University Senate discusses faculty growth, unionization

University Senate gathered Wednesday to discuss pressing issues currently facing the institution, as well as to deliberate on the possible formation of a new faculty union.

The meeting began with remarks and an open discussion by University President Richard Lariviere on the state of the University. Lariviere touched on topics including University growth, policies in the newly drafted constitution, University self-debt issuance and Oregon University System issues surrounding the Department of Justice as the University’s general counsel.

Lariviere spoke on a possible five-year plan that would appoint 100 new faculty members in response to rapid growth seen in the past three years. The issue proved to be important to many of the senators.

“It’s unsustainable,” Sen. Nathan Tublitz@@[email protected]@ said in regard to student and faculty population at the University.

Many senators felt similarly on the subject and agreed there is a need for the new development of classroom and faculty office space. Tublitz approached the congregation with the idea of using the space from McArthur Court for new development of class and office space.

“The question is, where are we going to get the money?” Lariviere said in response.

Enrollment growth has been increasingly causing strain on the University, and the senate has committed itself to coming up with solutions to counter that pressure.

Lariviere also addressed issues surrounding the University’s general counsel, mainly the OUS Chancellor’s office attempting to become the sole employer of all general counsel for each OUS institution including the University.

“This would not be in the best interest of the University,” Lariviere said.

The presidents of each institution are trying to prevent this change from materializing.

United Academics@@ then gave a presentation on unionization of University faculty. Neuroscience post-doctoral faculty member Julian Catchen@@[email protected]@, tenure education professor Deborah Olson@@[email protected]@, and tenure philosophy professor Scott Pratt@@[email protected]@ led the presentation, advocating for the organization of the faculty union.

The group supports the formation of the union for many reasons, namely because it would help integrate faculty into the institutional mechanisms of the University, Catchen said.

Catchen pointed out how the union would help provide stability for postdoctoral researchers such as himself. The union would also help progress the idea of shared governance between administration and faculty. With a union in place, faculty would be able to have bargaining power as well as power to lobby the state government.

The union organization committee is currently in the process of collecting signatures and will soon hold an election on whether or not to unionize. If successful, the union will be officially registered with the state’s Employment Relations Board.

Other OUS institutions with faculty unions include Eastern Oregon, Western Oregon, Southern Oregon and Portland State universities. Although there are many concerns about the union not being able to embody the needs of such a large and diverse group of professionals, advocates feel the union will be able to address the demands of the whole faculty.

“We need to represent our entire range of our constituency,” Olson said.

Some of the Senate members in attendance were excited about the prospect of a union, because it is seen as another entity that will be able to put pressure on the administration and add force to certain issues that the Senate addresses. The labor laws that guide the union will give it the outside authority the Senate lacks at times.

The Senate meeting concluded with reports from Sen. Robert Kyr@@[email protected]@ as well as from ASUO Vice President Katie Taylor and ASUO Sen. Emma [email protected]@[email protected]@

Taylor sat in for President Ben Eckstein, who left early in the meeting, and spoke on current ASUO dealings including the postponement of the EMU referendum as well as two new resolutions facing the ASUO Senate. Taylor cited the lack of the inclusion of new student spaces and the lack of student influence on the referendum as two of the main reasons for the postponement last week.

“We want to make sure we get guarantees for the things we want,” Taylor said.

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