From: AAUP [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] On Behalf Of Scott Barnhart
Sent: Saturday, February 06, 2016 5:28 PM
Subject: [AAUP] An excellent example of where public employee unions have greatly benefited faculty and patient interests
Giving credit where credit is due- here is an excellent example, with direct impact to patients, faculty and staff at the University of Washington, of the constructive work done by public employee unions.
While there has been a lot of speculation on the benefits and risks of unionizing the faculty at UW the discussion is hampered because it is so speculative. Much of the debate is framed in black and white terms when the issues are really more nuanced. Here is a good example of where public unions have played a key role in an issue central to faculty at Harborview- keeping open primary care clinics which serve a very diverse and vulnerable population.
A little over two years ago the Harborview Community was shocked to hear that primary care clinics might be closed.
This ill considered move by administrators was far advanced before reversed. It has now played out over the last two years in a full re-negotiation of the management agreement between King County and the University of Washington. While faculty spoke out against the proposed clinic closures information and general discussion were closely managed until the very end by which time the move to close clinics was largely reversed. It was not a model of shared governance.
The management agreement which is being ratified is the document that sets forth the terms under which the University of Washington will manage Harborview Medical Center for the next ten years. This new agreement is a remarkable document that is a win-win for patients, the County, UW and faculty and staff (Full documents can be found by searching for legislation for the King County Council. Search term “Harborview” http://mkcclegisearch.kingcounty.gov/calendar.aspx). This agreement which codifies preserving clinical services for vulnerable patients, would not have happened without the strong and thoughtful input from public employee unions. This union advocacy goes far beyond the more narrow preservation of worker rights and focused on the important public health, including clinical care, responsibilities of Harborview.
The agreement clearly defines the separate roles for the UW, County and Harborview Board of Trustees. A commitment is made to preserve and augment primary care capacity on the Harborview campus and in SKCPH with clear procedures for open review if changes are proposed. Reporting relationships of the Executive Director are clarified, fiscal transparency is codified and Harborview’s board will now have two seats on the UW Medicine Board. This is a good outcome for all parties. The UW and King County are to be commended for this far reaching agreement.
It would be a mistake, however, to think that good governance just happened- it took stakeholders with leverage, specifically public employee unions, to “facilitate” such a good outcome.
From the Seattle Times:
UW, King County reach agreement on running Harborview Medical Center
Originally published February 1, 2016 at 3:45 pm Updated February 2, 2016 at 11:44 am
King County and the University of Washington announced an agreement Monday for the UW to continue operating Harborview Medical Center.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Harborview Medical Center, the region’s premiere trauma center and burn unit, will remain devoted to its original core mission as a provider of health care for King County’s poor, according to an agreement reached by the county and the University of Washington.
The university and county on Monday announced the 10-year contract that formalizes the agreement and the hospital’s core mission, and says care will be more accessible in community-based clinics. The contract could be extended to 30 years if both sides agree.
The previous contract between the county and the university had expired in June of 2015.
According to the Washington Federation of State Employees, the new contract was held up over the University of Washington’s controversial plan to close critical-care and community clinics at the hospital and the
Critics said the University of Washington had lost sight of one of Harborview’s core missions, which is to serve as the county’s hospital caring for the poor and indigent.
The new contract provides clear direction on how Harborview will achieve its mission as a public hospital by serving those who are most vulnerable and those who do not have health insurance, according to a statement.
“This is, literally, the county’s hospital,” said Clayton Lewis, president of the Harborview board of trustees. “We want the voters and citizens of King County to have a sense of pride and ownership.”
The 139-year-old hospital has been run by the UW for the county for 45 years, since the county asked for help from the university, said Chad Lewis, a spokesman from King County Executive Dow Constantine.
Last year, the Metropolitan King County Council approved a blueprint for the negotiations based on the vision and principles for how it believed a county hospital should be run.
County Council members said that because Harborview is a public medical facility, it has a commitment to treating the indigent, sick, injured and infirm of King County and that patients should not be turned away by their inability to pay. In addition, the county said, the operator of the facility should place a high priority on creating a positive relationship between management and employees.
The hospital is owned by King County and governed by a board of trustees appointed by the county. Harborview Medical Center is the only designated Level 1 adult and pediatric trauma and burn center in the state of Washington and serves as the regional trauma and burn referral center for Alaska, Montana and Idaho.
Since 1970, Harborview has been operated through a partnership with the University of Washington Medical School. This agreement has been governed by a series of contracts delineating the roles and responsibilities of the county, the board of trustees and the University of Washington.
The contract has been approved by the board of trustees and the unions.
“We commend King County Executive Dow Constantine and the King County Council for their leadership to ensure that this jewel of King County’s health-care system will have high ground labor relations with UW Medicine to continue providing quality patient care,” said Diane Sosne, president of the Service Employees International Union Healthcare 1199NW.
It will now go before the County Council and the UW Board of Regents for final approval.
Christine Clarridge: email@example.com or 206-464-8983.
Scott Barnhart, MD, MPH
Professor, Departments of Medicine and Global Health
University of Washington
From: AAUP [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] On Behalf Of Duane Storti
Sent: Saturday, January 16, 2016 5:37 PM
To: Faculty Issues and Concerns
Cc: Amy Hagopian
Subject: [AAUP] Reply to Prof Stroup's assertion of code enforceability (formerly Re: What could be in a union contract? Evidence from other campuses)
Sarah et al.,
While Judge Yu (now Justice Yu) did indeed find the UW handbook to be a legally binding contractual document in 2005, since that time the UW administration has acted to greatly diminish the contractual value of the handbook for matters involving salaries.
If you do a bit of reading on the Faculty Senate and/or UW-AAUP websites, you will learn that in 2010 President Emmert unilaterally (and in the face of vigorous opposition in the faculty senate) made significant changes to Executive Order 64 that deals with faculty salary policy. The changes include insertion of the following language near the end of the introduction:
"The Faculty Salary Policy is also founded on a clear understanding that the final decision on the University budget, including salaries, rests with the Board of Regents. Therefore, salary progression as envisioned in this policy, including the award of minimum equal-percentage merit salary increases for eligible faculty members, is conditioned on specific approval by the Board of Regents as part of the annual budget."
While we once thought of the "shall" clauses in the salary policy salary as "guaranteed," since 2010 the official policy of the UW is that salary increases are only granted if and when the Regents decide to approve them, regardless of anything else the handbook might say.
As far as salary policy goes, our Code legally requires the Regents to carry out the policy when they feel like it. That is not what is usually meant by "legally binding".
Since President Emmert's unilateral action, 3 succeeding presidents (and the Regents themselves) could have done something to restore the contractual value of the salary policy in the UW faculty code/handbook but have not done so.
Let me finish with a statement of personal opinion. The current state of affairs is anti-competitive and detrimental to the university. It produces salary structure inequities that hurt both the morale and the economic status of loyal faculty, and it is not at all helpful in terms of hiring new faculty members. A policy that effectively says "Come join the UW faculty and get rewarded for your efforts if and when the Regents feel like it" just does not make a great recruiting pitch. This state of affairs really needs to change for the good of the university.
P.S. You might also read Storti v. UW II that concluded in Washington State Supreme Court in late 2014. The Court held by a 5-4 margin that, while the Handbook is contractual, the administration can invalidate a promise involving future events (like salary increases that would have been due to UW faculty in 2010) by simply changing the Handbook to invalidate the promise before the effective date of the future event. UW faculty working in the period from July 2009 through April 2010 could read in the Code about the salary increase they were guaranteed by meritorious service, but the administration's power to eradicate that promise by a unilateral handbook change after substantial performance of the service was upheld by the court. Given that finding, what good reason is there to put faith in what the code says about our current employment? The handbook, despite being technically "contractual," seems to fall short of fulfilling the basic purpose of an employment contract.
Note that Storti v. UW II was originally assigned to Judge Yu, but the administration hired high-profile outside counsel to get her removed from the case and argue against enforceability of current code language. Apparently, the administration is willing to spend serious money to avoid the scenario you envision in which the code creates legally enforceable commitments to the faculty.
P.P.S. You might also consider the issue of a salary freeze at the state level. Code language was ineffective in providing the UW with an enforceable salary policy, while other kinds of contracts succeeded in supporting policy enforceability.
David McDermott Hughes
President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
Professor, Department of Anthropology
To fellow academics at the University of Washington:
I write to you as the president of the labor union representing 5000 tenure-track and non-tenure track faculty, librarians, teaching assistants, research assistants, post-docs, and academic advisors at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. Our sister local, which shares leadership and staff with us, represents another 2000 part-time lecturers. Since you are now considering whether to form a union, I thought the experience of Rutgers might prove illuminating. Indeed, as one of the oldest, largest, and most prestigious unionized faculties, we provide something of a model for UW (not to mention sharing a past university president, Richard McCormick). As I will advise below, a union should give you power and protection sufficient to improve your own lot and to defend conditions for scholarship writ-large.
Let me start by addressing a fear commonly associated with collective bargaining. The very notion sounds conflictual. Will unionization fracture the community of your university into forever-warring camps of labor and management? The answer is “yes” and “no.” On the “yes” side, some conflicts are already brewing, regardless of the union. Your administration has been steadily converting tenure-track lines into contingent faculty positions. Through “contingentization,” the majority of teaching and research at UW now takes place without the protection, or even the possibility, of tenure. If you unionize, you can fight back to expand tenure protections. Surely, those of you who have tenure don’t want to be the last tenured faculty in a sea of insecure adjuncts.
But that, now-bilateral fight need not poison the atmosphere on campus. Union leaders and staff enjoy congenial relations with the president of Rutgers University and with the various vice-presidents with whom we bargain. President Barchi, McCormick’s successor, recently thanked us publicly, in front of the University Senate, for the Union’s “leadership of the faculty.” Mostly, I think, these administrators consider me to be a prof doing yeoman’s service for the university we all love.
At an institutional level too, the administration and the union cooperate as often as we tussle. Last month, for example, Vice-President Karen Stubaus and I agreed that each side should pay for a researcher to examine practices of evaluating teaching at other universities. When our labor-management committee completes its work, she and I will send a joint message – as we often do – to thousands of faculty. Deans and vice-presidents are continually pulling me aside and thanking the union for the various ways we help them behind the scenes. Our contract, in turns out, helps the university maintain its share of the state budget. In short, the union mostly works cordially and collaboratively with administrators on the basis of mutual respect and shared power (more on power below).
Perhaps you fear that unionization will somehow drive down the quality of UW. At Rutgers, exactly the opposite occurred. Having formed a chapter of the American Association of University Professors in 1922, we gained collective bargaining rights in 1970. At that time, Rutgers was a teaching-intensive institution, still rooted in its past as a private, liberal arts college. The union pushed salaries up and, over the decades, Rutgers attracted more and more accomplished faculty. In 1989, we
joined the Association of American Universities. Now, we stand at or nearly at the top rung of public institutions, just below the most elite private universities (where the law prevents faculty unionization). Your tenure-track workforce comprises roughly 30% of the faculty, versus 47% at Rutgers. We negotiated for that: our 2007-2011 contract established a “faculty development fund” so as to hire 105 new assistant professors on tenure lines. Collective bargaining has consistently raised the average salary and the pay floor. Your full-time contingent faculty earn a minimum of $38,000 while ours take home at least $50,000 this year and $55,000 next year, thanks to a 10% raise obtained at the bargaining table. Deans still give out-of-cycle raises to the most prominent faculty members. The union has never discouraged or constrained this practice.
I hope I have made the case that unionization will not undermine UW. So what can it do to benefit you? As suggested above, collective bargaining can push salaries upwards and improve job security (by restraining “contingentization”). It should also result in more fairness. Our contract establishes transparency, due process, and a grievance procedure. Any candidate for tenure will know the deadlines, who is viewing her file, and what is in it. If denied, she may avail of an appeal process as well as arbitration with a union-hired attorney. Thanks to the union, even-handed evaluation – rather than favoritism or prejudice – almost always prevails in tenure and promotions. And if you have tenure, you still need fairness. Last year, a dean dismissed a full professor from her course following a student’s complaint. The matter could have escalated even further – up to a charge of harassment or bullying - but we brought the dispute into mediation. The dean apologized to the professor, and we will shortly devise a process of adjudicating student complaints.
Finally, you might want to join a union because unions have power. Senates and other faculty bodies can recommend reforms – and that is important. But, if UW is anything like Rutgers, the faculty senate has little legal clout or authority. Unions are different. If more than half of you vote for union representation, the National Labor Relations Act and the labor movement will immediately back you up. Your dues will pay for lawyers, lobbyists, researchers, press agents, and a host of other resources at your own campus and at state and national levels. You will be surprised at what you can achieve. In the fall, for instance, faculty in one of our science buildings came down with various illnesses. They complained to the Facilities Department, which sampled the air and dismissed the problem. Then these faculty called their union, and we sent an industrial hygienist, who has been carrying out detailed analyses. Working collaboratively with the administration – after its initial reluctance - we are mapping symptoms and devising a solution for this “sick building.”
Meanwhile, unionized faculty are defending higher education. Governor Christie proposed a budget cut of $1.5 million to the Educational Opportunity Fund for undergraduates. These grants-with-advising have been tremendously helpful for low-income, first generation students across New Jersey. Our union publicized the issue and joined with locals at every state college and university - and with our many allies among students and legislators. We restored the cut and added $1 million more to the Fund for 2016. I could go on and on in this vein: about the ways in which unionized faculty are defending higher education from attempts to privatize it and run it like a business. Here are two press reports regarding campaigns at Rutgers against Pearson (successful) and Academic Analytics (just begun): https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/10/11/rutgers-u-graduate-school-faculty-vote-block-pearson-partnership and http://chronicle.com/article/Can-Data-Measure-Faculty/234595.
You as faculty must decide whether to unionize at UW. I hope that this report from New Jersey will dispel some unwarranted fears and broaden your ambitions. I would love for you to join the Rutgers faculty in defending tenure, academic freedom, and affordable, high quality education.
David M. Hughes
From: Amy Hagopian <email@example.com>
Date: Fri, Jan 15, 2016 at 4:55 PM
Subject: [AAUP] What could be in a union contract? Evidence from other campuses
To: Faculty Issues and Concerns <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Cc: Sarah Stroup <email@example.com>, "Susan J. Astley" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Scott Freeman <email@example.com>
- Jury duty compensation
- Health and safety
- Travel reimbursement (when was the last time you submitted a receipt for local travel?)
- Space for faculty union meeting conversations
- And while all that sounds like it’s faculty-centric, Let me remind you that most of us in the union struggle are mainly all about protecting higher education in Washington State, which is all about our students. Our working conditions are their learning conditions. And our clout in Olympia can protect and expand higher education funding, which will keep down tuition and student debt.
From: Amy Hagopian <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: December 12, 2015 at 11:02:16 AM PST
To: Faculty Issues and Concerns <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: [AAUP] Hagopian answers questions re. unionization and the Medical School
Reply-To: Faculty Issues and Concerns <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The AAUP list server is moderated by volunteers, and responses are not assigned to anyone, but I’ll attempt to jump in to answer your questions.
1. Is striking a possibility? As a scientist, I think almost anything within the rules of physics is a technical possibility, but let me just point out that the RCW under which we are organizing, in section 41.56.120, states, "Nothing contained in this chapter shall permit or grant any public employee the right to strike or refuse to perform his or her official duties.” That makes strike illegal.
2. School of Medicine faculty get their salaries from many sources. How will unionization deal with this situation?
There are two types of faculty to sort out here:
1. clinical faculty and 2. research faculty who do a little clinical work.
Faculty who are involved almost entirely in clinical work would be unlikely to be members of the regular faculty union. RCW Section 41.76.005 states, "Faculty" means employees who, at a public four-year institution of higher education, are designated with faculty status or who perform faculty duties as defined through policies established by the faculty governance system, excluding casual or temporary employees, administrators, confidential employees, graduate student employees, postdoctoral and clinical employees...”
Clinical employees/faculty can organize their own union, and might very well want to! But they would not be members of the Faculty SEIU union.
Medical school faculty might be particularly interested in removing non-compete clauses from their employment contracts. A union could do that.
3. How would SOM faculty benefit from a union?
For faculty who are not primarily clinical, and therefore would be members of the regular SEIU collective bargaining unit, I can imagine a variety of benefits.
More than half of UW faculty in a recent survey said the majority of their paychecks came from research funding. An agreement with our institution could require, for example, that faculty be compensated from state funds for time spent writing grants (half of those survey respondents said they spend more than 10% of their time writing grants). This would put us in compliance with federal restrictions on using grant funded time to write more grants.
It could also ensure bridge funding between grants. Or it could ensure a certain amount of the overhead revenues we generate be funneled for discretionary use by the faculty who generated them, such as for conference travel for graduate students.
Most importantly, perhaps, we could prohibit the re-direction of grant funding for state-obligated teaching and administrative purposes. Nearly half the faculty in that survey expressed concern this was happening, and yet we are still required to sign Faculty Effort Certifications (which means we are required by the UW to commit perjury!).
A collective bargaining agreement could also require more transparency about the use of faculty-generated overhead funds in general.
The Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) will undoubtedly spend months sorting out who is in and who is out of the bargaining unit. (That’s why we should get busy and file a couple of thousand cards, so PERC can start its work on this. Sign your card today!)
Finally, a powerful union with a national presence is a player in Congress, advocating for increased funding for science, and limiting corporate power to direct and shape research agendas. How much money is allocated to NIH, CDC, NASA, and all the agencies that generate grant funds is a political matter. Our union could work on that, and in fact, already is. They’re even working on the cost of parking!
To save higher education in America, and in Washington State, faculty need to organize. I can’t keep meeting the parents at graduation, look them in the eye, and know we charged their daughter $50,000 for a Master of Public Health degree. These new graduates won’t own homes, and won’t be producing grandchildren because our institution buried them in debt. If we don’t do something about this, who will?
Amy Hagopian, PhD
Director, Community Oriented Public Health Practice
From: AAUP [mailto:email@example.com] On Behalf Of James Tweedie
Sent: Thursday, November 12, 2015 9:06 PM
Subject: Re: [AAUP] Seattle Times: UW poised to approve new biology building ‹ from tuition dollars
This is a disturbing story for a number of reasons.
1) It reveals yet again that the legislature has withdrawn its support for education on this campus and in the state more broadly. Stories of overloaded classrooms and increasing student demand at UW meet with indifferent stares in the offices of our political representatives in Olympia, just as K-12 teachers and students have been unable to secure even the minimum level of funding mandated by the state Constitution. Our problems at UW begin with the failure of our political leaders to do their “paramount duty” to fund education at all levels and with our own failure to get the public behind our cause.
2) It demonstrates yet again that Arts and Sciences is forced to operate under far more onerous budget conditions than the rest of campus. This is the first tuition-funded construction at UW since the 1990s. Think of all the buildings that have sprouted up in the past two decades. None of them was paid for like this one, by parents and grandparents who contributed their savings for the education of a family member or by students with loans or wages earned in the dining halls. Of course, we could get corporate sponsors to help pay for GIX in Bellevue (and perhaps even UW itself is chipping in—the University’s financial role in this arrangement has been conspicuously absent from the press releases, as far as I can tell). Of course, our heroes in the tech sector must be allowed to receive their executive education in the conditions of luxury they so richly deserve. But for regular students in the Arts and Sciences at UW: less than nothing. The College will write a $45 million check up front and take out a “mortgage” for an unfinished building whose basement and fifth floor will be “built out” at a later date. If the students drop a few dollars into a hat every time they walk into the classroom, maybe we’ll give them some chairs to sit on. This capital funding model is particularly offensive because A&S has generated large tuition surpluses since the onset of ABB, surpluses that amount to tens of millions of dollars per year, including the notorious “negative supplement” that remains in effect in the current budget ($7.5 million in addition to its regular 30% contribution under ABB). Now the University and the state have decided that they will not even provide funding for the buildings where that surplus-generating activity takes place. In other words, they’re saying that A&S will be required to run a profitable teaching operation and transfer that money to other units on campus, but it will also be forced to pay for the buildings where that surplus is made. This sounds more like the company store in a wild west mining town than a public university. It’s definitely not the type of arrangement you’ll find at “excellent” universities. I was heartened when I saw that the negative supplement was going to disappear in the 2016-2017 budget. (See here: http://opb.washington.edu/sites/default/files/opb/Budget/FY16_ABB_TABLE.pdf). That minuscule supplement will be by far the smallest received by any academic unit at UW, but at least it seemed to be moving in the right direction. Now we know that this was just a shell game. What seemed to be a decline in the percentage of its tuition being returned to the General Fund by A&S will now be offset by enormous capital expenditures taken onto the College’s balance sheet. No other academic unit on campus would be forced to accept such an arrangement. Meanwhile, the Medical School’s supplement will balloon to $66.5 million, plus $13 million for the medical centers, $12 million for Health Sciences administration, etc. The more things change….
3) It demonstrates yet again (as if we needed more proof) that we are a poorly funded university. Despite all the talk about “UW excellence" and the slogans that ask us to “be boundless," we need to understand that the greatest threat to widespread excellence and the greatest limitation on our ambitions is the lack of support from our state legislature. What we have at the moment is selective excellence in some pockets on this campus and other units that operate under budget constraints that would be unimaginable at peer institutions. There’s no reason why UW should not be the best public university in the country by any measure, but true excellence like they have at Berkeley or Michigan is an unattainable goal given our current level of funding. How bad is the situation here? Arts and Sciences at UW has an ABB budget of $191 million. The equivalent unit at the University of Michigan has a budget of over $400 million. That’s why the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts at Michigan has over 40 top-10 departments and programs according to the US News rankings, and the fact sheet from our College of Arts and Sciences lists just a handful (and those are cherry-picked from various years and rankings). Or, let’s look at the University of Wisconsin, which is often cited here as an apocalyptic situation that we should hope to avoid here. Wisconsin also has to fund large capital projects like the construction of new classrooms and labs. How do they pay for that with Scott Walker running the state? Well, they’re about to build a new chemistry center in Madison, and this is an excerpt from a press release about their project: "What is the state's role in the project? In 2012, UW System recognized the importance of renovating existing undergraduate teaching labs in the Chemistry Building and adding a new instructional wing. In March 2013, the Governor’s office recommended UW-Madison move forward with the Chemistry Building Project's design phase, which is currently in process. As part of the 2015-17 State of Wisconsin capital budget passed in July 2015, the state has now approved $86.2 million out of the total $107.8 million requested in funding for the Chemistry Building Project.” We need to recognize that the funding situation in Washington is far worse than even the doomsday scenarios imagined in places like Wisconsin under the Walker regime or California during the depths of the recession. “UW Excellence" asks why UW would want to unionize when most elite universities don’t have faculty unions, as though not having a union was the key to success at those institutions. One answer is that none of those universities faces anything like the funding crisis that has been inflicted on the education system in this state. Many faculty members would like excellence to be a possibility for all students and faculty at this university, and we need a significant change in the funding (which is to say, the political) situation for that to happen.
4) We’ve tried to make our case to the Legislature through existing channels (e.g., the UW administration and the Faculty Senate), and that strategy has failed. This article mentions that representatives of UW have been lobbying (and begging and pleading with) the Legislature to fund this new building but to no avail. Isn’t this our relationship with the Legislature in microcosm? They tell us to produce more graduates in the STEM fields, and we do. Then we ask them to fund their own priorities, and they say, “Pay for it yourselves, suckers.” In previous years, they required UW to increase the number of graduates in the most expensive and heavily subsidized degree tracks, and they combined that demand with a huge budget cut. This year, they required us to reduce tuition and failed to provide enough money to backfill the lost revenue. Hasn’t this endless cycle of budget cuts and unfunded mandates been going on long enough? Our most recent ex-presidents were hired specifically to improve relations with the state government. Mark Emmert was a local guy who was supposed to win over the politicians with his legendary glad-handing acumen. Michael Young was a former Republican appointee who could reach across the aisle and appeal to all factions in the Legislature. Both of them left town with huge paydays for themselves and budget disasters for us. Look also at the Legislature’s actions in K-12 funding. They’ve ignored one of the strongest constitutional mandates in country (the “paramount duty” language in our constitution), they’ve disregarded a Supreme Court ruling, and now they’re sitting on a contempt citation from the Supreme Court. In comparison with that, the UW administration has an extremely weak hand (a weaker mandate and much less power or authority than the Court). Like most people on campus, I was delighted by the appointment of our new president. She’s obviously an enormous improvement over her predecessors. But haven’t we learned that the individual in that office doesn’t matter much when the current legislature is never going to provide the funding necessary to make a difference at UW? Or are we just supposed to pretend like we’ve learned nothing in the past few years, hit the reset button, and hope things turn out better this time?
The "UW Excellence" site argues that we should not unionize in part because the union has a broad political agenda, because a “union is much, much larger than we are.” Isn’t that the point?
In response to questions raised on the AAUP listserv and elsewhere about possible outcomes for a faculty union, I pass on this Q&A with Scott Pratt at the University of Oregon. Professor Pratt (Philosophy) served on the faculty union organizing committee, contract bargaining team, and (with administrators) the implementation team. He is now Dean of the Graduate School.
[Note: UO faculty unionized in 2012 jointly with the AFT and AAUP.]
1. What have been the biggest changes since UO faculty unionized, particularly for philosophy faculty?
The single biggest change at UO may be the regularization of non-tenure-track faculty. We worked out various classifications for these faculty, implemented regular performance reviews, raises, and promotions, and also a minimum salary floor (which meant raises for many in humanities fields). An immediate outcome of this was the conversion of 300 adjuncts to non-tenure-track career faculty.
Tenure-track faculty realized that a better supported, more stable contingent faculty strengthened programs and departments, particularly in relation to undergraduate education.
Philosophy was the first department to be fully unionized at UO. We realized that there was a real advantage to shared governance, and that unionization was the mechanism through which shared governance could actually be realized.
Unionization did, in fact, strengthen shared governance, particularly at the department level. Every department developed internal shared governance documents, and shared governance at the department level led to policies on workload, tenure and promotion, reviews of non-tenure-track faculty, and department designed merit review policies. The university already had a constitution, but it was unenforceable; the constitution was made part of the bargaining agreement and is now legally binding. With the support of the bargaining agreement, the University Senate is now a required part of the policy formation and review process of the University.
2. Has unionization led to increases in salary or benefits substantial enough to offset a requirement of 1.7% of salary (maxed at $95 per month) per faculty member in union dues?
Yes. At UO, tenure track faculty received average raises of 11.9% and non-tenure track faculty received an average salary increase of 12.4% (https://uonews.uoregon.edu/archive/news-release/2013/10/united-academics-ratifies-first-faculty-collective-bargaining-contract-) more than off-setting Union dues and making a significant overall improvement in faculty salaries.
The Union was interested in excellence, so there was a clear preference for merit over across-the-board increases.
3. Has unionization led to cuts in tenure-track positions (in favor of cheaper contingent labor)?
No: the opposite is true. The Union fully supports increasing the tenure-track ranks even if it means a reduction in the non-tenure track ranks. The number of tenure track faculty has increased every year since the Union was chartered.
4. Has unionization affected students’ tuition rate in any way? Has tuition gone up faster than before unionization? Or has the rate of increase slowed?
There has been no change. UO has continued to raise tuition every year. That tuition has been raised every year is the result of decisions by the administration about how to fund the costs of the university. There are many ways to fund faculty salary increases and the decision about how to do so is a function of administrative priorities.
5. Has unionization negatively impacted chairs' ability to offer retention raises?
No. Shortly after we unionized, the administration halted retention raises and claimed the union would not allow them. The opposite was in fact the case: the union wanted money to be spent on faculty, and the union and the administration have since signed an MOU that makes it clear that retention raises can be given.
6. What should I have asked you that I haven't: what else should I know?
That the UO administration generally likes the union: it has helped the administration be more transparent and helped to establish long-needed policies. 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.
This does not mean that the administration was favorable to our union before it was formed: like administrations elsewhere, they hired anti-union consultants and opposed the creation of a faculty union. But once the Union was chartered and the project of implementation was turned over to academic administration, both sides sought common ground in our shared commitment to the University’s mission.
Department of English
From: Elizabeth Sundermann <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Wed, Nov 4, 2015 at 12:00 PM
Subject: [AAUP] Unionization discussion: Lecturer Unionization - "A Modest Proposal"
To: Faculty Issues and Concerns <email@example.com>
Please allow me to weigh in on several issues raised in this thread (and others)—my statements come from my experiences as a part-time, full-time non-competitive, and now, in my eighth year at UWT, a full-time competitive lecturer hire; a faculty leader for lecturer issues (at UWT as chair of Lecturer Affairs, as a former Senate representative, as a member of the Tri-campus Lecturer Affairs committee; as a published and publishing historian, excellent teacher, and UWT Outstanding Woman and AAUP award winner for my “courage in pursuit of excellence” in large part for the outstanding amount of service I perform on my campus and in the system for faculty governance and for students. I also (like my lecturer colleagues at UWT) don’t need a tenure-track or tenured professors to “boss” or “manage” me as I am a professional and act as one.
I spent three years working with faculty governance on my campus (UWT), as well as system-wide governance in the Senate, AAUP, and Tri-campus committee. We successfully brought the plight and concerns of adjuncts (esp. full-time non-competitive lectures) to the system community, and took some steps forward. I applauded this effort, and personally benefited from it. Yet I know it was not enough: part-time issues were largely left on the table; we continue to hire in droves non-competitive full-time and part-time lecturers, and pretty obviously from comments posted on this list serve, there are still divides between different ranks, titles, and job class codes. I worry too that the proposals and recommendations put forward by administration and faculty regarding lecturer affairs are not sustainable because they are not set in legal language and contract and they will cost us much time and money as we have to rehire with a competitive search many of our existing lecturers.
Here is my respectful response to a “modest proposal” for a lecturer/adjunct union (as well as some other issues raised on the list serve)—why it won’t work, is actually a bad idea, and why we need a faculty union for the benefit of ALL faculty:
- In Washington State, the law requires that public sector faculty join a single union together, rather than separating tenured from non-tenured faculty.
- That said, information presented suggests that not only the state, but UW administration and the UW Senate called for and supported the idea of a single union for faculty.
- WE ARE ALL UW FACULTY and as the Faculty Code states, “A university is a community of scholars contributing, each according to his or her own talents and interests, to the transmission and advancement of knowledge. Because of its diversity of interests a university is a complex organization, not quite like any other in its management, which requires the understanding and good faith of people dedicated to a common purpose.”
- A faculty union will strengthen our ability to dedicate ourselves as united faculty to our common purpose[s] by helping to level-out a two- (or perhaps more) tiered system allowing all faculty to participate in faculty governance and work toward excellence in our system and in higher education.
Why? And, more specifically, why should tenure track and tenured professors care and work to support a faculty union that includes all faculty?
- Only 30% of UW’s faculty are now tenure or tenure track. 70% of UW faculty, including the “Without Tenure” (WOT) faculty who must raise their own salaries, are non-tenure, and 36% of UW non-tenured faculty are part-time. We can argue how those stats play out on different campuses in our system but the writing on the wall is clear here and across the nation: the new faculty majority does not have tenure and thus tenure protection and thus is limited in their role in faculty governance--specifically--non-tenured part-time faculty (about 36% of faculty in our system) do not have a voice in UW faculty governance because part-timers can’t vote—and the other contingent faculty are often scared to use their conscious to speak up and vote because they risk reprisals from tenured faculty and administration.
- Some argue, part-time faculty don’t really care about having a vote in faculty governance--they have another job that is their primary focus and paycheck. Yet Inside Higher Education reported on November 2, 2015, “Teaching is the primary source of income for nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of adjunct faculty members . . . [show] preliminary findings of a survey of part-time faculty members released Friday by the New Faculty Majority, a national adjunct advocacy group.”
- In fact, as adjunct/contingent faculty IS the new faculty majority, if we, as university faculty and a community, don’t act together to protect the whole faculty, we may all find ourselves on the slippery slope to a system without tenure—or other protections. What will happen to that 30% of tenure-track/tenured as their numbers continue to dwindle and/or tenure is challenged and or taken away? This is a very real possibility in the future.
- The “informed decision” website the UW administration has put forward is curious: it notes UW-Madison as a university we should look to because it is a non-unionized, R1 system:
This graphic (attached below) suggests two things to me: whoever decided to use this graphic at University of Washington is not aware of the severe troubles in the University of Wisconsin system regarding tenure (https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2015/06/01/wisconsin-faculty-incensed-motion-eliminate-tenure-state-statute and https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2015/11/03/u-wisconsin-madison-approves-faculty-backed-tenure-policy?utm_source=Inside+Higher+Ed&utm_campaign=c51186387d-DNU20151103&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_1fcbc04421-c51186387d-197754673)
The graphic does not consider what “independence” means for the faculty (majority) off the tenure-track. It also, also Ingrid Walker put it so forcefully, reveals “the UWS-centric nature of the debate as it has been represented externally often omits two campuses and the sites for which some of this inequity is becoming [most noticeably] problematic.”
This graphic does not consider what power the University of Wisconsin system (Madison and other campuses) might have if they were unionized and to avoid the quandaries they now face. (A tenure-track colleague of mine in Wisconsin is facing losing her job as her campus faces severe cuts as well as the fear of losing traditional tenure.) I would like to once again quote Ingrid Walker’s powerful statements: “consider: lecturers and contingent faculty are in a different position that you might find yourself in but for the luck of the market, the year you needed a job, or the way of state funding at the time of your hiring. We are a community.” Again, I repeat, what will happen to that 30% of tenure-track/tenured as their numbers continue to dwindle and/or tenure is challenged and or taken away? Faculty needs to support each other in these times of crises in higher education. A faculty union can do this.
Another commentator on this thread wrote: “From where I sit (as a tenured faculty member) it seems to me that the strongest argument in favor of unionizing at this time is that it would put us in a position to collectively do something to improve the situation for adjunct and contingent faculty. I'd like to hear more, though, about what specifically we could do and how unionizing will help.”
First, to respond to another commentator, it would help tenured faculty to stop feeling like they might, sort of, be “the ‘bosses’ of adjuncts (et al.)” or “their ‘managers’” or in “relationships of significantly mismatched power” by giving those without tenure a stronger voice and more power, respect, and protection in faculty affairs and faculty governance. Furthermore, SEIU has been leading a national movement to organize contingent faculty, with campaigns in dozens of cities including quite recently the University of Chicago. It has made a difference: At Tufts University, contingent faculty negotiated salary increases ranging from 22%-40% in their first union contract and will be making a minimum of $7,300 per course in 2016, not including benefits. Part-time contingent faculty in SEIU are making a national demand for a minimum wage of $15,000 per course in total compensation, including benefits. One goal of the bold demands is to call national attention to a two-tiered faculty workforce, and declining institutional support for instruction.
Finally, again, for part-time faculty, in particular, being part of a faculty union will mean that they can have a voice in faculty governance—which they do not have now in the UW system because they don’t have a vote!
As a lecturer who has risen up the ranks, worked well with faculty governance, and supports all faculty working for our common purpose for excellence in our system and higher ed: a faculty union is our way forward in these troubled times for higher education. Let’s do it together.
* * * * *
ELIZABETH 'LIBI' SUNDERMANN, PhD
Lecturer | History & Global Studies
Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences
UW AAUP Executive Board
University of Washington | Tacoma
I followed up with some folks at Rutgers to see how a faculty union has affected faculty recruitment and retention. I do not pretend to have conducted a representative survey. I just contacted the five colleagues I know there.
No one could think of a case where a job candidate decided not to join the Rutgers faculty because it was unionized. As one colleague put it: "If anything the Union is a positive in terms of recruitment and retention. Junior faculty find the fact that they can seek help from the union should their tenure process prove problematic reassuring.”
Thanks to Professor Lalic, we already have the Rutgers article on retention offers (article XXIII at <http://rutgersaaup.org/contracts/full-time-faculty-tenured-tenure-track>). I contacted Professor Rudy Bell, former chair of the History Department at Rutgers, to find out how the article works in practice. In a nutshell, this is what happens at Rutgers, based on my correspondence with Professor Bell:
1. A faculty member lets the department chair or a university administrator know of an outside offer (or an imminent outside offer).
2. With this information, the chair seeks the advice of the department's tenured faculty and writes a department recommendation.
3. The university administration considers the department's recommendation and uses its discretion to adjust the faculty member’s salary out of cycle.
4. The university administration provides the union with copies of the relevant documentation—evidence of an (imminent) outside offer or evidence of unusual professional achievement, the department’s recommendation, the dean’s recommendation, and the current and adjusted salary—and waits 15 working days before implementing the salary adjustment.
Professor Bell, who headed up a study of retention offers at Rutgers over a ten year period, says cautiously and optimistically that "things are working well." In his words, here is the main difference between the practice at Rutgers and at most universities: "the Union knows and can analyze patterns of out-of-cycles across all campuses and departments . . . we did not find patterns of 'favoritism' but we have located units that award out-of-cycles relatively more frequently than other units, for a variety of reasons. I also believe that the process of partial sunlight due to Union monitoring contributes to a little more fairness all around.”
Department of History
From: Bill Lyne <firstname.lastname@example.org<mailto:email@example.com>>
Date: Sun, Nov 1, 2015 at 7:58 PM
Subject: [AAUP] Union Stuff
To: UW AAUP <firstname.lastname@example.org<mailto:email@example.com>>
Dear UW Colleagues,
As an outsider, I am reluctant to contribute to the lively and interesting discussion regarding faculty unionization at UW. But as someone who has been deeply involved in four-year university faculty unionization since it has come to Washington, I thought it might be useful to clarify a few of the myths and realities of unionization that have been topics of discussion on this list.
Representation Fee. Representation Fee, or what is often called “fair share,” is what non-members pay to help support the cost of the benefits of union representation that accrue to all faculty. For four-year faculty in Washington, representation fee is an option that must be negotiated in the local contract. Both the Board of Regents and the faculty union must agree to representation fee before the union can collect it. For most of the time that the four United Faculty of Washington State campuses have been unionized, we have not charged representation fee. Two years ago, we instituted representation fee at Western. This was actually initiated by the faculty, over the objections of our union staff. The majority of faculty felt that all faculty should share in the costs of collective bargaining that had brought them many, many benefits (over 30% total salary increases, protected teaching load, professional leave funded at 100%, increased tenure track hiring, academic freedom protection). At Western, only tenure line faculty and Senior Lecturers (Non-tenure track faculty with over five years service and multi-year contracts) pay representation fee. More contingent non-tenure track faculty do not. At Central, Eastern, and Evergreen there is no representation fee and non-members continue to enjoy the benefits of collective bargaining without paying anything. Again, representation fee is a local decision that is made by faculty and that must be bargained.
Dues. It is true that the dues structure of most major unions were created for workforces that are not nearly as stratified and diverse as a university faculty, which can lead them to be somewhat regressive. At Western, we changed that, creating a new dues structure that charges people by their salary and not their rank of percentage of appointment. You can find that dues structure here:
This more progressive structure came about through the hard work of our local union president, who was able to get the new structure approved by the boards of our two statewide affiliates (the Washington Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers Washington). It was a bureaucratic hassle, but politically it was relatively easy to achieve. Our ability to make this change came back to the fact that unions are democratic and governed by the members.
Political Activity. UW faculty are currently represented in Olympia by a member of the Council of Faculty Representatives, which is funded entirely by the administrations of Washington’s universities. All of the CFR representatives I have known over the years have been very talented and dedicated people, but their influence in Olympia is virtually zero. They are not armed with either of the two things that really matter in politics—money and votes. Most of our administrations’ influence in Olympia derives from Regents and Trustees, who tend to be relatively well off people who have taken an interest in politics and politicians. Over the last few years, public four-year higher education has become far more visible in Olympia, and this has coincided with the advent of UW Impact (an alumni organizing group run by the UW Alumni Association), Western Advocates (another alumni organizing group that is a joint project of the Western faculty union and the Western Alumni Association), and the United Faculty of Washington State (a faculty union affiliated with larger unions and their Political Action Committees). UFWS is the only voice for faculty that is completely run and funded by faculty. We create our own legislative agenda and we receive tremendous support from our statewide and national affiliates for that agenda. Yes, the larger unions have other political agendas that not every member agrees with (kind of like every other collective enterprise), but our specific agenda has been strongly supported.
Department Chairs. RCW 41.76.005 defines members of the bargaining unit this way:
"Faculty" means employees who, at a public four-year institution of higher education, are designated with faculty status or who perform faculty duties as defined through policies established by the faculty governance system, excluding casual or temporary employees, administrators, confidential employees, graduate student employees, postdoctoral and clinical employees, and employees subject to chapter 41.06<http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=41.06> or 41.56<http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=41.56> RCW.
Department chairs are members of the bargaining unit at all four of the UFWS institutions. At Western, the administration challenged chairs as part of the bargaining unit and there was a hearing before the Public Employees Relations Commission. PERC rejected the administration claim. You can read that decision here:
Unless department chairs have a lot more genuine power at UW than they do at Western, I imagine such a challenge from the UW administration would also be rejected.
I hope this information helps.
Western Washington University
United Faculty of Washington State
From: Amy Hagopian <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Tue, Oct 20, 2015 at 9:51 AM
Subject: [AAUP] Amy Hagopian addresses DUES questions posed on list server
To: Faculty Issues and Concerns <email@example.com>
I’m happy so many of us are engaging in meaningful dialogue on our valued AAUP list server regarding faculty union organizing.
Let me answer some of the frequently asked questions on the topic of dues.
Who are these Union Bosses imposing dues on UW faculty?
To feel comfortable voting for any union, and SEIU 925 in particular, we have to understand that the union is US. Most objections to unionization are based on the notion, fed by employers and anti-union organizations such as the Freedom Foundation, that unions are outside, 3rd parties that impose rules on hapless workers, and that Unions = Union bosses, not union members. To the contrary, even with faculty governance, joining SEIU 925 will dramatically democratize the workplace for UW faculty. Not only will it extend democratic rights to faculty who can't participate in the Faculty Senate, it will provide an independent venue for faculty to debate, decide and organize around what we think it right for ourselves, our students and our beloved university.
Are dues reasonable? is the burden of financially supporting our union distributed fairly?
Historically, most unions had flat rate dues systems - fixed dollar amounts per month, sometimes graduated by income bracket to accommodate lower paid workers. That is because, originally, most union workers were paid the same wage, with only a brief break-in period before reaching the top of the scale. Flat rate dues were also necessary because there was no employer check-off. Workers self-paid their own dues, making a percentage-based system too complicated to administer. AAUP membership dues (for those few of you who actually belong to this valuable organization) are on a sliding scale. We understand most SEIU Locals now use percentage dues systems because they are fairer given the more complicated salary structures, and more feasible with employer check-off.
What’s the history and future of the dues structure?
SEIU 925 was founded in 2001 as a merger between various WA State SEIU Locals with different dues structures - some percentage-based, some flat rate. A Dues Committee, comprised of members, recommended a new, unified dues structure, which was voted on and ratified by the membership. The approved recommendation was for 1.7% dues with a dues cap that rises $5 every year - in 2015 it's $95, in 2016 it will be $100, and so on.
The reason for the phase-in is that the newly-merged SEIU 925 had some highly paid members who came from one of the flat-rate Locals (for instance, public defense attorneys). For them, going to a strict percentage system would have meant a doubling of union dues overnight. The Dues Committee believed that a fair compromise was to raise the dues cap over time, eventually becoming so high as to be meaningless. It was also important to make a proposal that would pass by majority vote and not alienate significant portions of the membership.
Who decides what the dues will be?
The main point of this history, beyond explaining the current dues structure, is that SEIU 925 is a democratic organization where the members decide. The Dues Committee can decide what to recommend to the membership for a vote. Once UW faculty become part of SEIU 925, we will be part of those democratic deliberations as well.
Invite us to your faculty meeting or an informal gathering to talk more. Or just sign a card and be done with it!
Amy Hagopian, PhD
Director, Community Oriented Public Health Practice
I have followed the discussion on the AAUP listserve with close attention, and with more than a little disappointment and dismay. It appears that the most prevalent questions and concerns are, almost transparently, driven by uncertainties about how individual salaries might be decided, or on even less transparent issues of reputation, class consciousness (are weworkers or are we professionals), and either gross ignorance of what is presently the case, or concern based on experience in various capacities where the commentator has been directly involved in issues of salaries, raises, and so on. The scattering effect of these and other questions reflect something that all of us ought to know: while all other campuses in the state system have already unionized, the UW has not, in no small part because it presents a serious organizing problem. AAUP and AFT, according to what I have heard, decided the case was too complicated (and too costly) a challenge, while SEIU was at least willing to take it on. That tells us at least as much about ourselves as it does about the union, and is, indirectly, a good point for examining a fundamental problem that almost all of the posts to this board have raised.
We simply have not taken any credible measure of the state in which we find ourselves now, with even less reflection on either how it came about, or whether it reflects a desirable condition or not. I joined the faculty at UW in 1977, so I am now starting my 39th year here. During that time, I have been involved in starting, directing, fund-raising, planning, hiring and firing, in five units, while serving I don't know how many terms in the Faculty Senate, and its committees & councils, plus university task forces, review panels, and other official groups with concrete responsibilities. From that perspective, I have no complaints to make, nor even to intimate, that arise from my own treatment here. My career here has certainly included active participation in 'shared governance,' but sufficiently so to recognize that the phrase is not particularly felicitous as a description. What it means in most cases is that the agenda, the focus, the actual work is already laid out, and my share, as a fully employed faculty member is, in certain obvious respects, not my job. That does not mean that the work is insignificant: it is just that it already has a structure, determined before the fact--and that a great deal of it is simply not open for debate.
In a usefully ironic book, The Academic Tribes, Hazard Adams noted as one of the 'antinomies' affecting university life the seemingly irresolvable opposition in which the administration thinks that the faculty are employees of the university, while the faculty thinks that they are the university. But the structure in which we are operating is not that close to the University of Konisberg, where Professor Kant recognized both the importance of the issue of power that he urged must be claimed by the faculty, and the logical perplexity of an antinomy that practically limits it. At issue is not just a question of scale: the 18th century university had but a fraction of the operations or resources of a contemporary research university. But we still have the same problem, the same tension, and some of the same limits. If the main business of the university is teaching and learning, research and inquiry, the means includes all the apparatus of social and fiscal power by which it can be implemented. That places a severe burden on the faculty, who may be the masters of their classrooms or the principals of their laboratory, but who may not have the slightest idea how the budget is managed or even how the copy machine is paid for.
But without a faculty, there would not be a university except perhaps as a holding pen; but if the faculty does not actively and intelligently understand the practical conditions and constraints of how a university actually operates, somebody else will manage the holding pen. If faculty are to have a share in governance, they have to step up to a significant change of perspective: what is good for the individual, the particular discipline, the focused research operation requires a much broader range of conversation, argument, and learning. That, for decades if not longer, has not been a regular part of the 'professional' training of prospective faculty members, especially where it impinges critically on the ability of the master of the classroom, the principal in the research laboratory to do what they do in the first place. The power dynamic is obvious, just as it is obviously unequal, particularly when faculty members are quite passive about who sets the agenda, and under what conditions and constraints. While it would be too blunt to say that the power the faculty has lost we have given away, the point is that we are complicit in what we complain of because we don't organize but go it alone, just as we exercise our own opinions without the constraint of thinking through the concrete actuality without which we wouldn't even have a platform for broadcasting those opinions at all.
Having experienced a first tenure track job at a very wealthy private university, thinking exceedingly well of itself as one of the 'small Ivies', I worked in company with colleagues who sometimes could barely forgive themselves for not being at Harvard or Yale, and were not infrequently vastly more concerned with their own reputational status (and yearly raises) than just about anything else that might have fallen under the rubric of their professional duty or their calling. At that university, as not infrequently here, the trajectory of aspiration was to get a competing offer from a more prestigious university, or at least one deemed 'comparable' that was willing to pay a substantially larger salary. But the quality of a university is thereby in play, usually not to its advantage, by practices that respond only to the gaming of the system, usually because there is no system that does not put at a disadvantage those who don't enter onto this treacherous playing field.
I would say that this is not only a better university than the one I left, but a healthier one, not least of all because we do at leasthave a faculty senate, and finally, a formally appointed President who actually does have an idea of what a university is and what it (might be) for, and who has not, so far as I know, treated her offices at this university as a leaping off point for better pay, more power, or a degree of greater visibility. In the progression of relative disasters immediately antecedent to this presidential appointment, only one, Lee Huntsman, appeared to me to come even close to recognizing sufficiently enough to be acutely alarmed, at what was happening to this university, already very well advanced at the time of his appointment in November, 2002. Because he proceeded without any evident anxiety about what he was doing, Huntsman would tell anyone who asked that the salary system of the University of Washington was all but irreparably broken, and that our budgetary situation was far worse than anyone realized--and had to be fixed. The symptoms, though complicated, were not particularly obscure--and the immediate risk was that instead of treating the University as an institution of learning and teaching, all the comparisons were to its 'business model'. That process has continued like a house on fire, and even with promising changes, it is by no means contained.
The first two presidents under whom I served were in office for a total of 26 years (5 and 21 years respectively--Hogness & Gerberding), but since then, we are now on our 6th president, including interim appointments, in 20 years. Thus when Bob Mugeraer expresses his concern that resisting a union is a way to resist the increasing corporatization of the university, he is about 30 years too late, and gives too little notice of the irony that the situation which makes the union question compelling is precisely that without collective bargaining, we simple accede to a condition that is already pretty much a fait accompli. We operate, in fact, in a climate that is already so corporatized that we may not even recognize the extent of that effect. If we think only of our individual circumstances, or worry about how raises would be won or granted, reviews carried out, or contracts granted if there were a union, we just go blank. If all the people who teach here, or are engaged in research, were asked about the terms of their employment, including how were they hired, evaluated, rewarded, the outcome would most resemble the parlor game of rumors.
What has happened already? First, there are far fewer professors on tenure track and vastly more adjuncts, teaching assistants, part time lecturers. In the departments in which I hold appointments, when I arrived, there were 84 tenure track faculty members. Today, there are, depending on how one counts fractional appointments, about 45. In some areas, departments are sufficiently reduced to be on the verge of implosion--and they are not highly specialized or exotic disciplines, but academic and professional pursuits that are densely and intimately connected with the intellectual health of other departments. How did this come about? We accept a model of competition and commercialization in which the intellectual questions just vanish in the pressures of budgetary exigency. We may, individually, be dead set against this intellectually and pragmatically reductive response, as a failure of 'administrators' (a role in which many of us from time to time operate) to treat normative questions as such. Instead, we get sound bites about 'core values' and clichés about 'innovation'.
To treat either of those notions seriously, we need a faculty, not merely a collection of really smart and ambitious individuals. The imperative to organize is linked to implementing an institutional focus for advocacy for higher education. If we get stalled on the individual case, in the aggregate we may just end up behaving more stupidly, worrying about the shame of being regarded as 'workers' while ignoring the much greater problem of the institution that depends on all of us as employees. If we don't attend to that, we imperil the entire enterprise. For many years, not in the future, something in the range of 65 to 70% of all undergraduate credit hours are the direct responsibility of graduate assistants, adjuncts, or other temporary teachers. In this situation, we have protected the privilege of tenure by decisions--not that we made them, but to which we have assented--by creating situations in which the profession of teaching, to say nothing of the enterprise of research fails to take into account that the first practical consequence of tenure is continuous employment, and not "academic freedom." We have, in brief, a giganticlabor problem.
It is not that tenure is manifestly fading away, but faculties themselves. In that light, concerns about whether or not the collegial practices by which faculty counts and appointment allocations might continue ('after all' one might say, 'they worked pretty wellfor me') come pretty close to being beside the point. There is, all our admirable manners and good practices notwithstanding, no practically effective voice for the faculty that is not already firmly fixed within a structure that constitutes the status quo. The bottom line for the state budget is that we need more full time faculty members, not as stand-ins or temps, and to make that argument takes a degree of coherence and actual access to power that we simply have not had.
The gigantic irony is that collective bargaining, on contracts, on employment, on processes and procedures is exactly what we need to preserve the ground conditions under which either education or research is possible in the first place. As admirable as our Senate is (and I mean that), surely no one supposes that it is set up to be your advocate if in your department or unit practices are somehow amiss, or still less to be an advocate for you if there has been injustice. The members of the Senate may be, to a person, in favor of justice and line up behind rectitude and thoughtful management, but that leaves a gigantic gap in what may need to be done to fix a problem that arose because there was no contract, or even any focused discussion of what it ought to include or exclude.
Anyone who has spent their entire career at this university, without a union, may have a sentimental attachment to what we do now--or perhaps not so much--without being able to clarify what having union representation might accomplish. It is not just the benefits for the current (and much depleted) ranks of tenure track faculty, but the university, not as a corporation, but as an institution of higher learning. So too, it is not a question of finding the perfect union to represent us: we are, in this respect, a very difficult case. As already noted, some unions wouldn't even try a task with some similarity to herding cats. But I do not believe that we unable to raise the level of discourse about these issues, including more than the topics about which we may worry.
I have signed a union card, without trepidation or worry, since the steps to a really full and engaged discussion are barely begun, and it is a long way to go before actually taking a vote. At least some among the contributions to this discussion make the essential point that if we so choose, it is our union, and we will have a voice in the structure and scope of what the agreement includes. If we think what we are doing now is sufficient, then we should suspect that we are already in the corporate camp, body and soul. But the concrete point of organizing is precisely to recognize that without it, no matter how loud we may individually speak, the faculty remains without a voice. It is not in any way a choice to have a union or have a faculty senate: it is that the former strengthens the latter. So too, if we recognize that funding for higher education is woefully inadequate, a union would not be an impediment to administrators seeking it in Olympia, but a source of very much needed leverage. The politics of the situation are messy, but inescapable, but that should not prevent us from seeing through at least some of the ideological fog.
Many of the objections to unionizing that have appeared here follow in the main the discourse of the 'right to work' movement (if it is not more apposite to call it a conspiracy)--which is through and through a corporate creation, sold with considerable shrewdness to workers who don't want to pay dues, just as they may not want to pay taxes. But the hook is they are thereby implicated in the elimination of their jobs, while their contributions as employees are diminished and their actual agency in determining essential conditions of their work are surrendered to those whose job it is to manage them. 'Trust us, the system is fine as it is,' but do not ask, do not ask, to have a voice and a vote on issues of larger institutional purpose and strategy. You will not be at the table, and you may not even know where the table is.
While I do look forward to the coming debate, the most urgent questions are not those of individual interest to us, but how we see the purposes and effects of education and research, for our undergraduates, our graduate students, the colleagues whom we sometimes do not even acknowledge as such, though they do the same work as we do with disgraceful pay and no prospects for the future. The costs are already right before us: it is no future danger, as we are already within the structure of a corporate environment. If we do not organize, there is little reason to expect that an institutional model built to generate private wealth will be turned around by good collegial manners. The coming debate will depend on our ability to recognize the extent to which we have already allowed our agency as professionals and professors to be diminished, and to recognize that the prospect of organizing so as to give force and focus to our collective voice is in the best interests of the university and its constituents, whether they are here or spread across the globe. It is hard to imagine a debate of greater consequence for this university, nor one that will be harder to manage and keep in focus.
Professor, English and Comparative Literature
This listserv has seen some email traffic recently concerning SEIU 775 and SEIU 925 and their “approach” to organizing and representing their members. The activities of SEIU 925 is of particular interest, as it is providing staff support to the Faculty Forward effort, the movement by a growing cadre of UW faculty to form a union to strengthen our voice in shaping the future of this great, public institution, the University of Washington.
You may have read or may soon read about a lawsuit by the state Attorney General against SEIU 775 concerning reporting of certain in-kind and monetary contributions. This involved contributions from SEIU 775 to its own PAC; the law requires such contributions to be reported, SEIU 775 did not do so properly (the PAC reported receipt of this support), and is cooperating with the AG to fix the problem.
Reporting political financing is important – it’s the least we can do in the face of the Citizens United deluge – and shouldn’t be taken likely. This “violation” looks, however, like a technical issue, not a matter of a union trying to hide what it’s doing.
I’d like to point out a couple of things that sets this issue in context and as backdrop for Faculty Forward’s work with SEIU 925.
First, the suit against SEIU 775 is one result of a concerted campaign of attacks on public unions. This is true nationally and, notably, in Washington state, led by a right-wing group called the Freedom Foundation. The Foundation is quite open about its goal to “bankrupt” public unions, especially SEIU. It has supported many right-wing causes over the past 20 years, including requirements for super-majorities to increase state revenues, and its relatively new CEO, Tom McCabe, appears to be doubling down on these causes.
Second, as the Olympia article in the previous link suggests, we may hear of a similar suit against SEIU 925. The Freedom Foundation is out to destroy public unions, it knows about the Faculty Forward movement at UW, and it will do what it can to hamper our effort to unionize, including discrediting the union that is supporting our work.
I invite you to join our movement to reclaim the integrity of our profession, to preserve the “publicness” of our university, and to restore the state’s commitment to funding public higher education.
University of Washington School of Public Health
A number of commenters to this list, as part of their opposition to faculty unionization, have argued simultaneously that representing the interests of such a diverse faculty is impossible, and that the faculty are already adequately represented by the Faculty Senate.
Aaron Katz pointed out a fundamental contradiction in this thinking in his post on Saturday: the Faculty Senate already claims to represent a diverse faculty. So if people truly believe that UW faculty are too diverse to be represented by a single body, or that Ana Mari should make decisions for them, they should acknowledge their opposition not just to unionization but to shared governance at the UW.
For those who are not so pessimistic and actually believe that faculty can and should unite across disciplinary boundaries to participate in meaningful shared governance, it is worth considering some current limitations to shared governance at the UW:
1) It excludes at least one third of all faculty at UW's branch campuses
Socalled part-time lecturers are currently excluded from meaningful shared governance at the UW. This may be less problematic on the UW Seattle campus, where the use of graduate student labor has been more important than adjunct faculty labor in teaching lower division courses (thus prompting graduate student employees to unionize a decade ago). But on the Bothell and Tacoma campuses, where a majority of faculty are not on the tenure track, and a majority of non-tenure track faculty are part-time lecturers, the limits of shared governance at the UW are pretty obvious.
2) Do faculty have meaningful shared governance over the UW budget?
Collective bargaining is, at its best, a means for employees to compel employers to share budget data with them in a timely manner, and to then negotiate in good faith over how to allocate resources with employees based on that data. This is more than the circulation of budgets for comments that can be ignored (making people feel "heard" without granting them meaningful power). It is a formal, legally binding process for setting budget priorities that respect professional standards in various fields. At universities, collective bargaining is important to have when times are tight-- so that faculty can present a collective response to fiscal austerity instead of acting through departments that are played against each other in a fight for scarce resources, and so faculty can resist de-professionalization when administrators seek to hire adjunct faculty or develop online courses outside of departmental oversight. And collective bargaining is important to have when times are flush-- to ensure an equitable and sustainable distribution of resources.
The current UW faculty code is technically legally binding, but it is also has a number of weaknesses, not the least of which being that it is written in a way that allows the administration to freeze faculty wages (see Storti v UW). So the question I have for UW faculty who value shared governance is: why would you not want to have a more powerful, legally binding role in shaping how the UW allocates its resources?
California State University-Long Beach
Active member, California Faculty Association (associated with NEA, SEIU, and AAUP)
Former UW-Seattle graduate student and UW-Bothell lecturer
A case where being unionized would have been helpful.
When I was negotiating for a position as an assistant professor at UW, I made sure my offer letter described the position as a “state line” position that would be tenure track. About two years after I started, I learned that I was not in fact in a tenure-track position and my chair had no intention of putting me in a tenure track position. This story has a happy ending, as I am now a full Professor (in another department), but it took about three years to resolve the situation. A union would have helped in a number of ways:
- I had no one to act as my advocate in the process. For example, in the mediation organized by the ombudsman my Dean had a lawyer present but I was not allowed to have a lawyer or anyone else accompany me. Under unionization, I would have had at least a union representative.
- No one could advise me on whether the administration was truthfully representing the rules. A union could have provided this service and thus help me protect my rights.
- My chair saw me as powerless and disposable. If I had a union behind me, perhaps he would not have tried to get away with reneging on his offer.
- During the time it took to resolve the issues I was vulnerable to retaliation for reporting the chair’s violation of his offer. A union could offer some protections against retaliation. In its stead, the Dean appointment a committee with a mandate to protect me from my chair. The Dean acted honorably, but we should not have to rely on anyone’s honor to protect our rights.
Let me stress that my faculty colleagues across campus stood behind me and stuck their necks out to help me. The Dean and his staff also came through. But fairness should not be contingent on individuals’ sense of right and wrong. Fair treatment should be guaranteed by contract, with clear procedures for dealing with potential violations.
It seems one of the issues on this AAUP list server is “why SEIU?” Why not another union affiliation?
I joined the AAUP board about three years ago. It was a relatively “new” board, and we started our tenure with a strategic planning process. We also conducted a faculty survey to ensure our planning priorities were in line with campus faculty priorities. Exploring union organizing featured prominently in our plan, confirmed by the survey, but we had very few resources to pursue that.
After our last round of board elections in fall of 2014, we conducted another planning retreat, followed by another survey, and union again emerged as important. In the Spring of 2015, SEIU leadership came to the AAUP board and presented a “plan to win” a union organizing campaign. Board members were intrigued, but we figured if SEIU had a plan to win, why not AAUP or AFT or some other union?
To that end, we invited national AAUP leaders to come to Seattle to explore the idea. AAUP staff told us they had no resources to dedicate to our effort. AAUP collective bargaining units around the country are typically at smaller colleges, where faculty can organize their own unions without staff support. There are not many large comprehensive public universities represented by AAUP-sponsored unions (Rutgers in NJ is an exception, but even they ended up partnering with AFT). Similarly, AFT declined to support the effort with resources.
As you might imagine, organizing a union on a campus with 6000 faculty across dozens of schools and departments is a daunting undertaking. Staff support is necessary to conduct a credible campaign and reach everyone. SEIU was willing and able to make the investment.
AAUP board members aired all our skepticism and concerns in several frank conversations with SEIU leaders. We ended up with a list of principles to guide the relationship between AAUP and SEIU.
SEIU wasn’t just the most pragmatic choice, it was also the most aspirational choice. The crisis facing higher education was not created at the UW, so it cannot be fixed at the UW either, no matter how strong our faculty governance systems. There are big, systemic problems that require a broad faculty movement and organization across many universities targeting state governments. We must stand against the rising tide of corporatization undermining all American society, not just higher education. SEIU is a key player in that national movement, in both faculty organizing and more broadly.
We are grateful to the union members across the state whose dues contributed to the SEIU capacity to help us organize at the University of Washington. We hope to pay that forward to the next workforce that needs to be unionized.
Without an organized union, the UW will always fare poorly when the state legislature distributes resources. The union gives us the capacity to get their attention. We do this out of LOYALTY to our institution, not out of a concern that the administration doesn’t have our best interests at heart.
Sign your card and send it in today!
Amy Hagopian, PhD
University of Washington School of Public Health