FAQ: How would a union affect faculty and staff?
Will union representation and collective bargaining enhance our salary and working conditions?
Collective bargaining offers the opportunity for faculty and staff to be full partners in any decisions that affect salary, pay practices, and working conditions. From the unions' perspective, collective bargaining is a pro-active process, that is, faculty and staff would introduce comprehensive proposals regarding salary issues and working conditions that embody their goals in these areas.
The ensuing negotiations would shape the ultimate agreement on these issues. Salary and working conditions are invariably enhanced when faculty and staff collectively identify desired outcomes and negotiate from a unified position.
What is the record of negotiations at other higher education institutions?
Other institutions, large and small, such as the California State University system, the State University of New York system, the University of Hawai'i, Central Oregon State College, many of the universities in Montana, and the community colleges in most states, have successfully utilized the collective bargaining process. In addition, many of these faculty and staff members have enhanced their standing with their respective legislatures and administrations by utilizing and encouraging effective modes of communication and dispute resolution.
Does a negotiated contract offer greater security than a current shared governance agreement?
A negotiated agreement offers all employees the greatest degree of certainty and security. Such an agreement clearly sets forth the terms and conditions of employment. These terms reflect the input of employees and are secured by agreement for a specified length of time. The usual current shared governance procedure controls only the relationship between the administration and the faculty or staff. The board of trustees is not bound in any legal way to a decision reached through the shared governance agreement. In this time of fiscal volatility an agreement built on faculty involvement would provide a significant increase in stability.
What are some of the benefits and services NEA provides higher-education unions?
- Strong and Effective Advocacy -- From Maine to Hawai'i and Michigan to Texas, the NEA represents faculty, academic professionals, and university personnel in every type of institution -- from public and private community colleges to Ph.D.-granting universities. The NEA and its state affiliates offer professional advice, support, and assistance on key issues like salary, benefits, and pay equity. Association experts visit campuses to assist faculty and staff members in settling problems such as violations of tenure rights or workplace abuses.
- Seasoned Political Representation -- Key decisions on the future of higher education are generally made by politicians, not educators. Faculty and staff need a strong, reliable voice to carry our views to the state capital and to Washington DC. NEA represents the interests of students and educators in the political arena and strives to increase public support for public education. When it comes to political advocacy on education reform policy, tenure, productivity, financial support for higher education, effective tax reform, retirement benefits, health care reform, and other policies that have a significant impact on ourselves and our institution, the union has been and will continue to be the only truly effective advocate for educators.
- Legal Assistance -- Union members receive legal assistance in dealing with most employment related claims. All higher education union members are automatically protected by a one million dollar professional liability insurance policy. This liability insurance exists to defend members in cases that arise during the performance of their professional duties. It is also noteworthy to mention here that the NEA legal staff has effectively argued that academic freedom should be recognized as a constitutional right. As a result, tenure is now viewed as a property right protected by the 14th Amendment.
- Publications -- The NEA periodically publishes various journals, newsletters, and reports containing information and data about higher education. Union members automatically receive these publications. Check out the publications on NEA's Higher Ed web site.
Who will develop the constitution and bylaws of the new union?
Faculty and/or staff who become members of the local chapter would develop and adopt a constitution and bylaws to replace any interim operating principles. Officers would be democratically elected, and committee appointments made in accordance with the constitution and bylaws. The constitution and bylaws would be established in a fully democratic and inclusive manner.
How would I have a voice in the union?
The union would establish a constitution and bylaws that address the organizations structure and rules of operation. Specifically, these democratically established procedures would define the kinds of officers, committees, and representative structures that would exist. In addition, the electoral procedure, length of office, etc., would be established. Individuals would participate by becoming members and seeking an active and, perhaps, elected role in the organization