From the President of the TAUP
—Arthur Hochner, Associate Professor of Human Resource Administration, FSBM
President, Temple Association of University Professionals (TAUP)
Arthur Hochner, TAUP President
The TAUP calls itself a “union of professionals.” But what does that mean? Some people expect us to focus solely on salaries and benefits. Recently, we expressed concerns about academic freedom and shared governance in the withdrawal of proposed funding for an Islamic Studies chair in the Department of Religion. Most reactions we received were positive; but a few questioned why we got involved at all—“Isn’t that an issue for the Faculty Senate?”
Academic freedom, shared governance, and tenure are fundamental working conditions, no less important than pay and benefits. Since the funding offer was withdrawn, it is not just the donors who are under attack but an eminent faculty colleague. Religion Professor Mahmoud Ayoub, now retired after a 20-year career here, is being demonized by political interest groups (see http://www.campus-watch.org/article/id/4659). TAUP stands for and with all faculty members. We are there when individuals need our help and we urge each individual to stand with us to help the whole group.
Our mission (see a fuller statement at www.taup.org) is to represent faculty, librarians, and academic professionals and to provide them a unified voice. We operate under democratic rules, speak to management in thoughtful ways, defend the interests of every member of the bargaining unit, and promote excellence in teaching, research, and service.
These aims are idealistic and aspirational. Nevertheless, they are also very practical. The best way for faculty and staff to be effective is to stand together. We all work in a complex research university with a budget of about $1.9 billion (see http://www.temple.edu/controller/treasurer's_reports). The realities of exercising effective power and influence with the administration and Trustees require us to respect all our colleagues’ views and to speak with one voice.
The relationship of TAUP to the Senate
In general, we work collaboratively with the Senate on common concerns, such as academic freedom. Two years ago, for instance, the archconservative activist David Horowitz and his followers urged the Pennsylvania General Assembly to pass a bill which was an attack on faculty independence and academic freedom. The House established a select committee, which held hearings around the state to look into the need for Horowitz’s legislation. TAUP and the Senate worked collaboratively to provide testimony to the committee and to discuss matters with legislators. Our efforts were successful. The final report of the select committee found no problems needing correction.
TAUP and the Senate have many other aims in common—upholding faculty involvement in shared governance, maintaining good relations between faculty and the administration, and improving the quality of education and scholarship, for instance. However, there are boundaries we do not cross. TAUP does not get involved in curricular issues or in academic administration. The Senate does not get involved in pay and benefits.
Three crucial distinctions between TAUP and the Senate
First, we have a legally-binding and enforceable contract negotiated with the administration. This not only influences the subjects TAUP raises; it also affects the attitude we have in dealing with the administration. Second, we are a dues-based membership organization. Our legal and financial resources allow us to have a great deal of independence from the administration. Third, we are affiliated with powerful networks of fellow academic unionists through the American Federation of Teachers, both in Pennsylvania and nationally. These connections provide us with legal, organizational, financial, legislative, and political clout that allow us to “think outside the box.”
Of course, we highly value the open communication we have with the current administration. TAUP Vice President Joyce Lindorff and I regularly meet with President Ann Hart, Provost Lisa Staiano-Coico, and Vice President for Human Resources Deborah Hartnett. This is a huge and welcome change from our relations with the administration led by President David Adamany. Like the Senate, we seek to talk things over and to come to mutual agreements.
As faculty, we naturally see ourselves and the administration as professional colleagues. Still, TAUP’s legal, financial and organizational resources give us legitimate equal status with administrators. So if or when our views and those of the administration diverge, we have options for action. During the Adamany administration, we took an openly adversarial and oppositional stance when we were confronted with dictatorial demands and actions. Cooperation and collaborative problem-solving are best, however, and we’re looking forward to taking that approach at the bargaining table.
Initiatives from the “union of professionals”
Our major activity over the coming year is to negotiate a new and better contract with the current one expiring on October 15, 2008. But we will have engaged a great variety of issues throughout the year.
A sampling of TAUP endeavors since the end of the spring 2007 semester:
- Conducted many productive discussions with Temple administration on:
- Campus safety in the wake of the Virginia Tech rampage;
- Improving the process and results of the Study Leave Committee;
- Establishing a new joint committee to improve faculty-dean relations and communication;
- Exploring the obstacles to more multi-year contracts for nontenure-track faculty (NTTs).
- Worked with Temple Student Labor Action Project to support the request of Temple security guards for sick leave, which they recently won.
- Worked with the playwrights to plan a future Philadelphia performance of a prize-winning play (Organizing Abraham Lincoln) about graduate students organizing a union. We applied for grants and received one so far.
- Pursued grievances and negotiated settlements for resolution on faculty being disciplined. Pursued arbitration on professional liability coverage for a faculty member being sued for libel over his published research. In the course of this case, we had to pursue charges with the state labor board against Temple administration for unfair labor practices, which we won.
- Met with administrators in our joint labor-management Work-Family Balance Committee. Conducted a survey that revealed the extent of stresses and strains caused by work-family issues.
- Met with administrators in our joint labor-management Health Care Cost Containment Committee to explore ways to solve the health care insurance problem we all face.
- Planned, organized and hosted the highly successful Forum on “Academic Freedom: Fact or Fiction?” held at Temple on November 2 with funding from the AFT and the Faculty Senate Lectures and Forums Committee.
- Met with Pamela Barnett, Director of TLC to discuss the role of teaching evaluations (CATEs) in faculty merit, promotion, tenure, and reappointment decisions.
Photo by Amanda Marlow
The November 2, 2007 "Dissent in America Teach-In" featured Joan Wallach Scott from the Institute of Advanced Studies in Princeton, as its principal speaker. An audience of about 60 people enjoyed a lively discussion of the issues the panel (pictured below) presented. Speakers (L to R) Maureen Whitsett, Ralph Young, Linn Washington, Carol Jenkins, Joan Wallach Scott, Art Hochner, and Jane Evans. [from http://www.taup.org/]
The current collective bargaining agreement is good, but there are things we negotiated with President Adamany that should be corrected. We have yet to formulate our actual contract proposals but one area for change from the Adamany era is shared governance. We need completely independent faculty decision-making on tenure, merit pay and study leaves, rather than having any faculty “representatives” chosen by administrators. We need to improve discipline and dismissal procedures. And of course, current economic conditions make difficult our ability to keep up with the cost of living and to secure our retirements, so inflation is a concern as are health insurance benefits.
One professional value we constantly have to struggle toward is professional dignity for all faculty. Too many do not have it. No longer can the tenured faculty consider only themselves “the faculty” and others as short-term temporary fill-ins. NTTs have become a very large proportion (almost 37%) of the total full-time faculty. We have to see all faculty as being professionals who deserve dignity and the professional and financial conditions that buttress it.
Idealism & Pragmatism
If TAUP is to be effective at the bargaining table, we have to unite all those we represent. We need to serve the remunerative and professional interests of all. Divisions only hurt our chances to gain the optimal compensation and professional conditions for any particular interest group or individual. That’s the way collective bargaining works.
That is also why it is important for all faculty, librarians, and academic professionals to join TAUP as dues-paying members. Membership is the lifeblood of the democratic process of TAUP, and the dues provide us with the financial resources we need. The more members we have, the more power we have at the bargaining table. Those who do not belong undercut the interests of their colleagues, not to mention their own. The best way to get your opinions and views heard is to join, vote and participate.
As the TAUP president, it is my job to represent everyone. Members need to have information to participate in the democratic process. They also need to understand the context for these data. The TAUP’s elected leaders work hard to provide a positive, unifying direction. And we all need encouragement to stand up for our principles, make good decisions and take action. I know—given the facts, given a positive direction and given a strong, clear voice—that faculty collectively will make the right choices and will stand together to uphold our common professional values and to advance our professional lives. That is what it takes to have a union of professionals.