Montana State faculty union decertification attempt.

The MSU decertification group’s post is here. Their proposal is to replace the new union (and its dues) with a strong faculty senate.

UO’s faculty senate was gutted by Frohnmayer, with Lariviere, Pernsteiner and Berdahl finishing it off as an effective institution. Rob Kyr has tried to rebuild it, but at the moment the Senate does not even have one staff person. There’s a search for a $33K-$38K junior OA to keep up the website and the minutes, but the hiring and firing will be at Dave Hubin’s pleasure, not Rob Kyr’s. Sorry, but this is ridiculous – this should be a $75K job for an experienced person with hiring and firing done by the Senate Exec. Add another $50K or so for legal advice, etc.

Meanwhile Hubin spends a fair amount of time trying to stymie Senate actions that his bosses don’t like. Randy Geller won’t let the Senate get independent legal advice. President Gottfredson will not sign the UO Constitution, and he ignores the Senate’s existing power if it might cause trouble for the athletic department’s drug plan. Interesting priorities. The UO administration is stonewalling even the most basic information requests from President Kyr – stuff like when have the executive administrators been reviewed? What grades do Lorraine Davis’s “special admit” athletes get? That’s right, they won’t let the faculty see student grades, which in some cases have been assigned by athletic department employees. WTF? The Senate set up a Transparency Committee to try and improve access to information – so Hubin gutted their reforms and set up his own Committee, packed with compliant administrators. Tim Gleason – really? And remember the 2000 Senate White Paper on faculty salary increases? 12 years later, we’re still at the bottom of the AAU.

The TT faculty that I talk with signed union card check cards reluctantly, because they saw that the administrative efforts to destroy shared governance made it our last best hope. Contempt for the faculty has been part of Johnson Hall’s DNA for a long time now. Gottfredson hasn’t fired a single one of Frohnmayer’s administrators. Hasn’t even taken resignations. Lorraine Davis is still on his payroll – could things be any more absurd?

I encourage everyone to read the MSU post above, which I found on the anti-union website, here. It’s serious stuff. Then ask yourself what would it take to rebuild shared governance to the extent that our Senate could effectively negotiate with the UO administration about salaries and basic academic quality issues like student faculty ratios. Remember Bean’s academic plan numbers? He lied. For years. Never got called on it. Remember the furlough town hall? How Doug Blandy got appointed VPAA? Then ask yourself if Jim Bean, Randy Geller, and the rest of those $200K-$350K VP’s are going to give up all that money and power voluntarily. Nope.

So then ask President Gottfredson if he’s going to clean house. What, you’ve never had a talk with President Gottfredson? He’s never asked you over to hear what your views on what UO needs to improve? He hasn’t been to a single faculty meeting? He hasn’t sat down with your department head and asked what his first priorities should be? Isn’t that all just a little odd?

Sorry folks, we’ve tried shared governance at UO. It failed. JH has no interest in UO’s academic excellence. They are here for the pay and perks. They are failed academics who prefer football to classrooms. Now they want an independent UO board to consolidate their power. We need to fight these people and get back as much power as we can for the faculty, and that takes a union. 11/29/2012.

PS: Don’t take this to mean that I’m not skeptical of faculty unions. And sign that membership card, so you can be a voting skeptic like me!

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10 Responses to Montana State faculty union decertification attempt.

  1. Anonymous says:

    Very nicely put. We truly have a disgraceful administration. (Bring this up again when we are encouraging our first strike?)

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  2. Anonymous says:

    Correction: UO does not have a faculty senate. Our senate has students, who have their own senate, plus other groups. But the UC system that Gottfredson comes from does have academic senates that are composed of faculty members and maintain academic excellence in collaboration with their administrations. Copy them, and let the union advocate for salary increases.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Excellent point. The composition of the senate makes for a lot of back and forth about matters that are low on the priority list. Could this be part of the cause of the general impression that the senate is ineffective?

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    • UO Matters says:

      The FAC has very different composition and, having been on it for two years (not this year though), I can say without breaking my oath of confidentiality that it is has been even less effective than the Senate. Anyone heard a peep from the FAC this year about addressing UO’s problems? Nope. The issue is not the UO faculty or our faculty institutions, it’s the people in JH and our lack of power and resources to deal with them. The union has power and resources: lobbyists and lawyers.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    The sad thing: your colleagues who reluctantly signed union cards, they’re not going to get governance back. The union will maybe manage to secure raises and regular COLA, and hopefully improve the situation for our NTTF, but their dream that it will bring back respect for faculty, broad faculty input, shared governance, etc.–deep disappointment is what they have in store.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    Wow, so the union’s going to help ensure that Gottfredson cleans house? I can’t wait for this union to start keeping all of its promises. When does the lobbying in Salem for more resources to the UO start, for example?

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    • Anonymous says:

      I don’t know. Join the union and help. Or just keep whining about things on this blog, if you think that will work better.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I thought the money that is going to be deducted from my paycheck would be funding those promises. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

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    • Anonymous says:

      For the 25% of tenure-track faculty who are excluded from the bargaining unit because they have succeeded at getting competitive research grants and supervising graduate students, it is not possible to “join the union and help”. So that suggestion is a little weak, though often repeated at these pages. The ridiculous, unworkable division of tenure-related faculty should be a major obstacle to any progress at the bargaining table. United Academics has not mentioned this problem publicly, though we have to hope they are concerned about it. One solution would be to take TTF out of the “faculty union” and start over. That would make a lot more sense than the current divide-and-conquer strategy.

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  5. Frank Stahl says:

    UO Matters points out that Prexy has not signed the Constitution. The implication of this remark is that Mike must sign it in order for it to be in effect. But that’s not right. I suspect that I created confusion when I withdrew a Motion from the November Senate Meeting. At the time, I was mistakenly thinking that Mike’s signature was needed to activate the Constitution. Following that meeting, I recovered a current State Board Policy that shows how wrong I was:

    State Board of Higher Education: Board Policies, page 2-6

    “(7) Each institution is authorized to formulate a statement of internal governance expressed as a constitution or in another appropriate format which will be ratified as the official statement of internal governance by the relevant institutional body or bodies and the institution president. All statements of internal governance will be consistent with statutes governing the Oregon State Board of Higher Education, the Oregon University System, and any applicable Board rules, policies, or IMD.

    (8) The statement of internal governance is subject to review and amendment when a new institution president assumes office or at other such times provided for in the internal governance statement. Any amendment to the statement of internal governance will be subject to ratification by the relevant institutional body or bodies and the institution president.”

    God knows how Randy would read that Policy, but those familiar with English will understand that the Constitution belongs to the University, and Mike doesn’t need to sign it for it to be operative.
    Now, how does that bear on the issue of the viability of Shared Governance? We lack a real test. Such a test will occur when the Senate passes Legislation, Resolution or Policy that is not responded to by Prexy in the manner prescribed by the Constitution. Should Prexy ignore his Constitutional duty, a Motion of No Confidence will certainly be introduced in the Senate.
    So what good is that? If Prexy has no aims higher than the Presidency of the UO, makes little difference much unless the State hires a less authoritarian Chancellor. On the other hand, if Prexy envisions an eventual move to a more prestigious university, he will not want even one such vote on his record.
    UO Matters should exercise more patience before promoting the Union. We need a little more time to know whether Shared Governance, so abused by Dave, can be restored by faithful exercise of our UO Constitution. As indicated above, the real test will come when the Senate puts a hot potato on Prexy’s plate. You got one? If so, bring it to the Senate.
    For another explication of this view, scroll to my Comment of November 18 at http://uounionforum.wordpress.com/2012/11/15/were-here-to-talk-about-the-union-whats-the-point/#comments

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