Union Vote Shakes up UNM

By: Bill Whaley
14 October, 2019

 Provost Holloway and Concerned Faculty:

A Different Point of View in Response to Anti-Unionists below.

1.     As adjunct faculty I am more concerned about the quality of education and “human sciences and arts” than the rates of renumeration or requirements for tenured faculty. Some of us do out duty because of our “amateur” status or out of love for the discipline and the students not as a “profession.” Not everyone in New Mexico lives as a product of corporate commodification or sees himself or herself as a marker in the class struggle or a manifestation of sublimated consciousness. 

2.     Annually New Mexico finishes near last in childhood poverty, health, education while near the top in the abuse of drugs, drink, the toxic corollaries, petty political corruption or burglary in Albuquerque. Call it a failure of “humanism” and “education.” 

3.     What is the Flagship University doing?

4.     As adjunct faculty, in my English classes, this fall I am teaching about 70 Eng. 1110, 1120, 2210 students for little more than $2000 a class. I teach grammar because the public, private, and home-schools don’t and style as a combination of reading, writing, thinking aimed at clarity so that students can pursue degrees, jobs, and…think. 

5.     One needs to ask the University and State Department of Education and their research colleagues why public school teachers so often fail to prepare their students for either the world or higher education: not teaching grammar is like not teaching math to a physics student. If they can’t read and write they can’t do “STEM.”

6.     You should also question why the alleged “corporate business” model of the university hasn’t worked for the majority of state residents. For a number of years as technology (online education) has replaced live classes, the university has exploited individual synapses with more personal devices: creating another transcendent addiction and another learning disability.

7.     When I saw the Provost’s “title,” i.e. “Professor of Nuclear Engineering,” I understood the conventional ethics and practical accommodations the Provost et al made with a way of thinking that is at odds with a way of life in northern New Mexico, where the indigenous culture has practiced “communal adaptation” to “climate change” as a way of life for ten thousand years. 

8.     LANL, the sentimental home of all applied nuclear science, has poisoned generations of northern New Mexicans, trading lies and cancer for employment to those who would sacrifice health to support their families. Meanwhile, we downwinders–denizens of Taos— die in increasing numbers due to higher cancer rates from the effects of nuclear fallout in the air as do our fellow downstream Nortenos from polluted groundwater, both gifts from LANL.

9.      What ethics? What human research? 

10. Though he didn’t necessarily say “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is insanity,”  Einstein probably thought it.  Better to remember what Lew Wallace said: “Calculations based on experience elsewhere fail in New Mexico.” (If you don’t have much time, read Simone Weil’s “The Need for Roots.” Substitute America and New Mexico for France or read Philippa Foot’s “Natural Goodness”…the latter is quite brief.)

11. I don’t mind being a typical adjunct grunt or mule in terms of supporting academics on high salaries in cubicles and laboratories but let’s start working together for the population as a whole and not just the superstitious managers, regents, and politicos, who fear the pitchforks, represented by “the horror, the horror” of a union. In a modern university there’s no place for the abuse of [bureaucratic] reason and faith in irrational ends, when the reality of daily life is so pungent, so present, so tragically rich with opportunity to share the light of enlightened education.

Thanks,

William Whaley, M.A.

Adjunct Faculty

UNM-Taos

On Oct 13, 2019, at 5:50 PM, Concerned Faculty <concernedunmfaculty@gmail.com> wrote:

Dear UNM Colleagues,

This email is sent to you from a self-organized group of UNM faculty across ranks and departments that has serious concerns about the upcoming unionization vote, scheduled for October 16 and 17. In particular, little information has been provided regarding the downsides to unionization at a Research I Institution like UNM. Please refer to the attached document “Concerned Faculty” (Password = “UNM”) for more information, including links to supporting information, such as University of Washington resources, where faculty recently considered (and rejected) unionization. 

You can also find more information at UNMExcellence. org (please remove the space). Note that the Union, in a remarkable and alarming effort at deception, purchased the .com and .net versions of this URL to redirect traffic to their own site! Rather than suppressing views we disagree with, we encourage you to visit the union site as well, and see if you can find any information about what happens after the vote –here is their entire plan as of now (FAQ 3, What Happens After the Vote?): “The UNM Labor Management Board certifies the election results and we move into our next phase of talking to our colleagues about bargaining priorities and developing our organizational infrastructure.” That’s what you will be voting on. There is no information about which colleagues will be “talked to”, how the organization infrastructure will be developed, who gets a voice, etc. In short, “trust us”, all while they try to suppress the voices of faculty they disagree with.  

We believe that some key issues to consider include:

1. If salaries are your major concern, there is no convincing reason to believe that faculty salaries would compare more favorably with our peers if we had a union. Multiple studies have shown this (see the “Concerned Faculty” attachment for links, or the other two attached files, including the Chronicle of Higher Education study).  

 2. The proposed collective bargaining units are much too large and too varied to be beneficial. One unit includes adjunct employees, and the other includes 22 academic titles ranging from Professor to Research Professor to Instructor. The second of these is problematic. These positions lie across very different Departments and Schools with different histories, needs, and levels of teaching and research. Consider policies regarding teaching loads, for example: we would be trusting a small set of union representatives to negotiate a single agreement that covers everyone. Even a very large bargaining committee with extraordinary outreach is unlikely to reach contract terms that make sense institution-wide.

3. Along the same lines, unionization may result in increased teaching loads for faculty. After unionization, NM Highlands now requires all faculty to teach 12 credit hours per semester (Section 12 of their collective bargaining agreement, which is attached to this email). This could be why NM Highlands has been losing faculty since they unionized. It seems likely we will have a “one size fits all” set of rules across campus, shoehorning our diverse sets of needs into a prescriptive set of rules. 

4. Unionization can result in losses of academic freedoms we now enjoy, such as requirements to be on campus at designated times – for example, NM Highlands unionized and faculty are now required to be on campus for certain numbers of hours, times and days of the week (Section 12 of their agreement). 

5. While unionization may be appropriate for teaching colleges, only a handful of the 131 Carnegie Research I institutions (doctoral/research universities-extensive) are unionized. UNM has been doing a great job expanding its research mission, and unionization will greatly hamper that effort. Why? For one thing, faculty unions often deemphasize merit pay  – this is antithetical to attracting and retaining outstanding faculty at a premier research-intensive university. A report from the National Bureau of Economic Research (2016) supported the view that universities that unionize will face difficulty attracting and retaining the most productive scholars (see attachment for link). 

6. Finally, it is the wrong time to unionize. This proposal would have made a lot more sense 4 years ago. Now we have a new provost, president, and governor. We should give them a chance to address faculty concerns before taking on the long-term obligations of unionization. We can always unionize later, with better-conceived bargaining units, but going back is extremely difficult, if not impossible. 

Unionization is a great idea in the right setting and with the right plan. A Research 1 university is not the right setting, and essentially no plan has been provided – rather, all we are hearing is “trust us”. We encourage you to consider the issues presented above, read through the links, consider the pro-union arguments as well, and discuss with your colleagues to come to your own conclusions. At the very least we all need to be informed about how this critical decision will affect the quality of our work experience, as well as UNM’s missions to support our communities and to provide excellent education and research for a long time to come. 

Many faculty have complained that they should have been included on the eligible voter list. Note that if your time commitment for supervision of others is less than 50%, you should be eligible to vote, although your name may not appear on the voter list (for example, many faculty with “Director” in their title have been disenfranchised). In this case you should show up and vote anyway. Your vote should be recorded and it should be included in the tally later, if needed. 

Regardless of the outcome, let us all pledge to listen to each other and work together after the vote to address faculty needs across the board. 

If you wish to be removed from this list, please respond with “Remove” in the header. 


Sincerely,

Andrew Schuler, Professor, Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering

Diana Dragomir, Research Assistant Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy

Michael Angel Gonzalez, Lecturer II,  Department of Civil, Construction & Environmental Engineering

Wendy Hansen, Professor, Department of Political Science

Lisa J. Whalen, Principal Lecturer III, Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology

Dimiter N. Petsev, Professor, Chemical and Biological Engineering Department

Jose Cerrato, Associate Professor, Department of Civil, Construction & Environmental Engineering

Christopher Hall, Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering

Cassiano Endres de Oliveira, Professor, Department of Nuclear Engineering

Meeko Oishi, Associate Professor and Regents’ Lecturer, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Abhaya Datye, Distinguished Regent’s Professor, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering

Seth Newsome, Associate Professor, Department of Biology

Mahmoud Taha, Distinguished Professor and Regents Lecture, Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering

Martin Kirk, Distinguished University Professor, Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology

Adrian Brearley, Distinguished Professor, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences

Sang M. Han, Regents Professor, Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering

John J Russell,  Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering

Kerry Howe, Professor and Regents’ Lecturer, Department of Civil, Construction & Environmental Engineering

Ryan Webb; Research Assistant Professor; Department of Civil, Construction, & Environmental Engineering

Patrick J. McDaniel, Research Professor, Department of Nuclear Engineering

Francis-Yan Cyr-Racine, Assistant Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy

Gregory Taylor, Distinguished Professor, Dept of Physics and Astronomy

Ylva Pihlström, Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy

Hua Guo, Distinguished Professor, Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology

Yemane Asmerom, Professor, Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences

Jacob Collison, Research Assistant Professor, Department of Civil, Construction, & Environmental Engineering

Ivan Deutsch, Regents’ Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy

Dinesh Loomba, Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy

Pavel Lushnikov, Professor, Department of Mathematics and Statistics

Mousumi Roy, Associate Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy

<Concerned faculty v3 password UNM.pdf><What Good Do Faculty Unions Do? Chron of Higher Education.pdf><NM Highlands Collective Bargaining.pdf><Is there a union faculty salary premium.pdf>

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