Poll: Not much support for University of Oregon union

EUGENE — A survey conducted by the executive committee of the University of Oregon Senate shows little support for a new labor union that could represent faculty and some administrators.

Those taking part in the e-mail poll opposed a union by a 2-1 ratio. The Register-Guard newspaper reports that 45 percent of the 2,307 people who received a survey responded to it.

Biology professor Nathan Tublitz, president of the UO Senate, said turnout was higher than expected. He acknowledged the poll did not follow the random sampling methods used to prepare a statistically valid survey. He called it "just a snapshot of views."

Union supporters dismissed the results and said an organizing effort will continue.

"I don't think we're any wiser after the poll," said history professor David Luebke. "It is what it is. My sense from talking with my colleagues wouldn't have produced the same result at all."

The idea of a bargaining unit to represent faculty members and midlevel administrators has been around since 2007, though visible efforts to organize only began last fall. Several informational meetings have been held and union representatives have set up an office near campus.

The organizing group is called United Academics of the University of Oregon.

The poll shows a higher level of opposition than a similar one last year that attracted significantly fewer responses. Some believe support is fading because faculty members are optimistic about Richard Lariviere, the new university president.

Economics professor Bill Harbaugh, who opposes the union, thinks that's the case. A critic of former UO President Dave Frohnmayer, Harbaugh said the atmosphere has changed since Lariviere's arrival.

"The faculty just want to teach and do our research. We will suffer a lot of bad administration before we get involved. And suffer we have," he said. "But now we've got a new president, he's finally made some concrete improvements and honestly, I think this union idea is now toast. But the organizers should be praised for stepping up to the plate on this; they obviously made a difference."

The UO already has two unions, one representing about 1,400 classified workers and another representing more than 1,300 graduate teaching assistants and research assistants. Faculty unions exist at four of the state's seven public four-year universities.

Share This Story