Looking Back, Looking Forward:
A Forum on the Long Haul of Getting a Contract
A Forum on the Long Haul of Getting a Contract
In the wake of the agreement between the university and TAUP, the Faculty Herald sent out an open call for reflections on the process of negotiations and the results. We hoped not so much to rehash past events as to learn from them and provide some closure. Contributors to the forum were not shown each others' reflections. They are printed below in the order in which they were received.
From Laurence Steinberg,
Distinguished University Professor and Laura H. Carnell Professor of Psychology
In my letter to the Herald, last February, I argued that TAUP did not bring best interests of the more research-productive faculty to the bargaining table. I encouraged these colleagues to question whether it was really to their benefit to belong to TAUP and suggested that those who do belong ask whether the current TAUP leadership is one that they should continue to support. I heard from numerous colleagues after the letter was published, some who disagreed with me and others who shared my opinion. Everyone who wrote was cordial and thoughtful, and I had several long and amiable email exchanges with TAUP supporters who see things differently than I do.
In this letter, I look at the contract that TAUP negotiated and compare it to one that TAUP had earlier turned down. As I argued previously, and as I assert here, Temple’s productive scholars are not well represented by the TAUP leadership.
As of November 9th of last year, as reported in TAUP’s e-bulletin, the administration’s offer included across-the-board raises of 2%, 2%, 2%, and 1.75% for each of the four contract years (in that order). The administration’s offer included a merit pool of 1%, 1%, 1.5%, and 2%, and bonuses of .75%, .75%, .75%, and .25%, respectively. The contract that TAUP agreed to resulted in across-the-board raises of 0%, 2%, 2%, and 2%, respectively; merit pools of 1%, 1%, 1%, and 1%; and bonuses of 0%, .75%, .75%, and .75%. It is easy to see from a straight up comparison that faculty pay on average would be higher at the end of four years under the proposal that TAUP turned down than under the one it agreed to. I’m especially grateful to the administration that they saved me from having to pay TAUP a “fair share” for its negotiators’ wisdom.
More interesting, more telling, and consistent with my contention that TAUP favors those who are less productive scholars over their more accomplished colleagues, is that the four-year pay differences between the November administration proposal and the final contract are of different magnitudes for the meritorious and non-meritorious.
I modeled the difference between the final agreement and the administration’s November proposal for three hypothetical Full Professors, all earning about the average salary at this rank ($100,000) at the beginning of the new contract period. Professor One never earns any merit. Professor Two earns modest merit. Professor Three earns high merit. All models take into account across-the-board and merit raises as well as the bonuses, and take into account the compounding of salary increases over time.
By turning down the administration’s November proposal, TAUP’s negotiating team cost Professor One about $2,000 in salary over the four year period.
Incorporating merit into the model is a little trickier, but I did so for Professor Two using modest merit raises (2 units of $600 each) every year, with the same amounts for merit in the first two years under either arrangement (since both have equal merit pools in Years 1 and 2), but with slightly higher merit raises in the last two years under the declined arrangement than under the one TAUP negotiated, reflecting the substantially larger merit pool under the arrangement TAUP declined than the one it accepted (50% more money available for merit in Year 3, and 100% more in Year 4). In Years 3 and 4, Professor Two earned $1,200 in merit under the agreed-upon contract, but under the declined contract, Professor Two was awarded 50% more merit pay in Year 3 (since this is the magnitude of the difference between the Year 3 merit pools in the two agreements), and 100% more in Year 4 (ditto). TAUP’s negotiating team cost Professor Two about $4,000, or roughly twice what it cost Professor One.
Professor Three was even more disadvantaged by the TAUP negotiators. In my model, this highly meritorious colleague was awarded $2,400 per year (or four units) in merit pay under the final contract, but, under the one TAUP turned down, $2,400 in Years 1 and 2, $3,600 in Year 3 (i.e., 50% more), and $4,800 in Year 4 (i.e., 100% more). TAUP cost our accomplished friend close to $6,000, or three times what it cost underachieving Professor One.
Bear in mind that these monetary differences are understated, because higher base pay today means increasingly higher base pay over time (because the increases are compounded), and because higher base pay also results in a higher contribution to one’s retirement account. One can quibble with the specifics of my assumptions (how many merit units, what each unit is worth, etc.) and the absolute figures they resulted in, but the fact that the meritorious faculty were worse served by TAUP’s negotiating team than were their less accomplished colleagues is incontrovertible. It is also consistent with TAUP’s approach historically, which always emphasizes across-the-board increases at the expense of merit pay.
Yes, there is more to a contract than salary, and perhaps the TAUP negotiators served the faculty well in other respects. But these other gains affect all faculty members equally. The union’s self-congratulatory letters to the faculty may be signed off with the phrase “in solidarity,” but it is clear that some comrades benefit more from TAUP than others. Not surprisingly, those who benefit relatively more are the ones at the negotiating table.
From Benjamin Kohl,
Associate Professor, Geography and Urban Studies
Temple has been very good to me professionally and personally. It has supported my research and development as an instructor, and invited me to teach in Rome. It has educated (and continues to educate) my children at SCAT, Tyler and TUJ. For that I am grateful — my commitment to Temple extends across five colleges.
Yet the last year has left a bitter taste in my mouth. The president, who could have rallied the community during tough economic times, instead took an intransigent stance towards the faculty and staff through her choice of negotiators and negotiating style. We failed as a union (and I as a member) to do the admittedly tough task of convincing the proverbial herd of cats to act like a collective body. The faculty, if we take activity and public debate as surrogates for involvement, seemed largely detached from the process. The students, nominally at center of the institution, largely appeared unaware of the process, unconcerned with either the outcome or issues of university governance.
Yes, we got a contract. Yes, we did better than our friends in California or Arizona and, closer to home, at AFSCME, who we left hanging out to dry. (And I hope that the nurses will be able to retain tuition benefits, which seems fair given Temple’s mission.) However, we all, from top to bottom—president, union, board, faculty, students—missed an opportunity to use the combination of negotiations and the ‘economic crisis’ to address core issues of university mission and governance. The process reinforced my understanding that it is both difficult to mobilize white collar workers and also that the time to build a union or goodwill (from the administration's point of view) is before negotiating begins.
I understand the fundamental asymmetry of the relationship of an individual worker to an institution. Yet I still feel, apparently naively, that I am a member of the university community with a relationship that is more than a simple economic arrangement. I felt betrayed by the president who could find little for faculty and staff and didn’t even wait for the contract vote before she announced a $500 million expansion plan to build a ‘new soul’ for the university. I was distressed by the repeated messages—prove your worth, go on the market—from some colleagues that we are (and should be) rewarded for individual ‘productivity’ and our value as commodities rather than for being responsible members of the university community.
The results of the process are not simply that our cost of living adjustments—what the administration calls ‘across the board’—will not keep up with inflation, but more importantly that if we fail to act like a union, faculty and staff will become increasingly marginal to the broader governance of the university. This is the paradox of the university in the neoliberal age. On the one hand it can’t function without the good will and active citizenship (non-market behavior) of faculty to mentor students, serve on committees, or as department chairs. On the other hand the institutional logic leads the administration to reward individual productivity and squander the goodwill it needs for the university to function.
Five hundred million dollars can buy a lot. Perhaps the president should consider directing some of it to the human capital that I believe contributes to the ‘soul’ of the university. Otherwise the president’s message is that only dupes are good citizens. And I hate to think of what Temple would become if that were the real lesson of the last year.
From Philip Yannella,
Professor, English and American Studies
Because I have been at Temple a long time, I understood the recent negotiations as part of a history. Many relative newcomers to Temple may not know what that means. So I will briefly recite some relevant points of the history as I remember them and as they are presented in old news articles and union documents, and then go on to comment on the recent negotiations
The Temple-TAUP relationship has been rough for decades. In 1982, Temple dismissed fifty-eight tenured or tenure-track faculty; it was later censured by the AAUP for that action and was only removed from the censure list years later, when it agreed to comply with AAUP protocols on tenure and academic freedom. In 1984, a strike was averted five hours before it was to begin when the union won contract language that strengthened tenure. In 1986, there was a long strike over economic issues that ended in a settlement negotiated (actually, imposed) by a municipal court judge during an injunction hearing. In 1990, there was another long strike and another injunction.
I thought that the Temple–TAUP relationship had matured after the 1990 strike, which first and foremost meant to me that Temple had accepted the union as a fact of its ongoing life. But then I began to hear administrators say that faculty unionism would not long survive at the “New Temple.” As in the bad old days of the 1980s, Temple’s administrators seemed to believe that the union was weak. In the old days, they thought it was weak because it would never strike (some faculty said that, too), while in the new days, they thought it was weak and could not hold together because they said it was comprised of several groups with profoundly diverse interests: a group of older Presidential faculty, a recently recruited group of Presidential faculty who were too good to support a smarmy union, a very large group of mostly underpaid NTT faculty fearful about keeping their jobs, academic professionals, and librarians. All that was needed to make the union go away forever, or to be effectively gutted, was a little push by tough and brave Temple managers, it was said. I thought this new thinking, which apparently became the conventional wisdom by 2004 or so, was as dangerous and wrongheaded as the old thinking had proven to be.
With no settlement in sight as of last May, I thought we were going to end up having another strike or at least a lot of mayhem this academic year. So I was elated when I heard that a settlement had been achieved.
I was of course profoundly happy that Temple, in spite of all its direct dealing, disinformation efforts, veiled threats, attempts to enervate through delay, attempts to use the national economic crisis as a lever, short-sighted attempts to use deans to deliver its messages, and whatnot, got at the bargaining table exactly what it deserved. It got no givebacks and it achieved nothing on its two big issues, the control issue of getting the department chairs out of the bargaining unit and the core economic issue of beginning a union-killing pay-for-performance plan. I gather it simply took its big demands off the bargaining table. There were not even any face-saving words about the achievement of a win-win contract. I’ll guess that the only person on the Temple side who actually got anything out of the negotiations was the outside attorney they hired; at a pay rate of a few hundred dollars per hour, he must have walked away with his pockets crammed with cash.
I was impressed by TAUP’s leaders. I think that they spoke and wrote truthfully throughout the negotiations. I think they were professional. I think they handled the union’s internal disputes with grace and patience. The 2008 to 2012 contract they negotiated for us is better than anything I imagined we could get and better, I believe, than any other academic union has gotten in these tough times.
From George Moore,
I was a first-time member of the University’s negotiating team in the recently concluded TAUP negotiations. From 1990 until last year, I served as an adviser to the Temple negotiating team. These are my observations and impressions:
• The TAUP negotiating team unduly prolonged the negotiations – first, by rejecting an offer in Spring 2008 to continue the existing contract for an added year (from 10/08 to 10/09) with the same annual increases (totaling 3.75%) while Temple and TAUP discussed the details of requested changes such as work-life balance and sabbaticals; and then by rejecting the University’s generous economic offer in fall 2008, while insisting on mandatory “fair share” or agency fee payments by all to TAUP and its parent unions.
• The TAUP team did not appear interested in an open dialogue on the issues. TAUP tried to silence the University’s attempts to advise the entire University community on the status of negotiations by filing unfair labor practice charges on almost every University communication – whether by the President, the Provost or anyone else. TAUP then tried to suggest that the President was aloof from the negotiations.
• TAUP was comfortable in diminishing incentives for individual performance, insisting on an over-emphasis on across-the-board increases. It rejected, for example, the University’s proposal of tying one-half of annual increases to meritorious performance, when merit-based compensation is a predominant element of salary increases at major research universities throughout the United States. The University was told that unions don’t like merit.
• TAUP repeatedly resorted to public ad hominem attacks on the Temple team and President Hart, which did nothing to hasten a settlement. Tactics such as demonstrating with a pink elephant, wearing oversize lapel pins with trite sayings, attacking the integrity and commitment of University representatives, and purchasing negative and misleading ads may be standard industrial union tactics, but do not reflect positively upon the faculty at a highly-regarded university.
• The words spoken across the negotiating table confirmed for us that a primary TAUP aim in the negotiations was to get mandated “fair share” payments to it and its parent union, even if that meant not getting the best deal for the faculty at Temple. There was nothing in the final settlement that the University was not prepared to do in October 2008. The change in date for determining the requisite 70% union membership for imposition of fair share (from 11/1 to 12/1) means only that TAUP will have another month to solicit faculty to join and will be a month further removed from the narrow October 1 to October 15 window when faculty have the right to withdraw from TAUP each year.
From Arthur Hochner,
TAUP President & Associate Professor of Human Resource Management, Fox School of Business & Management
We Achieved Much in the Past Year
Looking back at the year since the Herald last interviewed me is interesting but risky. Does reviewing the past further imperil faculty-administration ties? A year ago, the relationship between the administration and the union had gone from cordial and cooperative to distant and adversarial.
Now, President Hart and I are again on good speaking terms. Recently, at the Diamond Club, we shared a meal and talked. The administration cooperated in getting the raises in our September paychecks. TAUP and management will soon discuss implementing other new aspects of the agreement.
Still, there are lingering questions about what happened this past year. Let me deal with two of them. (1) Was the struggle over the past year worth it? (2) Is it now possible to go forward together in the spirit of collaboration and joint problem solving?
Was it worth it?
A few have said that the offer we rejected a year ago was better than what we got. Not true. Many key features of the new contract were not on the table from management last fall. Virtually all of management’s top priorities at that time were eventually dropped. We have a vastly better deal now.
Economics: In November 2008, management proposed a total of 3.75% a year for 4 years in a combination of across-the-board (ATB), merit, pay-for-performance (PFP), and bonus. What we now have is 1% for year 1 and 3.75% in ATB, merit and bonus for years 2, 3, and 4. Is that worse? Only if you ignore the details.
What we have that was not in management’s economic proposal in the fall:
• Decent, steady ATB raises
• Maintenance of the merit system
• Increased minimum salaries
• Increased promotion raises
• Bigger pension contributions for NTTs
• Increased overload pay
• Increased summer research award stipends
• New application procedures for increased compensation awards
What we do not have in the final agreement that management wanted:
• PFP, which was supposed to shift focus from merit’s “exceptional” and “outstanding” performance to “satisfactory or better” performance. An increasingly large part of raises would have been variable and dependent on administrators’ judgments. Management would issue guidelines with minimal input from us.
• A fund of $852,000 for distribution to a select group of faculty not identified to TAUP and based on a salary study that management would not share.
Noneconomic issues: On sabbaticals, NTT procedures and guidelines, promotion and tenure we made major improvements since last fall. The details would take more space than I have here. These provisions directly affect research faculty and teaching faculty alike, not to mention Temple’s educational and scholarship missions.
With regard to fair share / agency fee, TAUP negotiated a modest improvement. This issue caused controversy because it was repeatedly said, without foundation, to be the issue holding up a settlement.
Despite some debate, our members stuck with our negotiating strategy. Our membership numbers remain high and our union is strong. We hope to achieve the 70% membership level that will trigger fair share for nonmembers.
Where do we go from here?
Can we work more cooperatively with Temple administration? The signals are mixed. Some contentious issues remain. TAUP filed a charge of unfair bargaining – direct dealing – which was heard by the state Labor Relations Board. It is proceeding, though TU wants it declared moot now that the contract is settled. Administrators took a legalistic stance over a mild resolution in the Senate regarding negotiations and called for a quorum – which has never been required in my recollection. Witnessing faculty debate choked off was deeply disturbing.
On the other hand, the new contract provides a vehicle for problem solving. Some provisions require changes in behavior, for both faculty and administrators. We need to educate everyone about new or revised procedures – including such key provisions as sabbaticals, NTT rights, promotion and tenure procedures and rights.
TAUP and Temple administration need to work together to convince the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to adequately fund Temple and public higher education institutions. We want Temple education to be the high-quality, low-cost option. Temple must remain an important point of access for students of all socio-economic strata and backgrounds.
There will always be points of disagreement. However, our collective voice is important. Faculty and staff are more than employees; we are the vital lynchpin of this institution. Our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions.
I am pleased that in a tough environment we have been able to improve those conditions. But much more work needs to be done.