Faculty groups discuss union list with U lawyers

Jim Martyka

University lawyers met with faculty members Wednesday morning to discuss who would be eligible to vote in a union election if the state decides enough professors signed cards requesting an election.
Members of faculty groups that have denounced the Board of Regents’ proposed tenure revisions, including the University Faculty Alliance and the American Association of University Professors, reviewed a faculty list prepared by the University’s legal representatives. The list of 1,554 names excludes approximately 400-425 professors.
University lawyer Dan Wachtler said professors had to fall into one of three categories to be eliminated from their list: those who are directors of a center in the University, those who hold dual appointments — such as a professor who is also an administrator — and those who are department heads.
The list also excludes faculty members in the Law School and the Academic Health Center, as they are not classified by the state in the same group of employees as are faculty in other University departments.
A year-long push toward University faculty unionization gained momentum earlier this month after the Board of Regents announced proposed tenure revisions which were seen as too harsh by many faculty.
Because the number of cards filed may be enough to prompt a campus-wide vote on unionization, a cease-and-desist order was issued by the state to stop official discussion of changes to the faculty tenure code until an election is held.
Faculty and regents have both treated the cease-and-desist ruling as a gag order, said Josh Tilsen of the state’s Bureau of Mediation Services, and that simply isn’t the case.
“Both the faculty and the regents can talk about the issue, but both are being very careful,” he said.
Faculty and University representatives are scheduled to meet again in two weeks to discuss any revisions the faculty makes in the list.
The University lawyers stressed that this list was not necessarily the final draft, and that they were ready to discuss changes with the faculty. “We are anxious to expedite this issue,” said Wachtler. “We want to be as flexible and as quick in resolving this issue as possible.”
Law professor Fred Morrison said afterward that this meeting held no surprises. “Now the faculty has to do two things,” he said. “We have to determine who is faculty and who is administration, as well as figure out what issues we can discuss.”
Tilsen stressed that this meeting was held to get the two groups to start working together. “The Bureau will offer suggestions, but we are trying to get the parties to work the issue out between themselves,” he said.