Faculty Forum Papers
"WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE…"
Nancy F. Leman
Department of English
March 2, 1983
WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE…
Some of my friends do not agree with me on the subject of collective bargaining for the
OSU faculty. I'm sorry they don't see the advantages of bargaining because I'm afraid
they'll check the box for "no representation." But more than the fact that they're on
the other side, I'm bothered by some of the arguments they've shared with you through
the Faculty Forum and the Faculty Forum Papers, and I'd like to tell you my views on
My friend John Morris traced for you the progress of his thinking about bargaining.
In 1980-81, when he was President of OSU-AAUP, I helped him as his Vice President;
the following year, he helped me, immensely. Together we went through some tense
times with the beginnings of this bargaining process. Our mutual goal (I think he
would agree) was to keep AAUP in the running if the OSU faculty came to bargaining,
but, like the narrator in Robert Frost's poem, it seems that
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --
I took the one less traveled by,
And that had made all the difference.
Only I hadn't realized until I read his Faculty Forum Paper how divergent our roads
had become. John Morris wrote
An analysis of collective bargaining on university campuses during the past thirteen
years of its history suggests that the presently mandated industrial model has not
worked and, at best, offers marginal salary increases in exchange for serious losses
in traditional academic values.
In the first place, I think we should realize that higher education contracts are not
based on the "presently mandated industrial model" in the sense that they spell out
twenty-minute rest breaks, time clocks, safety rules and inspections, or even the
speed with which the assembly line moves through the plant. These are matters of
working conditions that are frequently found in industrial contracts, and they
just do not appear in the contracts for higher education. Each faculty contract
addresses itself to the conditions of the campus for which it was designed.
In the second place, salary increases, despite what you may hear, are not the most
important aspect of a faculty-administration contract. For instance, the argument
that PSU Professors' salaries have lagged behind those of the other two Oregon
Universities is not a good argument against faculty bargaining in higher education.
The circumstances are different there. PSU has always lagged in salary.
John Morris's citations were the standard ones; I would suggest only that some have
been superseded by recent studies. Writing about collective bargaining is a cottage
industry; some people make their living by doing it. Victor Baldridge and Frank Kemerer,
for example, have been writing on this subject for more than ten years. In their most
recent publication, Assessing the Impact of Faculty Collective Bargaining
AAHE-ERIC Higher Education Research Report No. 8, 1981, Baldridge and Kemerer have
this to say, only one of many positive comments, about their latest questionnaire
survey of the same 240 institutions they had surveyed in 1974, plus all other
Although all respondent groups see unions as having at least some positive influence
on wages, benefits, and job security at their institutions…the highest success ratings
are given to obtaining fairer grievance procedures. Institution-oriented and union-oriented
respondents agree that collective bargaining has helped channel and regulate conflict
through the grievance procedure. The belief is strongest at public colleges and universities.
I'll admit that there are also negative assessments of bargaining in this study,
but not as negative as the earlier citations on Dr. Morris's list would have us believe.
Turning now to my friend John Block's public statements, I'll start by discussing
his presentation at the Faculty Forum, where he was amused by PSU's preoccupation
. Several clauses in PSU's Agreement were devoted to it, he said.
John Block is right; parking matters at PSU, where a parking permit costs more than $200.00.
(Ann Weikel, President of PSU-AAUP, told me that.)
Even at OSU parking is a lively topic. Some of the most heated Faculty Senate meetings
here have dealt with parking regulations. Remember when Nedry Burris tried to explain
the (then) new "dangler" system to our Senate? It doesn't surprise me that PSU faculty
wrote parking clauses into their contracts. (I doubt, however, that we would do the same. But
then we might write a clause on basketball tickets, and that wouldn't be too surprising, either.)
People say, "You can prove anything with statistics." I don't know whether that's true, but
I do know you can prove almost anything with collective bargaining clauses. I have twenty
pounds of them in my tiny office, and some of them are great. (John Block found some that
weren't so great.) Every university contract has its own style, and none is the "mandated
Lastly, I'd like to assure Christopher Mathews that the Faculty Alliance has already petitioned
to add chairs and heads to the OSU faculty bargaining unit, just as we said we would. Who is
the faculty? Dr. Mathews asks. For the present, it's the members of the bargaining unit as
determined by the ERB, but with the addition of the chairs and heads as soon as we can add
them. If the faculty perceives itself differently from this ERB-determined unit, it can seek
to adjust the size and composition by further petitions. As Everett Hansen said repeatedly in
the Faculty Forum, "Collective bargaining is a process."
There has been considerable talk about collegiality, one of those great concepts like
motherhood and apple pie that we all hope to have some of. John Block thinks collegiality
deteriorates under collective bargaining; he is entitled to his opinion. I know of campuses
where the reverse is true. The OSU faculty has a chance on March 9-10 to enrich its collegiality
by reaching out through collective bargaining for a greater share of participation in the destiny
of the university.
Nancy F. Leman, Department of English. March 2, 1983
Opinions expressed by authors of Faculty Forum articles are not necessarily those of
the OSU Faculty or Faculty Senate.