Oct. 12. A growing outbreak of Covid has forced the university to switch to online classes. The New Haven Independent reports that 100 people on campus have tested positive for Covid.
a letter in response to the article immediately below
from Lionel Williams 8/9/2020
Higher Education institutions have consistently tried to drive down compensation for both tenure track faculty and adjuncts while expanding the number of administrators and overcompensating them. I negotiated contracts for faculty unions from the period of 1976 to 1988. Within that period, the claim was made by private universities and colleges that faculty were self-governing and did not fall under the applicable labor laws. In 1980, the Supreme Court issued a decision, NLRB v. Yeshiva University, ruling that tenure-track faculty are "managerial employees" and therefore excluded from protection under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
My experience representing faculties at two Connecticut universities, University of New Haven and Quinnipiac, demonstrates that while legal rights are important, equally and sometimes more significant, is the unity of a group of employees who may, or may not, have enforceable legal rights but nonetheless, are able to utilize their power to win a strong contract.
After I negotiated a contract and won a number of grievance arbitrations at the University of New Haven, management raised the issue of Yeshiva, and the National Relations Board (NLRB) found in favor of management. After that decision, the faculty folded even though they could have demanded to bargain albeit without the protection of the NLRA.
Quinnipiac University was a much different story, and what happened there is instructive. I represented the faculty at Quinnipiac for about ten years. During that time, I did all the contract negotiations and presented all their arbitrations. Even after the Yeshiva decision, the University never raised the issue of decertification. The administration told me that they were concerned about the reaction of the faculty and the strong possibility of a strike. The faulty was committed and united to protect their economic interests despite the Yeshiva decision.
I retired in 1988, and a few years later, the older faculty union leaders began to retire. The union became considerably weaker because the new leadership was friendlier to management and the members were less militant. Management took advantage of the Union’s vulnerability and petitioned the NLRB to invoke the Yeshiva decision. The NLRB ruled in the University’s favor and the union was decertified. Although some faculty members later regretted it, the union stopped functioning in any meaningful way.
Well-organized and committed faculty can unionize and negotiate successfully despite the Yeshiva decision. It is important to note that the decision does not prohibit the faculty from forming a union. There is no obligation for an institution to recognize or bargain with such a union but if the union is strong, as it once was at Quinnipiac, then management will be forced to negotiate or suffer adverse consequences. It is especially important for faculty to unionize because of the extent to which administrations are exploiting faculty by limiting the number of tenure track positions and substituting under compensated adjuncts.
Probably few professors know it, but once the faculty at UNH was represented by the American Federation of Teachers. That national union has a large college professors unit and also represents the school teachers in West Haven. The UNH AFT unit bargained several contracts and represented teachers with grievances , formal complaints that administration had violated the contact. It won almost every grievance taken to arbitration.
This all changed in the early 1980's with the Yeshiva decision of the U.S. Supreme Court. The administration at the NYC Yeshiva college claimed professors took part in hiring and firing and therefore was part of management and had no right to have a union. The court agreed with them. Then management at UNH refused to bargain with its AFT unit saying that since faculty "recommended policies with respect to the curriculum and course offerings" they had no right to a union. The National Labor Relations Board used "Yeshiva" as a precedent and the UNH union was gone (1983).
That thousands and thousands of public school principals and other administrators were unionized and public schools had not been impaired made no difference.
"Yeshiva" was a huge blow to college professor rights at private colleges. In 1975 over half of professors had tenure or were on a tenure track. A tenured professor can only be fired for cause. Those without tenure can be fired for any reason. Nowadays three-quarters of all college positions are not tenure-track.
Among the non-tenured positions are a very large number of "part-time" lecturers called "adjunct professors". Half of all appointments are adjuncts. These lecturers get very low pay. Adjuncts typically earn between $20,000 and $25,000 a year.
In 1992 the president of UNH was Lawrence DeNardis, former Congressman of the West Haven-New Haven area. He had the university approve the idea of establishing a branch of the university near Tel Aviv, Israel in cooperation with the Bio-Technical Institute of Tel Aviv. The actual site was to be in Elkana, a Jewish-only settlement on the West Bank of Palestine. The West Bank had been conquered by Israeli forces in 1967.
The UNH project was announced in late November and there was a storm of protest. At the time the area of Palestine/Israel was the scene of a mass uprising of Palestinian demonstrations dubbed the Intifada literally "a shaking off" .
It was immediately challenged by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, a national group, that had a branch in Connecticut. Leaders George Hajjar and Sameer Hassan said the project would "legitimize" the Israeli occupation and perhaps disrupt the then ongoing peace talks. Connecticut's Middle East Crisis joined with the AADC in a press conference opposing the plan. The American Friends Service Committee also spoke against the plan. The New York Times reported that Birzeit University, a Palestinian campus in the West Bank that has been closed for nearly three of the last five years by the Israeli military, published a statement against opening the branch. There was a march and picket in front of the campus. Eventually an editorial in the New Haven Register opposed the project.
Apparently plans for the branch had been in discussion for a long time because when the Yithak Rabin government took power in 1992 his Education Minister, Shulamit Aloni wrote to DeNardis opposing the plan. Israeli's largest peace group, Peace Now, wrote to the Jerusalem Post and opposed the plan saying "every project in the territories is based on a policy of apartheid." Despite DeNardis claim that Arabs could study at the new branch Peace Now said "the only Arabs able to get into the university will be those who come to clean."
The U.S. State Department (under George Bush's Administration) said that it saw settlements as an "obstacle to peace" and discussed the matter with UNH officials.
The branch was to open in February 1993, but in early January of tha tyear DeNardis announced that the project had been put on hold. It was never resumed.
An ongoing controversy is the program UNH's Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Science maintains with the King Fahd Security College of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. In 2016 President Stephen Kaplan announced that UNH would work with the Riyadh college creating curriculum for Saudi police training. The plan came under fire from groups and people angry at the very poor human rights record of the kingdom and its ongoing military intervention against Yemen.
After the brutal murder of Saudi citizen and Washington Post journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, UNH's ties to the Saudi college came under special scrutiny. There were many articles in the New Haven Register and other CT media, Newsweek and a TV report by Al Jazeera.
The contract with the Saudi college apparently ends in 2021. The "Coalition to End the U.S.-Saudi Alliance" in May 2020 called for UNH to not renew the contract. UNH officials have not commented.