UO opposes union unit in ERB filing


By STEFAN OSTRACH, Special Correspondent

EUGENE — A union organizing effort by a majority of faculty employed by the University of Oregon (UO) has been delayed.

Just four minutes before a 5 p.m. deadline on April 4, lawyers representing UO’s administration filed objections with the state Employment Relations Board (ERB). United Academics of the University of Oregon (UA-UO), a joint effort by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), had previously turned in 1,100 cards signed by a majority of teaching staff seeking to join together in a single bargaining unit.  UO has 1,912 faculty members.

Under card check provisions of Oregon’s public sector labor law, if ERB finds the bargaining unit to be appropriate, it will certify the union and order the UO administration to bargain.

The administration’s objections would gut the union campaign. It wants to exclude from the bargaining unit tenure-related faculty; adjunct and affiliate faculty; postdoctoral scholars; research associates and fellows; emeritus and other retired faculty; visiting or guest faculty; and faculty of graduate and professional degree programs. Further, it wants to expand the definition of a supervisor to include all principal investigators, department heads, directors of centers and institutes, and all faculty who work with graduate fellows.

In a statement posted on its website, UA-UO wrote: “They seem intent on limiting the right of faculty to be part of a union… These objections include most faculty at the UO.”

The objections are suspect because the Oregon University System already negotiates with an AFT local at Portland State that is similar to the broad one sought by the UO academics.

Last minute objections are often used as a tactic by employers to stall organizing campaigns because it gives them more time to undermine the drive. ERB has scheduled hearings on the administration’s objections for May 5-7, which will be seven weeks after the cards were submitted. Additional days of hearings may be needed before a recommended order is issued. That order can be appealed to the full ERB and to the courts.

After initially pledging to remain neutral, UO administrators spent $25,000 for a consultant to prepare a web page expressing common anti-union themes. More recently, acting UO President Robert Berdahl told UA-UO leaders that he was going to oppose the union. “Regardless of the outcome of the ERB proceedings, the university’s goal remains the same: to maintain a strong relationship with those who contribute to the university in all its endeavors — especially in its core mission of teaching, research and public service,” Berdahl said in a prepared statement.


  1. The UofO, home of the Labor Education and Research Center (LERC), and a proponent of Liberal Arts education…is hypocritical to its core.
    This is another reason I do not donate to my alma mater.
    Any readers who do donate to UO, give them an email or phone call, telling them you won’t be donating because of their anti-union stance.


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