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The Mechanics of Higher Education Unionism — What a Union Can Offer Engineering Faculty by Oscar D. Crisalle Distinguished Teaching Scholar and Professor,

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Presentation on theme: "The Mechanics of Higher Education Unionism — What a Union Can Offer Engineering Faculty by Oscar D. Crisalle Distinguished Teaching Scholar and Professor,"— Presentation transcript:

1 The Mechanics of Higher Education Unionism — What a Union Can Offer Engineering Faculty by Oscar D. Crisalle Distinguished Teaching Scholar and Professor, University of Florida Vice President, United Faculty of Florida, UF Chapter (UFF-UF) University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign,

2 2 What is a faculty union?  It is the independent voice of the faculty Has the force of the law behind it Comparison with a Faculty Senate  Similarity: Committed members  Differences: Includes administrators (not independent) and has only advisory powers (extrajudicial)  Does the administration know more than the faculty about higher education? No! A union empowers faculty to effectively participate in all relevant decision-making processes.

3 3 What does the union do?  Bargains a legally binding contract Terms and conditions of employment Academic freedom Intellectual property  Ensures procedural fairness Grievances -> Binding arbitration by a neutral party  Fights for higher education State and national levels

4 4 Terms and conditions of employment  Fair and well-defined rules and procedures voted by the faculty Tenure and promotion Performance evaluations Workload Benefits (health insurance, retirement plans) Consulting privileges Salary increases (base, and ADI) Salary compression and inversion corrections Anything that involves terms and conditions of employment is a subject to bargaining

5 5 Academic freedom  Enjoy the benefit of a written definition  Protection from retaliation for expressing controversial opinions in the individual’s area of expertise Broader: opinions on the institution and its administration  Exclusive discretion on course content and scope, and student grades  Control of curriculum, credits, and credentials

6 6 Intellectual Property  Ownership, right of use, and royalty- sharing rights Patents Pedagogical materials

7 7 Higher education under attack  Illustrative comments by Prof. Mitchel Duneier, Princeton 1 “The amazing higher-education system we created after World War II—the envy of the world— was built on a foundation of a full-time, tenure-system faculty with a strong tradition of research, academic freedom and a central role in the governance of their universities” Public higher education in the United States has been cut mercilessly since I begun my teaching career at Wisconsin and the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) 20 years ago. Now there is talk about new “efficiencies”. 1 “MOOC pique. An online star withholds his teaching assets” AFT On Campus, Interview, Vol. 33, No. 2, pp (2013).

8 8 Extramural organizing  Access to legislators  Awareness of impending legislation Can fight passage and implementation  Broad coalitions Republicans Democrats Independents  Lobbyist resources

9 9 Issue: Performance evaluations  Contract provisions Definition of process  Who can evaluate  Time lines and required documentation  Mandated consistency with the faculty member’s assignment Definition of merit, including examples  By-laws (contract extensions) for each department/discipline. Voted by faculty in each department. Administration reserves discretionary judgment  Wise contract language can demand administrative justification Allows filing grievances for contract violations

10 10 Issue: P&T  Contract provisions Definition of process  Who can evaluate  Timelines and required documentation  Mandatory consistency with the faculty member’s assignment Definition of merit, including examples  By-laws (contract extensions) for each department/discipline. Voted by faculty in each department.  Allows filing grievances for contract violations

11 11 Issue: Salary raises  Contract provisions Definition of process  Who can evaluate  Time lines and required documentation  Mandated consistency with the faculty member’s assignment Definition of merit, including examples  By-laws (contract extensions) for each department/discipline. Voted by faculty in each department.  Allows filing grievances for contract violations

12 12 Issue: Online education  An emerging battle  On-line courses Who owns, has the right to use, and benefits financially? Work-for-hire or creative work? Who has the right to modify contents?

13 13 … Issue: Online education  MOOCS on the horizon Massive Open Online Courses Poor success, high expectations (investors) Can be useful or disastrous (San Jose SU) Bill Gates wants to use them to flip the classroom  Faculty reduced to “guide on the side” role (no content control, assistant to the “superstar” MOOC professor) Politicians want to use them to save costs  Hire fewer faculty  Hire less-expensive contingent faculty  Privatization of the curriculum For-profit vendors offering university-credit courses California SB 520 (passed but not implemented)

14 14 Issue: Rising health-insurance costs  Erosion of benefits mandated by state legislation Increasing out-of-pocket costs Reduced provider options Fewer health conditions covered  Solution part (a): freeze today’s status for the remainder of the contract Write contract language stating “the university shall provide the health insurance plan shown in Appendix”  Solution part (b): bargain for better terms next contract

15 15 Issue: Diminishing retirement benefits  Erosion of benefits mandated by state legislation Reduced employer contributions Mandated transitions: pension to investment plans Defunding of pension plans  Solution part (a): freeze today’s status for the remainder of the contract Write contract language stating “the university shall provide pension and investment plan as shown in Appendix B”  Solution part (b): bargain for better terms in the next contract

16 16 Issue: Defending against unlawful termination  Case study: A faculty member did not get training from the university on reporting requirements for sexual abuse cases. Faculty member is assigned to a study-abroad program, where a student is sexually abused by someone else. Neither the student nor the faculty report it to the foreign authorities. Faculty member is fired upon return to the US (failure to report), after the student seeks counseling at the university. Contractual language is used in an arbitration to reinstate the faculty member (university failure to provide due training).

17 17 Debunking some myths  Myth: The union is dominated by a bunch of liberal faculty Untrue. At the University of Florida Chapter (UFF-UF) engineering faculty (who are a conservative bunch) play a dominant role: 2 vice presidents, secretary, 2 committee chairs  Myth: The union is against the Republican Party agenda Untrue. Unions need Republicans to succeed in achieving legislative goals.

18 18 … Debunking some myths  Myth: only non-performing faculty join the union Untrue. The UFF-UF membership include very distinguished faculty, including some of the most prestigious engineering faculty  Myth: the union keeps salary increases of Engineering faculty down and of English faculty up  Untrue. The union bargains to benefit all. Across the board baselines (cost of living) + an average merit-raise floor (NOT A CEILING)  Engineering faculty are protected by default when they choose to belong to the union: their voice counts more when it is heard!

19 19 … Debunking some myths  Myth: a union will make it more difficult to recruit and retain high-quality faculty Untrue. Faculty would be attracted to the job security and process-fairness guarantees of a legally binding contract  Myth: a union will make it impossible to get rid of poor-quality faculty Untrue. No contract prevents firing with due cause (negligence, incompetence, etc.)

20 20 Concluding comments  There is no one else better poised than a faculty union to: Protect and expand the rights of the faculty Ensure fairness in all academic endeavors Defend higher ed from continued disinvestment attacks Protect and enhance the foundational values that made American Higher Education the envy of the world

21 21 … Concluding comments  Engineering faculty have a LOT to gain by joining a union because: They benefit from better protection of their easily monetized IP (patents, courses) They acquire a stronger voice to demand more appropriate reinvestment of the large amounts of ICR they generate They are able to better promote a faculty-favorable agenda from within the union by adopting leadership roles and using their professional training (delivery-oriented planning, process management and organizational skills, data gathering and quantification) and improved ability to persuade an administrator based on their fund-raising prestige.

22 22 … Concluding comments  They are better able to demand that a robust counter-offer fund is available  They can get explicit legal protection to pursue entrepreneurial endeavors  They can depend on the union to fight for the big issues (individuals are too busy with their research to afford distractions) Union membership brings greater strength to engineering faculty


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