Negotiating with Temple
— Arthur Hochner, Associate Professor of Human Resource Administration, FSBM and President, Temple Association of University Professionals
President, Temple Association of University Professionals
The Faculty Herald asked Arthur Hochner,
President of TAUP, for his perspective on this year’s round of contract negotiations as compared to past experiences. Art is an Associate Professor of Human Resources Management in the Fox School of Business.
Faculty Herald: What is different and what is the same about this round of negotiations? Has the thaw in relations between the faculty and the administration during the Hart presidency shown itself in the conduct of negotiations?
Art Hochner: What’s different? This time the management negotiating team seems to operate as a team. In 2004-05, it was quite clear that only a few people on the other side had any influence at all. President David Adamany kept a very tight rein on his chief negotiator, an outside attorney named Mark Foley. The final deal was done in February 2005, with three people on the TAUP side of the table and two on the management side—who had President Adamany on the other end of the phone in their caucus room. Because of the lack of involvement, almost no one on management’s negotiating team knew the substance of the talks and what had been agreed to. That let President Adamany come up with his own novel and peculiar interpretations of the language, leading to years of controversy. For instance, he gave deans the impression that they didn’t have to give NTTs (nontenure-track faculty) the annual across-the-board raises. TAUP had to work with Human Resources to make sure those raises were given to everyone whose employment carried over from year to year. I expect that this time, the teamwork shown by the management team means that we will not have years of discord over the terms of the contract.
A second major difference is that management this time came with a short agenda of topics to change. The TAUP brought a comprehensive agenda of proposed changes this time, just as we had in 2004. But President Adamany wanted wholesale changes in promotion and tenure standards and procedures, management rights, discipline & dismissal, merit pay, the role of department chairs, the titles and treatment of NTTs and so on. This time, management’s agenda is mainly this: take the chairs out of the bargaining unit and make them managers; make all pay increases based on performance or merit; and create a new type of fixed-term librarian position, similar to our NTT faculty, ineligible for permanent (tenure-like) status. In fact, they told us they like the contract negotiated by Adamany and don’t want to change it.
In addition, last time there was more contentiousness at the table. However, there has been a negative attitude coming from management this time as well. Part of that stems from one feature that’s the same as last time, the presence of an outside attorney – this time, John Langel from Ballard Spahr – as management’s chief negotiator. This is only the second time in the nine times I’ve been at the table with Temple’s management (once I negotiated for TUGSA) since 1986 in which there has been an outside hired gun. Why President Ann Weaver Hart decided to continue with Adamany’s precedent, I don’t know. Joyce Lindorff and I used to meet with President Hart regularly, but she has stayed aloof since February.
However, there is much that’s the same as last time. I’ve been through so many negotiations and have taught negotiation skills in the Fox School for so long that I’m very familiar with most types of argumentation and have dealt with both agreement and disagreement. However, to point to one particular aspect, the legalistic attitude of the Adamany administration remains. In fact, this time there are four lawyers on management’s team, though we have none. In my 22 years, TAUP has never brought our lawyer to the table, and, until 2004, neither did management. The legal terminology, the constant focus on “the worst case scenario” when it comes to details of our proposals, and the bogus legal arguments made may be different this time but the approach is the same. I could go into details, if you want, but I don’t think it’s necessary. This approach is adversarial, unlike the problem-solving approach we expected from President Hart and Provost Lisa Staiano-Coico.
You know, there’s a huge disconnect between the pro-faculty and collaborative attitude that both the President and the Provost came in with and what’s going on at the bargaining table. They both seemed poised to reverse the historic mistrust between faculty and the administration. However, the adversarial approach the management team has adopted only seems to continue the old pattern. Many faculty have expressed puzzlement to me about this.
Faculty Herald: In what areas has there been the most progress since the last contract?
Art Hochner: There has been little progress at the bargaining table so far (late September). The most significant thing management has proposed seems to be their “work-life balance” proposal, a partial response to TAUP’s comprehensive and innovative proposal for parental leave and family flex-load. Their counterproposal would not grant a leave but would allow for tenured and tenure-track faculty to have their teaching load lifted for a semester after the arrival of a new child in their homes. But they would exclude the almost 40% of our bargaining unit that are NTTs, librarians and academic professionals. Aren’t they parents too?
We have talked a lot with the management team about our proposals and they say they have listened and thoroughly discussed our proposals. But their reluctance to agree to changes or to make counter-proposals, except on a very few issues, shows their unwillingness to share our view that there are problems to be solved.
Faculty Herald: In which areas has there been the most resistance to changes suggested by the faculty?
Art Hochner: This gets a simple answer: almost everything we proposed. TAUP handed out a flyer at our membership meeting on September 10, detailing the number of “no” responses we got to our proposals. There has been particular resistance to proposals of two kinds: to create more faculty participation in decisions and to limit management’s power to make unilateral decisions. These proposals include creating a joint committee on diversity, revising discipline and dismissal procedures and definitions; reviewing workload complaints; choosing and removing department chairs; hiring, reappointing and promoting NTTs; and creating an intellectual property policy on copyrights.
Faculty Herald: Has there been willingness on the part of the administration to address the numbers of NTT faculty or the conditions of their employment, promotion, or termination?
Art Hochner: As I’ve said, there has been a lot of discussion but little movement from management. They understand the issues we’ve brought up, but they seem unwilling to put anything in writing. It seems to be an attitude of “trust us.” However, personal trust is not sufficient, especially when the contract is silent on so many areas. Overall, of course, trust is a good thing. Our union-management relations have been very cordial since President Hart was hired. But we have to be prepared for potential changes in key personnel on both the management and the union sides. From our perspective, management spends too much time at the table just pointing out the few areas of our proposals they have some trouble with, rather than coming back to us with their ideas of how to fix those problems and to demonstrate their agreement with our main points.
Faculty Herald: How about the agency fee issue…. Has this issue been negotiated before? Have there been any alternative proposals?
Art Hochner: Agency fee has come up in every contract negotiation since 1987, when it was made legal in Pennsylvania. However, management refused it until 2005, when both sides agreed it would go into effect when TAUP achieves a paid membership level of 70% by November 1 of any given year. For the first time, management acknowledged and agreed with the basic principle. Such a threshold is very rare, however, and there is no such legislative mandate for it in this state. Agency fee costs the University nothing, so management’s resistance is very hard to understand, except as a way to weaken TAUP.
Indeed, when President Hart was president of UNH before she came to Temple, the faculty union there negotiated an agency fee with no threshold. At the time, their paid membership was about 55%. Her management team gave no resistance to it at all, according to local union officials at UNH. If it was good enough at UNH, why isn’t it good enough here at Temple?
TAUP was elected in 1973 by an overwhelming majority and has a membership of approximately 62%. We are obligated by law to represent everyone equally and we do so scrupulously, even when we have had to spend thousands of dollars – which come from members’ dues – to support and defend individual nonmembers, despite their not contributing to us.