UW faculty wants to unionize, administration not in favor

“We have been talking about faculty unionizing for many years,” said Amy Hagopian, associate professor in the School of Public Health. “Finally, this year, it seemed like a good opportunity to start to get that going.”

By LaVendrick Smith

“…the push to unionize faculty began to heat up earlier this year and much of the aim is to have better representation for faculty at the state Legislature. She said the state cut much of its funding to the UW after the 2008 recession, and much of the stimulus aid designated for previously funded programs has dwindled.

“The main impetus behind unionization is to increase the faculty’s voice and power around persuading the Legislature to properly support higher education in Washington state,” Hagopian said.

Organizers say they are also seeking more academic freedom through unionizing. With state funding decreased, Hagopian said the university has turned more toward philanthropy for funding for teaching and research.

She says faculty is concerned about the amount of control private funding can have in influencing research or teaching.

“When we have surveyed faculty about where they think university funding should come from, philanthropy is their least favorite source,” Hagopian said. “It comes with so many strings attached.”

University administration isn’t in favor of unionizing plans. In an email sent to faculty on Sept. 10, interim president Ana Mari Cauce said she has “grave reservations” about faculty unionizing while commending the more than 15,000 employees currently represented in collective bargaining.

“We believe that collective bargaining over such matters as evaluation, promotion, and tenure would not only affect the excellence of the university, but would diminish the voice of the faculty, sideline the Faculty Senate, and eclipse the collaborative approach we have worked on for generations,” Cauce said in the email.

Associate professor of history Moon-Ho Jung said he disagrees that unionizing would have a negative impact on the university.

“A faculty union would enhance shared governance and a culture of collaboration,” Jung said...”

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