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Faculty Forum Papers

"October 1977 - Problems of Collective Bargaining" By

Fred W. Decker

October 28, 1977

     Shall tenured faculty members, already threatened (because of tenure) with exclusion from the benefits of the new national law banning forced retirement for age before 70, now also suffer loss of the benefits of tenure if they fail to pay union dues or the equivalent?

     That question has arisen elsewhere, notably at Ferris State College in Michigan, as observed by Dr. Russell Kirk in his lectures and articles. Academic freedom may have only academic value if the university gets forced into dismissing faculty members who refuse to pay union dues or "fees".

     The strike threat might prove counter-productive when undertaken by faculty unions. Prof. Bengt Lofstedt of UCLA observes that in many disciplines the strike threat might simply prompt elimination of programs which are tolerated at best as frills by some unsympathetic tax-paying supporters.

     Leading faculty members around the country like Prof. John Fawcett of the University of Mississippi have asserted in the context of academic freedom that professors must be granted a basic right to work.

     At the University of Bridgeport many faculty members reacted in dismay when they learned that their own national professors' organization had obtained an "agency fee" clause in the collective bargaining contract. Those traditionalists felt they did not want to compel their colleagues to pay, for they considered this an invasion of free choice and academic freedom.

     Prof. Vernon Jones of Clark University considers the amount of time on union matters and the amount of money collected from faculty union members "alarming", especially in the case of public school teachers. He proposes a blue-ribbon research panel which would in effect perform calculated arbitration in advance of any dispute so that objective criteria would lead to a theoretically determined pay rate for each type of faculty position. His system, designed for public school faculties, would perhaps even more readily serve the needs of faculty people in higher education.

     Faculty members at OSU preparing to vote during 7-8 Dec. 1977 on collective bargaining and on a choice of bargaining agent may want to know in detail the potential commitments they might thereby make, as well as the alternatives open to them. For this reason an assembly of recent issues of the UPAO monthly Universitas in which the authors named above and others take up various aspects of faculty unions in higher education will await the perusal of colleagues at OSU in the Reserve Book Room of the Library. Just ask for the "Universitas Counter File."

     Let it not be said later that we did not fully consider what we had voted ourselves into.