gains bill).

Thank you for your advocacy!

Best Regards,

Nancy Amidei
Senior Lecturer - Emeritus
Civic Engagement Project 

*Advisory: State employees, including UW faculty, are prohibited from using state resources or time to lobby. Please call your legislators on your personal phone during personal time.

 

June 12, 2015

A personal message about UW Tacoma lecturers and our faculty union

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

We wanted to send you, our fellow UWT lecturers, a personal message about “Faculty Forward,” a recently launched UW faculty unionization effort with SEIU Local 925. You may have heard that on Wednesday, May 27, UW AAUP’s Annual Meeting formally launched this effort. Nearly 100 people attended the event on the Seattle campus. Six speakers from outside UW each gave their own perspectives on being part of a faculty union and on union organizing efforts. The AAUP-UW Chapter have written and posted a meeting report with summaries of each speaker's comments. We, the undersigned, are supporters of unions in general, but after this meeting and initial discussions and organizing work with our SEIU partners, we are even more certain this is a great move for UW faculty—and, frankly, lecturers. UWT’s lecturers are a rapidly growing group with very real issues that a union contract can help address. More importantly, we can’t wait any longer to strengthen our voice with our administrators and state government. Our positioning makes us essential advocates for instruction and higher education, and we can use it to discuss and negotiate a better future for Washington’s public university system. Be assured, that is very much the framing this initiative has: for faculty, regardless of title or rank, to work together and to work with administration and the state to promote higher education as a public good. A UW faculty union would give us additional support and clout in these negotiations.

We have been following higher education news around the country closely and given the erosion of tenure, the increase in non-tenure track faculty, and events such as Wisconsin state government’s attempt to end tenure we believe we must act NOW to raise our voices in our efforts to protect the integrity of higher education. (See this Inside Higher Ed article for details on Wisconsin). This not only means preparing for potential attacks in Washington State, but also creating solutions such as increased funding for higher education, new revenue, and protecting academic freedom.  Collective voice can help achieve all of this.

You may have already been approached by other faculty or SEIU organizers with information about UW’s Faculty Forward unionization effort. Perhaps you already made decisions to sign a union card and the public letter of support. If not, we want to encourage you to do this—or at least begin to explore these options. We can assure you there will be more information and discussion forthcoming from UW faculty and UWT faculty supporters and organizers specifically. We can provide you with more information personally, and we invite you to visit the Faculty Forward website: http://www.uwfacultyforward.org/

We, as lecturers ourselves, understand the vulnerability some of you may feel about signing a union card or the public support letter. We have thought about these issues as well but feel secure in our positions as card and letter signers because we have a legal right to unionize, and the support of leading tenured UWT faculty, the UW AAUP Executive Board, and SEIU. Signing the letter is a crucial way to build support and help others overcome fear, and the number of signers is growing every day from a variety of ranks and titles across the UW system. You can view some of their names, ranks and titles at http://www.uwfacultyforward.org/sign_public_letter_from_uw_faculty and will see more as the on-line list is updated.

Forming and supporting a faculty union is not a radical action—faculty across the nation are unionizing and achieving very basic yet tangible goals. For contingent faculty, unionizing with SEIU has led to huge victories in compensation for non-class-time work, guaranteed re-appointment across quarters and years, increased seniority and transparency on class assignments, full-time classification for full-time work, and longer appointment periods. Moreover, this is not your parents’ union—we recognize that this is a union to foster stronger communication and negotiation with our administration and state government for the public good of higher education, rather than agitation to support private interests.  In the end, we all want to improve our educational system.

Although you can easily find more information at the Faculty Forward website, at http://www.uwfacultyforward.org/, we would like to give you the basics here:

“Faculty at the University of Washington are on the front lines of sweeping change in higher education. Increasingly, many of us understand we must act to preserve the integrity of our profession and the mission of our institution. In early 2015, UW faculty joined forces with SEIU, one of the largest education unions in the country, to launch UW Faculty Forward, a union campaign for faculty at the University of Washington. SEIU contributes staff time and expertise to a faculty-governed process.

SEIU represents contingent faculty at schools including Tufts, Boston University, Georgetown, George Washington, and both tenure track and non-tenure track faculty in the Cal State system. Faculty at the University of Minnesota, a state university similar in mission and size to the UW, are in the process of forming a union with SEIU. In Washington State, SEIU Local 925 represents faculty at Antioch University and Seattle University, as well as the classified staff at the UW.”

Thanks for reading this and don’t hesitate to get in touch with any or all of us for more information. If you would like information packets provided from SEIU and UW AAUP Joanne Clarke Dillman (jclarked@uw.edu) will be in Tacoma over the next few weeks and she will be happy to put one in your campus mailbox and setup a conversation with you. We are all excited to chat with you through e-mail or in person over the summer! You can also reach out to SEIU Local 925 organizer Devin Kelly at dkelly@seiu925.org if you would like to schedule a meeting with him directly.

Sincerely,

Joanne Clarke Dillman, Lecturer, SIAS (jclarked@uw.edu)

Andrea Hill, Lecturer, Criminal Justice (andhill@uw.edu)

Cynthia Howson, Lecturer, SIAS (chowson@uw.edu)

James Liner, PT Lecturer, SIAS (linerj@uw.edu)

Libi Sundermann, Lecturer, SIAS (libsun@uw.edu)

 

June 9, 2015

Launching a Faculty Union at the UW

Dear Colleague,

While the academic year may be ending, UW faculty are just beginning our campaign to protect the integrity of our profession and the mission of our institution.

On May 27, over 100 faculty gathered at the UW AAUP Chapter’s annual meeting, which focused on faculty unionization. Panelists, including faculty union leaders from across the country, shared their experiences working with their colleagues against the defunding and privatization of public higher education.

Bill Lyne, Professor at Western Washington University and President of United Faculty of Washington State, shared:

"Since the four regional universities unionized, higher education as a political issue has risen dramatically in this state. Now, we have the house and the senate fighting over who is going to be perceived as better for higher education. Now, higher education is a voting issue in this state. And if the UW faculty were to unionize, then higher education would be an even more potent voting issue in this state."

See additional remarks from panelists here.

Over 900 UW faculty, students and staff have signed on to our petition calling for a fully funded and democratically run university. As you finish your grading, prepare for summer plans, or get your cap and gown ready for commencement, please add your name to our petition!

Petition: We will not allow the UW to be privatized, corporatized and accessible only to the privileged few:

https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/campaign-for-a-fully-funded-democratically-run-uw?source=uwfacultyforward

Best Regards,

UW Faculty Forward
(See a growing list of public supporters on our website)

 

May 21, 2015

A union for UW faculty?

Dear Colleague,

Faculty at the University of Washington are on the front lines of sweeping change in higher education. Increasingly, many of us understand we must act to preserve the integrity of our profession and the mission of our institution.

In early 2015, UW faculty joined forces with SEIU, one of the largest education unions in the country, to launch UW Faculty Forward, a union campaign for faculty at the University of Washington.

To help keep UW faculty informed, we have created a website and now invite you look over the materials we have gathered.

Of particular note, we would like to point out two items:

  • Campaign Against Corporation of the UW: Together with the UW AAUP Chapter, UW labor unions and student organizations, we are taking a stand for a fully funded and democratically run university.
  • 2015 AAUP Annual Meeting: Taking place on May 27 from 3-5pm at UW’s new Native American  wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ (Intellectual House), the main topic is “Launching a Faculty Union at the UW: A conversation with union leaders from other campuses.”

You’ll find more details on our website.

http://www.uwfacultyforward.org

We invite you to join our movement to reclaim the integrity of our profession, and work toward restoring Washington State’s commitment to funding public higher education.

Best Regards,

UW Faculty Forward


(See a growing list of public supporters on our website)


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All UW photographs by Curtis Cronn and subject to CC-licenses as indicated on Flickr

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