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Faculty Forum Papers



Nancy F. Leman
Department of English

March 2, 1983


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 those subjects.

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 unionized institutions:
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 with parking. 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 industrial" style.

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.