Frequently Asked Questions about Union Membership

Didn’t I already sign a card?

You may have signed a union authorization card last winter. These cards were turned in to the Oregon Employment Relations Board (ERB) and were used to show support for forming our union. Now that our union has been certified, you have the opportunity to join United Academics and become an active member of your union.

Why should I become a member now?

Now is an exciting time to join because you can have an impact on our first contract and help shape the structure of our union. Our bargaining team is starting the negotiation process with university administration and needs the visible support of faculty across campus in order to win a good contract. The more faculty members who are actively involved in building our union, the better our contract will be. Becoming a member is one way for you to demonstrate your support and help win a strong contract

Votes on the constitution and bylaws, dues rates, and first contract ratification are expected to happen this academic year. We also expect to hold elections for union officers before the end of Spring Term. Only union members will be eligible to vote and run for office.

What is the difference between a member and a non-member?

Our union must by law negotiate for and fairly represent all faculty in the bargaining unit, regardless of membership status. While only full members will pay full dues and have voting rights, many faculty contracts include a “fair share” provision. This means that everyone who is covered by the contract has the choice of either joining the union as a full member or paying a representation fee. The “fair share provision” is based on the premise that everyone who benefits from a contract should share the cost of negotiating and administering it.

What if I change my mind about being a member?

You have the right to revoke your membership after you have been a member for thirty days.

What are the dues?

The membership of the United Academics will set the official dues rate after our constitution and bylaws have been approved by the membership.  In the meantime, a subcommittee of the Organizing Committee met to estimate an appropriate dues rate. This Finance Committee has estimated that dues will not exceed 1.25% of salary. Dues will not be deducted until after our first contract has been ratified by our membership.

Will my colleagues know I am a member (or not)?

While we have no intention of publishing or broadcasting this information, we will be tracking our strength as measured by our membership numbers and density. Activists in the various departments will need to know who is a member and who is not. Activists, officers, and stewards will be in frequent communication with our members about union activities. Knowing who is, and is not, a full member will happen as a matter of course.

Will my Chair, Dean, Provost know I am a member (or not)?

If you sign a membership form, it will be sent to payroll so that the proper amount of dues can be deducted from your paycheck (after our contract is ratified), so your membership status will certainly be known outside of the union. We cannot predict whether or not your chair, dean, or provost has any interest in your membership status nor do we know what internal rules the administration will set regarding information about membership.

State law makes it clear, however, that discriminating against any union member because of their membership status is illegal. This applies to both the administration and the union. The union cannot refuse to help someone with a grievance because they are not a full member of the union, just as the administration cannot use membership information in a discriminatory way.

What are our bargaining priorities?

Over the summer, faculty members divided into ten work groups to review information from the bargaining survey and notes from department meetings to identify faculty priorities for bargaining. These work groups did research on existing UO policies and contracts other faculty have won in order to formulate the best approaches to achieving these goals. The Bargaining Caucus—made up of liaisons from the work groups and members of the Organizing Committee—compiled these ideas into a nearly complete and cohesive group of proposals for the Bargaining Team to finalize and present at the table.

Through it all, the work groups, Bargaining Caucus, and Bargaining Team have been guided by our mission: to use our collective power to negotiate a contract that strengthens the quality of research and education at the University of Oregon. Their hard work has led to proposals that embody our shared values of institutional transparency, professional respect, faculty voice, and stability. More specifically, in negotiations we will focus on attaining a contract that:

  • Enables UO to recruit and retain high quality faculty by establishing competitive salaries, stable working conditions, and access to benefits for all faculty
  • Provides for meaningful faculty voice in the creation and implementation of transparent, enforceable policies related to evaluation, promotion, and workload
  • Supports excellence and innovation in research and education, beginning with adequate facilities and manageable class sizes

 What can I do to help secure a good contract?

Build a strong membership – Become a member of United Academics and encourage your colleagues to join.

Stay informed – Check the United Academics website and Facebook page for bargaining updates and read the email newsletters. Attend a bargaining session: they will be open to all faculty!

Show your solidarity when we have a United Academics’ day of action (wear a sticker, hang a door sign, attend a rally)

Become part of the Contract Action Team. The Contract Action Team will work to make sure all members have access to information about progress in negotiations and help involve our colleagues in solidarity actions.

If you have questions about the bargaining process, you can email the Bargaining Team at bargaining@uauoregon.org or call the United Academics office at 541-636-4714.

Am I eligible to join the union?

As of now, the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by the University of Oregon and United Academics on April 24 is the controlling agreement for determining who is in and who is out of the bargaining unit. You can view that document, and the list of faculty members who were excluded from the bargaining unit at the time of certification, here: http://uauoregon.org/wp-content/blogs.dir/75/files/2012/04/MOU_4.24.12.pdf

Only the specific faculty members named in this document are excluded from the bargaining unit. If you are a research or instructional faculty member and your name does not appear on one of these lists, you are included in the bargaining unit at this time. 

Given the ambiguous nature of Oregon law concerning who is, or is not, a supervisor, there is still understandable confusion about who is and who is not in the bargaining unit. We have agreed to continue working with the university administration to clarify exactly who should be defined as a supervisor and, therefore, not included in the bargaining unit. This means some people currently not listed in the April 24 lists may be excluded before we ratify a contract. However, there is absolutely no reason you should not sign a card now if you want to be a union member. If you are included in the bargaining unit you’ll be eligible to participate in our inaugural rounds of voting. If it is determined that you are not a member of the unit, you will pay no dues.

 

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