Volume 15: Number 1, September, 2005

Tenured NIC Faculty Members Settle for $94,297

Two tenured NIC faculty were fired in March of this year, and after AFT and AAUP intervention, the NIC administration agreed to settle in July. It was the fastest grievance settlement ever for the IFT. In its 31- year history the IFT has now won 9 of 11 major cases. See this link for details on these cases.

The IFT retained Susan Weeks, a Coeur d’Alene attorney. and she said that she maintained the upper hand in negotiations for two primary reasons: (1) the strength of the faculty members’ case; (2) the state and national AFT were willing to pay their legal fees. The dollar amounts have not been released because of a confidentiality clause in the settlement.

Susan Andrews and Janet Anderson-Kluss taught in NIC’s Computer Information Technology (CITE) program. The administration charged that declining enrollments forced them to make the cuts. Over the past five years, however, CITE has graduated 323 students as opposed to 116 nursing graduates, the second largest number of associate degrees.

The faculty members’ case was also strengthened by the actions of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). The case was referred to the AAUP’s Committee A and a strong letter from its national office pointed out major violations of Andrews’ and Kluss’ tenure rights.

Andrews received $47,808 from the the Idaho Counties Risk Management Program, and Anderson-Kluss received $46,489. IFT’s only regret is that these two fine instructors will no longer be teaching these much needed classes.

ISU President Resigns after Faculty Vote No Confidence; Administrative Raises Main Reason

Although ISU President Richard Bowen was planning on retiring at the end of this academic year, his departure was hastened by a vote of no confidence in the ISU Faculty Senate. The vote was 17 for no confidence, 2 against, and three abstentions.

There were several issues at dispute, but it was recent administrative raises that compelled the faculty to act. At a faculty meeting on April 14, 2005, Bowen admitted that faculty salaries were a “grave problem,” but re-cently he approved raises as high as 28 percent for 36 of his administrators.

The argument for these raises was based on a claim that ISU administrators were 18 percent below “market rate,” while ISU faculty are only 10 percent below their peer institutions. Biology professor David Delehanty rejected these figures as “meaningless.” The 10 percent figures were an average across all ranks that obscured the fact that full professors are 20-40 percent behind.

Furthermore, a recent accreditation report praised the ISU faculty while offering substantial criticism for the administration. Finally, the Bowen administration claimed that “data were not available to examine individual faculty in comparison to peers by discipline and rank.” The fact is that ISU officials can access this information from the annual Oklahoma State University survey of faculty salaries in which data are presented in exhaustive alternative for-mats.

UI Administrative Salaries Outstrip Faculty; UI Financial VP Hired At $240,000

The UI Federation has been tracking administrative and faculty salaries for almost thirty years. Over 23 years UI administrators have enjoyed average raises of 213 per-cent while full professors have gained 139 percent. Over the last ten years, the president’s salary has gone up 108 percent; law dean’s, 85 percent; finance VP’s, 64 percent; and education dean’s, 53 percent. UI President Tim White has just hired an interim financial VP for a whopping $240,000, a 54 percent increase over the previous person in the post.

The justification given has always been “market demands,” and this would be acceptable if faculty had kept up. UI full professors in the following disciplines lag behind their peers by these percentage points: philosophy (-40); psychology (-38), family and consumer science (-36.5), sociology (-35), foreign languages (-34.3), political science (-33.1), teacher ed (-32.1), history (-31.6), business (-31.5), civil engineering (-29.9), ag economics (-29.6), theatre arts (-28.7), and chemistry (-26.7). For all UI salary details see this link.

UI Chairs Vote Against Dean

In May the department chairs of the UI College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences voted 9-5 against retaining Joe Zeller as their dean. UI President Tim White, however, defied faculty governance and decided to keep Zeller on.

For some inscrutable reason, Dean Zeller has placed himself on a self-destructive path ever since he overturned a unanimous faculty decision to allow art professor Glenn Grishkoff to continue on his path to tenure. (For more see this link.) In what appeared to be obvious retaliation, Zeller then proposed that the art department be eliminated to meet a budget shortfall. Zeller was forced to back down when faculty and students protested. In a challenge to his chairs Zeller actually initiated the vote of no confidence, and the first vote was a tie. After meeting with the Provost two chairs changed their vote making the final vote 9-5.

The AFT Just Keeps On Growing

While many national unions are losing members, professional and public sector unions keep growing. The AFT gained 38,788 new members in 2004-05. Since 1985 the AFT has doubled its membership. A modest part of this increase is the doubling of Idaho faculty who have joined the Idaho Federations of Teachers.

Why Not Democracy in the Workplace?

By Nick Gier, IFT President

The United States has been a leading defender of liberal democracy in the world. Why is it then that so many Americans appear to reject representative democracy in the workplace? The Bush administration promotes free trade unions abroad, but does everything in its power to thwart them stateside.

Moscow mayor Marshall Comstock’s recent comments (Moscow-Pullman Daily News, April 25) about a police union reveal this selective anti-democratic sentiment. Contrary to Comstock’s implications, unions are not some mysterious external force; rather, they are, just like any other human institution, made up of hard working men and women in all areas of employment, including medicine, sports, music, and all levels of teaching.

Medieval worker guilds gave us the self-governing principles on which the labor movement is founded. Employees elect their unions according to carefully monitored procedures, and they can vote out unions that fail to represent them properly.

In December of 1981 the Argonaut, the University of Idaho) student newspaper, the engineering dean declared that “we may as well live in Russia” if unions are recognized in higher education. The problem is that our governance system was sovietized long ago. Deans can veto department decisions (the Grishkoff case is a prime example) and presidents can overturn all lower decisions. Ultimately, the unelected State Board of Education (read: Politburo) can do anything that it pleases. It ignores faculty input, and the disrespect that it has shown to Marilyn Howard, its only elected member, is outrageous.  For more on problems with State Board of Education, see this link.

Comstock cannot understand why his police officers want to waste their money on union dues when they are complaining that they don’t make enough as it is. If the UI had gone to a salary scale based on the federal GS system, as the faculty union proposed in 1976, UI professors would have been at the top of their peers rather than at the bottom.

If we had negotiated a contract with that salary scale, and if we had received raises equivalent to federal workers, today I would make $50,000 more annually, out of which I could have easily covered my union dues, paid much more in taxes, gone to many more professional meetings, given much more to charity, and returned much more to the local economy.

Labor history is not taught very well in our schools and management has well honed anti-union disinformation programs, so Americans need to be reminded that unions brought them the 8-hour workday, safe working conditions, paid vacations, health benefits, generous pensions, and progressive socio-economic legislation. Millions of non-union workers have been “free riders” as they have enjoyed these benefits for decades.

Just as an example, unions led the successful passage of the Family and Medical Leave Act, which has allowed 50 million Americans leave-without-pay to care for their newborns or seriously ill family members. For decades most European countries, where the labor movement is much stronger, have provided up to three months paid leave for these purposes. Almost on every socio-economic statistic, countries led by Labor or Social Democratic parties do much better than the U.S.

It is often said that unions are not needed in companies and institutions that are run well and treat their employees fairly. But this is as absurd as saying that democracy is needed only when tyrants arise. George W. Bush hates tyrants and is also a political genius, so why don’t we save ourselves a lot of trouble and money and let him stay in office, along with his Republican majority, until they die?

Only employees know what their needs are, and it is presumptuous for any manager to preempt their right to self governance. Mayor Comstock believes that “a union will not benefit [his] officers,” but they have already decided otherwise. Those below the rank of sergeant have voted unanimously to be represented by the Service Employees Union International, the nation’s most successful and fastest growing union.

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