The meeting was called to order by Chancellor Keating at 3:35 in D137 MOLN. Faculty members present were T. Baylor, T. Castor, A. Clarke, D. Cress, G. deJong, L. Duetsch, T. Fossum, L. Gellott, P. Goldsmith, S. Hansen, P. James, F. Kavenik, J. Kinchen, W. Leeds-Hurwitz, L. McCann, F. Monardi, R. Moore, M. Mullen, C. Saffioti-Hughes, R. Sasso, A. Snyder, L. Trager, K. Watters, L. White, J. Wolf, and G. Wood.
By prior agreement between the Chancellor and the University Committee, a motion was on the floor to convene as a Committee of the Whole for the purpose of discussing the pros and cons of enabling legislation that would grant faculty the right to engage in collective bargaining. MOTION APPROVED on a voice vote.
Also by prior agreement, Professor James Chaired the Committee of the Whole. She explained that, after this meeting, the University Committee will poll the entire faculty regarding their views on enabling legislation before taking the matter back to the Faculty Senate for possible action.
Professor Mullen asked how the structure of the bargaining units called for in SB145 had been determined. Professor Gellott described the clustering of the UW comprehensive institutions, noting that this bill joins the UW Colleges with the comprehensives.
Professor Kavenik called for discussion of the pros and cons of unionization and Professor Clarke said that his experience with faculty unions at other institutions had been positive because the contract established procedures through which issues could be grieved and successfully arbitrated. He added that, without the right to strike (specifically prohibited by SB145), the resolution of disputes might not work as well. Professor Saffioti-Hughes speculated that unionization might create a hostile working environment but Professor Clarke said that it had not, in his experience.
Chancellor Keating said that while he was in Alaska the state had authorized the creation of a single bargaining unit for the entire system and it had taken more than a year to organize the unit and work out a contract. He noted that SB145 would permit eight bargaining units and speculated that the organizing process could be quite complex.
Professor Mullen said she had held a non-tenure track position on a unionized campus and had not been protected by the union. Professor Kavenik speculated that such a thing could happen here. Professor Clarke said that faculty unions vary a good deal in terms of the support they offer - some are much better than others.
Chancellor Keating said that the contract with classified staff in the UW System has been interpreted to allow no exceptional treatment of individuals. He regrets that this makes it very difficult for him to continue the series of classified staff awards on this campus.
Professor Moore said she was employed on a unionized campus and found it to a very positive environment.
Professor Trager sought to focus attention on the principle that faculty should have the right to engage in collective bargaining if they wish. She urged faculty members to read the compelling memo Professor Meyer recently circulated in support of the right to choose. Still, if we were given that right, she said it would be very difficult to foresee the consequences of bargaining in terms of salaries, benefits, workloads, etc. Professor Saffioti-Hughes agreed that the consequences would be uncertain.
Professor Gellott noted that a number of important traditions on this campus are more like those of Madison/Milwaukee than like those of the comprehensives, and cited their 12-hour teaching loads, university (as opposed to faculty) Senates, and uniform textbook rentals. She said she fears adverse consequences of bargaining. She added that the limited set of health care options that is now available to us is a result of (the lack of) health care competition in this region and is a serious problem for all State agencies, one that cannot be dealt with by the UW alone.
Chancellor Keating said he doesn't understand why SB145 has so many problematic stipulations. Professor James said that she believes faculty should be clear about their support for SB145 in particular and their general support for the right to engage in collective bargaining.
Professor Wood said that he is uncomfortable with the large bargaining unit this campus would be part of and is concerned that we would not be able to influence bargaining priorities. He said the existence of a contract might diminish the collegiality that now exists and is unlikely to improve our ability to recruit new faculty. Professor Saffioti-Hughes agreed, saying that our efforts to distinguish ourselves among the comprehensives (e.g., in terms of diversity) may lead us to advance our own set of priorities.
Professor Clarke said that a good deal of the language in SB145 has been taken from the National Labor Relations Act. He added that many faculty unions do obtain better benefits (retirement, health, etc.), although this doesn't always happen.
Chancellor Keating said that he plans to press the matter of differential health benefits in this region with State officials. Professor Trager observed that our prospects for obtaining benefit improvements are constrained by statewide policies, particularly in regard to retirement and health care. Professor Gellott said we need to work with other State employees whether or not we engage in bargaining.
Professor Saffioti-Hughes asked whether other campuses have supported SB145. In response, Professor James said enabling legislation has been endorsed by the faculty on nearly every campus but that the endorsements have been general and have not referred to SB145 in particular. Professor Gellott said there has long been support for legislation such as this in some quarters of the State. Professor Duetsch said that, on a voice vote, our Faculty Senate had approved a resolution supporting enabling legislation in 1994.
Professor Leeds-Hurwitz asked how agreement might be obtained on issues within the bargaining unit and Professor Fossum speculated that great pressure would be brought to bear on subunits like ours. Professor Moore called (again) for consideration of the general proposal, not the specific details of SB145. Professor Wood speculated that we might not choose to organize if SB145 were adopted.
At Professor Gellott's request,
Professor James read the UW System position statement (opposition) in regard
to SB145. Professor
Saffioti-Hughes speculated that our ability to convert sick leave into health insurance benefits after retirement could be endangered through bargaining. Professor Wolf asked why we would want to join a bargaining unit and Professor James cited potential gains through grievance procedures and benefit improvements. Professor Wolf then asked who now acts as our advocate for salary improvements.
Professor Snyder said that history suggests that improvements in salaries and benefits come through unions. He urged colleagues to value the gains that other comprehensives might derive from negotiated improvement of their working conditions and said we should not be afraid to take action on our own behalf as well. Professor Saffioti-Hughes said this would require the right to strike.
Provost Watters responded to Professor Wolf, saying that a group of faculty/staff representatives has advocated for salary improvements each biennium and has been quite successful. In this biennium, they were more successful than the unions that have represented other groups of State employees. Professor Gellott agreed with the Provost's characterization. Professor Fossum added that faculty also have a great deal of control over their working conditions.
With the hour of adjournment
at hand, Professor James said that she hoped that the Committee would rise without
report and rely on the minutes of the meeting to relay what has been said to
those who were not able to attend. Without objection, the Committee rose without
report at 5:00.