With the end of the academic year upon us, we thought it would be helpful to comment about the role and future of our union.
UNITED FACULTY’S ROLE
United Faculty’s primary mission remains unchanged. We will continue to serve as a relentless and effective advocate for proper faculty working conditions, academic freedom, tenure, faculty governance and due process. With this in mind, we are pleased to report the joint Faculty Handbook Committee has produced it’s final draft of the new Faculty Handbook. The overwhelming majority of the handbook is the same as the current contract between the Board of Regents and United Faculty. Any differences are seen by joint committee to be improvements on contract language.
The Faculty Handbook is one part of a new chapter in the history of United Faculty and UNI. Moving forward, your union will oppose any efforts to cut academic programs or reduce faculty. For those not yet concerned about these possibilities, please read this story about reorganization at the University of Iowa.
Make no mistake about it, this type of reorganization is always about cutting personnel. Also note the absence of a faculty voice. For the most part, UI faculty are at the complete mercy of their administrators. By contrast, United Faculty has an array of resources at our disposal (see below) to protect faculty, our families and our students from “reorganizations” and the like.
United Faculty is going to be more involved in the push for improved funding for UNI. Among other things, we will intensify our outreach to political and community stake holders who want to protect UNI. The fiscal status quo is not a sustainable position for our university.
We will open new dialogues with the administration, the Board of Regents and Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield about health insurance and retirement benefits. We will continue to represent faculty in grievances or other matters of concern. In short, we will continue doing everything we’ve done for the past 42 years, and more.
In our work with the administration we will continue to strive for collaboration, honesty and accountability. Recent changes in leadership of the Board of Regents are a positive development. We believe United Faculty’s good relationship with the regents is going to become even better. We are especially pleased that Board President Michael Richards has already announced support for a public comment period during board meetings. This is something we’ve been working on for three years. Please read this story.
Here are some of the means of influence through which United Faculty will continue to pursue the above goals.
1. Faculty Ownership. United Faculty will keep you fully informed on good news and bad news regarding issues related to our mission. We will not sugar coat anything. We will inform you if the administration opposes faculty centered polices. We will credit the administration when it is appropriate to do so.
As always, we will use surveys and other means to better understand faculty preferences. We will continue call on you when help is needed. Our new Department Liaison program will improve our ability to know what is happening throughout UNI’s faculty work locations and to intervene when necessary.
When universities face major change, a unified faculty is a potent force to be reckoned with. Never doubt the reservoir of faculty power on this campus. United Faculty will continue to build faculty power and use it when necessary. You are United Faculty’s most important source of power and influence.
2. Legal Remedies. We will continue to rely on advice and remedies offered by our retained legal counsel. Changes to the collective bargaining law have not reduced United Faculty’s access to various legal interventions. For example, United Faculty’s legal counsel is currently at work on a gender related disparate impact claim that challenges changes to Chapter 20. So far, the data look quite favorable for that claim.
3. American Association of University Professors. AAUP is completely committed to building the strength and power of our union. As an example, in the past few weeks AAUP organizers mobilized our Department Liaison program and led the way in transforming our dues authorization procedures. They have been amazing. They will return in the fall to begin a second phase of organizing and training. AAUP also has national standing regarding the misbehavior of university and college administrations. United Faculty will keep AAUP fully informed on any administrative behavior that could compromise tenure, academic freedom, due process or faculty governance.
4. Board of Regents. During the past few years, United Faculty has formed a good working relationship with the regents. Among other things, this means regents now hear directly from UF about faculty concerns. In other words, faculty issues are no longer expressed solely through the administration. UF will continue to be an independent voice to the regents about what is happening at UNI. We are optimistic about the future of our relationship with the board.
5. Political Support. United Faculty has a strong relationship with a growing number of legislators throughout the state. In the near future, we will begin sponsoring meetings with gubernatorial candidates.
6. Public Opinion. UNI is owned by the people of Iowa. One could rightfully call us “The People’s University.” For this reason, UF reserves the right to use our media relations program to keep Iowans informed on progress and problems in the development of fair and equitable polices that support UNI faculty, our families and our students.
THE FACULTY SENATE
The past few months have been a period of unprecedented collaboration and solidarity between United Faculty and the Faculty Senate. United Faculty looks forward to maintaining our strong coalition with the University Faculty Senate.
A NEW ERA
We are entering a new period in the history of our union. Experience in similar union environments shows the most important predictor of our success will be the solidarity and size of our membership. Thank you to everyone who supports UF with your membership. Thank you to everyone who has taken an active role in our advocacy.
NEW UF MEMBERSHIP DUES SYSTEM
If you have not already done so, please, please, please complete our new dues authorization form. It is imperative that we bring all of our members into the new system as soon as possible.
FACULTY WORKING CONDITIONS ARE STUDENT LEARNING CONDITIONS!
President, United Faculty
Vice President, United Faculty