St. John's-AAUP Newsletter

No. 2 Fall 2008

 

In this Issue:

A Short History of Our Two Unions

What Does Yeshiva Mean for St. John's?

The Spring 2008 Re-run Election

St. John's Hosts Annual New York State AAUP Conference

The Importance of Joining the National AAUP

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Next Issue:

Understanding the Contract

Family Leave & Daycare

New, Improved STJ-AAUP Website for Membership & Information

Reader Requests: Email to ganterg@stjohns.edu for comments, debate, and discussion.

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A Short History of Our Two Unions

Much to the puzzlement of new faculty, the bargaining unit at St. Johnís has two parts: the Faculty Association (FA), and the local chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). This joint bargaining system was first recognized by the St. Johnís administration in 1970 because the faculty could not come to consensus about which union to represent it. Although the initial reasons for having two unions have become largely moot over the past 30 years, the Yeshiva decision by the Supreme Court in 1980 has made the possibility of uniting the two unions a risky idea (see the article, ďWhat Does Yeshiva Mean for St. Johnís?Ē in this issue).

 

The local AAUP chapter was founded at St. Johnís in the early 1960s. It played a strong role leading to the events of the historic 1966 strike and the censure of St. Johnís by the national AAUP, which lasted between 1966 to 1971. The fallout from the strike was so bitter that many faculty wanted a union with a clean slate and a new name, and hence the Faculty Association was created in 1970.

 

Historically, the FA saw itself as a fierce advocate for faculty salaries and benefits at the bargaining table. Although the AAUP chapter was also motivated principally by a desire to improve pay and benefits, it has also been concerned with national developments in faculty governance, advocacy, and the profession as a whole. Over the past decades, if the AAUP has been faulted for lacking a confrontational attitude, the FA has been accused of not always picking its battles carefully.

 

The following narrative is based on Joseph Scimecca & Roland Damiano's 1968 Crisis at St. John=s, Fred Hueppeís 1973 essay in Faculty Unions and Collective Bargaining, and Barbara Morris=s 1977 dissertation, To Define a Catholic University. It is worth reminding readers who may be new to St. Johnís that the events described here were extremely traumatic. Many who still work here live with very painful memories of this history.

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The 1966 Strike

Woefully underpaid, the faculty formed a local chapter of the AAUP in 1961. St. Johnís President Flynn refused to recognize this organization, and so did his successor, Father Burke, when it again petitioned for recognition in 1963. The chapter met off campus and its officers were from the arts and sciences. Faculty in the AAUP tended to be older, moderate in their views, and accustomed to Vincentian authority on campus. Their meetings numbered about 100, and they were particularly interested in the improvement of salaries, benefits, and faculty governance.

 

Educated in the crucible of trade union activity in Chicago and frustrated by the AAUP's inability to achieve administrative recognition, Father Peter O=Reilly formed an even more radical chapter, the United Federation of College Teachers (UFCT) in 1964. The UFCT had younger faculty, and about 50 members, some of whom were openly hostile to Vincentian authority on campus. Anxious about the radicalism of the UFCT chapter at St. John's, President Burke finally decided to recognize the AAUP chapter in 1964.

 

So by the end of 1964, there were two unions on campus with very different philosophies of activism. Both moderates and radicals agreed, however, that the university needed to develop stronger faculty governance over curriculum and better pay. For example, prior to 1967 the university senate had only an advisory role to an Executive Committee of five Vincentians on the Board of Trustees.

 

Although the university attempted to quell faculty unrest in 1965 by initiating a self-study for modernization, a distrust of the administration had formed even among moderate faculty. The self-study council completed several reports but adjourned in turmoil and without conclusion in August 1965.

 

After both unions voted to picket classes, newly appointed President Cahill and the Board dismissed approximately 22 faculty in December of 1965, and another 11 had their contracts non-renewed the following June. These terminated faculty, largely UFCT members from Philosophy and English, were fired without hearing or charges, contrary to the university's own statutes at the time.

 

In response, the unions began a semester-long strike in January 1966 with significant faculty support. Figures vary, but between 80 and 180 faculty (of about 516 total) boycotted their classes.

 

After a prompt investigation, the national AAUP censured the St. Johnís administration until 1971, issuing a statement asking prospective faculty not to accept appointments at St. John's until the censure was lifted. The Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools put St. John's accreditation on probation through 1967. In consequence, talented new faculty became hard to attract, and some of St. John's best faculty voluntarily left the institution.

 

Over the next four years, the university made significant concessions to the faculty, such as granting the senate more power to determine curriculum. It was rumored, however, that the administration also began to defuse faculty opposition from within by packing the local AAUP chapter with administration-friendly Vincentian members.

 

In 1970, when faculty were asked which union they wanted to represent them for collective bargaining, both the UFCT and AAUP had acquired negative connotations. Many older faculty were angry about having their campus censured by the national AAUP, feeling that the AAUP had impugned them personally. Other faculty felt that the local AAUP chapter had too many Vincentian members enrolled in it, and they thought it might really turn out to be a Trojan horse gifted to them by the administration. Unfortunately for the UFCT, since its dismissed leaders had lost their appeals in arbitration, few wanted to be associated with their fate. The FA was thus born as a local alternative to the AAUP and the UFCT.

 

Two referenda were held with none of the 3 union choices receiving a clear majority. After the second referendum, the president approved a joint bargaining system of the FA and the AAUP (the UFCT having thrown its supporters to the FA after the first referendum). In 1970, St. John's was the first private college in the United States where the faculty collectively bargained their contract.

 

Although the union movement on campus was painful, the pay and benefits St. John's faculty currently have are the result of their unionization. During their first contract, faculty received 21% pay raises across the board over two years; a summer pay rate of 1/36 fulltime salary per credit; a 10%-for-5% university contribution for TIAA/CREF; and major medical insurance, as well as the universityís adoption of meaningful grievance procedures and the AAUPís1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and the 1966 Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities. 

 

Because the initial motives for two separate unions have diminished over time, some ask why the two have not joined. The simple answer is that any change would require formal review by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which could result in the decertification of both unions.  

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What Does Yeshiva Mean for St. John's?

In 1980, the Supreme Court ruled that fulltime faculty at Yeshiva University could not unionize because they had a high degree of faculty governance. Many faculty were, the court reasoned, managerial employees and supervisors and not workers (NLRB v. Yeshiva Univ., 444 U.S. 672, 103 LRRM 2526 (1980). The ruling put a chill on most unionizing activity at private colleges and universities since 1980. 

 

Private colleges that unionized before the Yeshiva decision live with the anxiety that their administrations might ask their certification be reviewed by National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). This fear is legitimate. Of the 88 private university faculty unions that existed prior to Yeshiva, 26 discontinued collective bargaining in the following 10 years (Saltzman 1998; Douglas). St. John's might lose its unions if they were put under scrutiny by the NLRB at the request of the administration. 

 

However, over the past 20 years some schools have nonetheless had their unions certified by the NLRB, such as the University of Great Falls Montana (1996), and Manhattan College in 1999 ("Faculty Sidestep"). The NLRB reviews schools on a case-by-case basis, looking at a variety of faculty and administrative factors. At Manhattan College, for example, it found that even though faculty served on a number of college standing committees, they were not in the majority. As a result, the NLRB concluded that the faculty were advisory rather than managerial. (Although the Manhattan faculty earned the right to collectively bargain, they later voted not to unionize.)

 

Technically speaking, St. John's entire bargaining unit could be swept away by a negative ruling by the NLRB. The reforms that led up to St. John's historic role as the first private institution to collectively bargain ironically make the St. John's faculty particularly vulnerable to the litmus tests utilized by the Supreme Court in the Yeshiva decision---St. John's faculty exercise power over many elements of curriculum and university governance, even though they often serve alongside administrators on many committees. 

 

But in practical terms, it seems unlikely that the administration would seek to dismantle the collective bargaining system at St. John's unless negotiation became so dysfunctional that the university was unable to operate.

 

At stake is far more than administrators getting mad at union leaders over tough issues in the contract: the 1966 strike was so catastrophic, and left such lasting scars that the university only began to recover in the 1990s. Attacking the unions at St. John's would probably result in such destruction that both faculty and administrators would rather avoid that outcome.

 

Works Consulted 

Annuziato, Frank. "Unionization Among College Faculty," National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education & the Professions Newsletter 23 (July/August 1995): 4.

 

Douglas, J.M. "The Impact of NLRB v. Yeshiva." Journal of Collective Negotiations in the Private Sector 19.1 (1990): 1-28.

 

Euben, Donna R. "Academic Labor Unions: The Legal Landscape" Academe (Jan/Feb 2001)

            <http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3860/is_200101/ai_n8932154>

 

"Faculty Sidestep the Yeshiva Decision" Academe (Jan/Feb 2001)

            <http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3860/is_/ai_n8929269>

 

Saltzman, Gregory M. "Higher Education Collective Bargaining and the Law." NEA  Almanac of Higher Education (2001): 45-58. <http://www.albion.edu/econ/saltzman/Labor_law,_2001_NEA_Almanac.pdf>

 

---.  "Legal Regulation of Collective Bargaining in Colleges and Universities." NEA Almanac of Higher Education (1998): 45-63

<http://www.hawkeyecollege.edu/faculty/jmixdorf/NEA/2005_NEA_ALMANAC/Resources/almanac/Almanac_2003/cb07.pdf>

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The Spring 2008 Re-Run Election

During the school year 2007-8, the AAUP local chapter election was successfully challenged by some of the defeated candidates. Although the losing slate was unable to get re-elected in two consecutive elections, the controversy helped to make sure that the election process would be better handled in the future. Improved membership lists for the nominations, and a mailed-ballot system overseen by the American Arbitration Association were adopted.

 

In late May 2007, Frank Camerano, acting as recording secretary on behalf of 7 aggrieved members of the AAUP, wrote to the incumbent AAUP leaders complaining of several violations in the conduct of the May 2-3, 2007 election. By August they referred their complaints directly to the US Department of Labor. 

 

After campus visits and review, the state labor investigator, Mr. Henry Fleary, concluded that the election had been improperly conducted. The US Department of Labor report, issued on October 10, found 8 violations, principally that some ineligible members had been allowed to vote, and that incumbent AAUP officers had handled the election paperwork.

 

At stake was not simply whether violations had occurred (many elections have technical violations of protocol)---it was whether the violations likely changed the outcome of the election. Mr. Fleary asked if the St. Johnís AAUP Executive Committee would consent to a re-run of the election---the Executive Committee unanimously agreed.

 

Leading up to the March 2008 re-run election, the opposition candidates headed by Frank Camerano lobbied very hard with direct mailings and strong attacks against the incumbent leadership. The Camerano slate ran on a platform that included prohibiting non-union members from voting on the contract, and trying to merge the two unions. At the same time, they sought endorsement from the Faculty Association leaders, telling them that if they did not get FA leadership support, they would run against them in their own upcoming election. The FA leaders chose not to support either slate. The Camerano slate was defeated by a narrow margin in the re-run AAUP election. Two months later, the normal annual election was run according to rules agreed upon in consultation with the Department of Labor. The outcome was as follows:

 


President

            Frank LeVeness           84

            Frank Camerano            50

           

Vice President

            Somnath Pal                81

            Anthony Sabino             51

 

Corresponding Secretary

            John Greg                    90

            Andrew Russakoff          44

 

Recording Secretary

            Bill DiFazio                  82

            Joyce Furfero                 52

 

Treasurer

            Theresa Barz               78

            Joan DeBello                 56

 

Exec Council--Professional Studies

            Catherine Ruggieri      86

            Melvin Berkowitz            47

 

Exec Council--Education

            John Spiridakis            unopposed

 

Exec Council--Library

            Joan DíAndrea             unopposed

 

Exec Counci--Pharmacy

            Frank Barile                 unopposed

 

Exec Council--St. Johnís

            Granville Ganter          74

            Alison Hyslop                53

 

Exec Council--Tobin

            Joe Giacalone             unopposed

 

Exec Council At Large (3)       

            Charles Traina             89

            Bill Keogan                  77

            Ed Beckenstein            76

            Sreedhar Kavil               46

            Carlo Muzio                   54

            Lawrence Wander          49

 

Greivance Officers (4)

            John Greg                    91

            Theresa Bartz              82

            Charles Traina             80

            Somnath Pal                75

            Joyce Furfero                 54

            Tom Giordano                52

            Anthony Sabino 4          6

            Ralph Stephani              40

           

Collective Bargaining Congress

            Frank LeVeness           80

            Frank Camerano            54


 

New chapter elections of the AAUP will henceforth be conducted by a mailed ballot; more reliable voter lists can now be obtained by from the national AAUP office; incumbent officers will not do any of the work of the election nominating committee.

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St. John's Hosts Annual New York State AAUP Conference

At the invitation of members of St. John's local AAUP chapter, the New York State chapter of the AAUP held a conference at St. John's on April 18, 2008. Tom Policano, Executive Director of the New York AAUP, presided. St. John's chapter representatives requested the meeting as means of seeking guidance from the State chapter for concerns raised during the May 2007 election, where Frank LeVeness defeated Frank Camerano for chapter president in a contested election.

 

The petitioners, including Frank Camerano, Tom Giordano, and others, were granted two hours for the state chapter representatives to hear their complaints. The petitioners wanted to merge the two unions on campus (FA and AAUP); they wanted to disallow nonunion members from voting on the contract; they felt that the present AAUP members had not worked within their own constitution, faulting regular treasury reports & chapter meetings.

 

The petitioners engaged in several prickly exchanges with Bill DiFazio, who spoke on behalf of the incumbent chapter administration. DiFazio said that the election and treasury irregularities were being worked out to the satisfaction of the national AAUP office, and that the petitioners' idea of prohibiting all faculty from voting on the contract was illegal.

 

The state representatives said they did not want to referee disagreements between the two groups. Rather, they wanted to offer their help to strengthen the local chapter. In particular, they offered advice on two points: increasing membership and managing grievances.

 

First, they said that any change to the FA-AAUP structure in the present climate of NLRB rulings could decertify both unions on campus. They recommended keeping the present two-union structure, and suggested working a standard fee into the next contract where full-time faculty would pay combined dues for both unions, or otherwise donate that money to a neutral recipient, such as a library fund. In comparison with most other union dues, the combined dues of $280 would be a small amount, and both unions would benefit equally.        

 

And second, they felt that the grievance procedure, where the presidents of both the FA and AAUP must agree on a case for action, was awkward and could use improvement.

 

At the end of the meeting, the state AAUP leaders said that they were very impressed about the terms of the last contract. This contract was negotiated principally by the incumbent AAUP leaders, Frank LeVeness, Somnath Pal, and John Greg, and FA leaders, Pauline Magee-Egan, Joe Marotta, and Bill Gangi (Frank Camerano substituted when Gangi was teaching in Rome).

 

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Joining the National AAUP

One of the peculiarities of the AAUP national membership is that members who support local chapters are not actually part of the AAUP unless they pay those state and national dues as well. The dues are $180 combined for full time faculty (part- time is $46) who reside in New York state. A supporter of the local chapter of the AAUP-St. Johnís costs an additional $50. The total cost is thus $230 dollars per year to be both a national member of the AAUP, and a supporter of the local chapter.

 

Chapter supporters often ask why they have to pay national dues. After all, the Faculty Association currently charges $50 dollars a year to vote in their elections.

 

The answer is that AAUP requires national membership as a means of swelling its ranks. As with many unions, membership is down since the 1970s. But the salaries and benefits faculty currently have at St. Johnís are the result of one thing: unionization. James Monks, writing in the Spring 2000 issue of the Journal of Labor Research, found that unionized faculty make between 7-14% more than their non-unionized counterparts. The stronger our unions, the better our working conditions. Joining the national membership is an important part of staying in touch with the profession and protecting our collective future as university faculty. Faculty may join online at <aaup.org>.

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