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COLLECTIVE BARGAINING - WHERE ARE THE FACTS?



by

William Firey, Mathematics
&
Gary Musser, Mathematics


March 3, 1983




COLLECTIVE BARGAINING - WHERE ARE THE FACTS?

When deciding how to vote on this critical issue, we need to find the facts which support claims that are made. After reviewing the Faculty Forum Papers and attending two meetings, we have concluded that the Faculty Alliance seems to rely on promises and emotions while the antiunion speakers and writers appeal to research studies and personal experience. In the one pro-alliance paper that did quote research, the researcher was associated with NEA Research, hence his findings may be biased. In the Faculty Forum meeting, again there were several instances of emotional promises without factual backup. One case of emotion versus reason was especially bothersome. After a representative from the Attorney General's office carefully stated various aspects of collective bargaining law, an OEA official attempted to discredit him by calling him "a person who is legally charged with representing the management side," yet never disagreed with his factual statements. Applause (by some) followed.

Apparently, one of the most important potential benefits of a union is that it may improve our salaries. The Alliance stated that since 1971, the Portland CPI rose 239.6%, public school teachers' salaries increased at a rate of 220%, and we have done even worse. The argument is given that OEA has been instrumental in increasing teachers' salaries. Even though it appears that OEA has been successful in getting funds transferred from higher education to secondary/elementary education, teachers still have not kept up with inflation. When Alliance representatives were asked if salary ranges would be leveled, their answer was that it was possible, but not probable. But, the union would seek to put in higher floors. Inevitably, higher floors mean lower ceilings in a closed system! The retort to this statement was that through the union's negotiations, more money would be available for salaries, i.e., we would get a bigger share of the state budget. Yet, when a union official was asked to name any states where higher education received a greater share of the state budget after the faculty affiliated with a union, not one example could be provided. Review the effect of unionization on salaries at PSU provided in the OSU Faculty Economic Welfare Committee Report of 2/15/83.

Finally, it appears that the Alliance is asking us to buy a pig in a poke. They have not produced even a sketch of the by-laws which would govern their proposed bargaining unit. How and by whom will the bargaining leadership and the legally responsible bargaining representative be chosen? How and to what extent will the faculty have a voice in deciding to accept or reject a contract? Who will choose the bargaining issues? When and by whose choice will a fair-share agreement, requiring each faculty member to contribute to the costs of bargaining, come into effect? At the Faculty Forum meeting, the alliance leadership displayed a disturbing ignorance on several such major legal questions. The Alliance gives oral assurances that all these details will be worked out to our satisfaction. We need more than such vague statements: we need considered, precise, published answers to these questions before handing over to the Faculty Alliance this power that they seek. In the words of one of the Alliance leaders: "…it is increasingly important that we get specified procedures out here so that you can see what you're voting on." We couldn't agree more. The Faculty Alliance has had months to provide us with accurate facts: where are they?

We close with a plea to each faculty member: VOTE. By law, one more than 50% of THOSE WHO VOTE will determine the outcome of this election. You cannot be neutral on this issue by not voting. EVERY faculty member's vote is meaningful!

March 3, 1982

William Firey
Professor, Mathematics
Oregon State University

Gary Musser
Professor, Mathematics
Oregon State University
Opinions expressed by authors of Faculty Forum articles are not necessarily those of the OSU Faculty or Faculty Senate.