Consider the reasons why unionizing with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) is the wrong choice for OSU at this time:

  • The organizers of the OSU faculty union initiative have failed to articulate a vision or clear set of goals for the union. They are asking you to contribute 1-2% of your salary, with zero specifics about what they intend to accomplish.
  • No premier research-intensive university in the U.S.—no true aspirational peer of OSU—has a unionized tenure-track faculty. Recently, both the University of Washington and the University of Minnesota worked to successfully defeat unionization of their faculty, for reasons similar to those listed below.
  • We agree that the erosion of state funding to higher education is a problem. However, there is no convincing reason to believe that a unionized faculty will lead to greater state support for Oregon State University. If anything, we believe that working directly with our state leaders, rather than through lobbyists, places OSU at a competitive advantage relative to other state institutions when it comes to receiving state support.
  • There is no convincing reason to believe that faculty salaries would compare more favorably to our peers if we had a union. Indeed, the findings of peer-reviewed research indicate that unions have no discernible effect on average pay. However, all faculty members would be required to pay a percentage of their salaries to the union for their entire period of employment. Meanwhile, AFT executives enjoy especially generous salaries from the dues they collect from their members. 
  • Union representatives plan to unionize via a card check process, not a majority vote. This means that there will be faculty members on campus whose voice is never heard when it comes to whether or not they support unionization. Indeed, some faculty may never even hear about the union until the union effort passes, at which point these faculty will be required to pay 1%-2% of their salary to support it. We fear that this approach has the potential to divide our campus rather than unite us. We propose that we slow down, and ensure that every faculty member on campus is provided with the pros and cons of unionization, so that all faculty members can then make up their minds regarding whether or not to support it.
  • Although rare, there is the potential for mandatory faculty strikes, which would force faculty members to choose between standing with their striking peers or teaching our students.
  • The current proposal is for tenured/tenure-track and instructional faculty to be represented by the union, while leaving out professional faculty. We are proud of how united the faculty are at OSU, regardless of their classification, and we do not believe a union that leaves behind professional faculty, and creates a fissure between these two groups, is the right choice.
  • Some faculty unions de-emphasize merit pay and emphasize lifting salary floors and awarding across-the-board raises, which are antithetical to attracting and retaining outstanding faculty at a premier research-intensive university. 
  • Indeed, research indicates that faculty who are research productive are less likely to support unionization, suggesting that the turnover intentions of our most productive (and most in-demand) researchers could increase as a result of unionization.
  • Unions serve the needs of their members, but also the needs of their organization, which is focused on growth. The goals of these two parties can come into conflict, such that unions may make decisions that are good for the organization, but not for the members. For example, unions may negotiate salary increases (good for increasing union dues!) but trade away other valued benefits (e.g., retirement, insurance) that do not increase the dues their members pay.
  • It will be harder to get things done at Oregon State University. A department head in one college wanting to offer a course release to an instructor for service may not be able to do so without the time-consuming support of union officials across campus or in Washington D.C.   
  • Unionization may increase the operating costs of our university as new administrative offices and procedures would need to be implemented, based on the outcomes of the collective bargaining process. These costs are ultimately transferred to students, and precious dollars are shifted away from scholarly activity.
  • Aspects of shared governance that work well at OSU would likely be negatively affected by unionization. At present, faculty senate represents OSU faculty on over 25 key administrative functions at OSU. Sewing tension between faculty and administration may change that.
  • Unions typically implement policies and procedures that prioritize seniority. Whereas the decorum of Academia suggests that tenured associate and full professors work to shield and protect the scholarly pursuits of their more junior colleagues, a seniority model prioritizes the interests of those whose "tickets have already been punched." 
  • The needs and vulnerability of adjunct and full-time instructional faculty are significantly different from those of tenured and tenure-track faculty, who enjoy the due-process associated with the tenure process. We believe that an open discussion needs to take place to discuss how the union plans to address the very different needs of these two groups.
  • Better, more predictable, and longer contracts for non-tenure track faculty can be negotiated without forming a union including both tenured and tenure-track faculty. 
  • The AFT spent over $33 million on campaign contributions in 2016; it spent over $7.5 million on outside political spending, and only $1.3 million actually lobbying on behalf of AFT members. This lobbying was directed at primary and secondary education. Moreover, AFT's contributions were directed at a single political party. 
  • At a time when universities are under political scrutiny, respecting that our faculty may have diverse political viewpoints reinforces the notion that OSU remains an oasis for intellectual freedom, respectful discourse, and the open exchange of ideas. Forcing faculty members to donate to specific political parties via their union dues does not.    
  • The AFT (American Federation of Teachers) was organized to protect the interests of public school teachers, not university faculty. While we respect the hard work and dedication of primary and secondary school teachers, the work they do and the challenges they face have little in common with the activities of Academic faculty in university settings.

AFT and aaup are THE WRONG CHOICE for oregon state university faculty at this time.