New Faculty Union at University of Oregon

By Gwendolyn Bradley

This spring, faculty members at the University of Oregon filed union authorization cards with the state Employment Relations Board and came to an agreement with the administration, clearing the way for union certification.

The United Academics of the University of Oregon is composed of tenure-track, non-tenure-track, and research faculty (including postdocs) and will be affiliated jointly with the AAUP and the American Federation of Teachers. It will be one of the largest bargaining units at a Research I institution west of the Mississippi to include both tenure-track and non-tenure-track faculty.

AAUP leaders hailed the victory. “Oregon faculty have made twofold history,” said AAUP president Cary Nelson. “They are one of the first two major research campuses to organize for collective bargaining in decades. What’s more, tenure-track and contingent faculty have combined forces in one union to show us how to guarantee quality education for the future. They and their colleagues at the University of Illinois at Chicago have led the way for faculty all across the country.”

The new union seeks to restore the voice of faculty in determining the university’s educational and research priorities.

“Enrollment at the UO has grown by four thousand students during the last five years, but support for instruction has not kept pace, resulting in dramatic increases in class sizes,” said Deborah Olson, instructor in the Department of Education. One goal will be to realign the budget with the university’s core missions of teaching, research, and service.