This week the Mercyhurst faculty faced the possiblity offorming a union even as it dealt with the immediate and apparently formidable fact of disunity within.As the college waited for an eligibility ruling by theNational Labor
NLRB will decideperhaps by the end of the term, who may
on forming a
meeting of the full faculty wasscheduled
Wednesday, after presstime.Several faculty told The Merciad before hand that a majorissue Wednesday would be the handling of the unionizationeffort itself
past several months. They said a largenumber of their colleagues'
too many steps had been taken after too littleconsultation with the faculty at
"I would not buy into this union because of the way thingshave been handled up to this point," said Brian McHugh,chairman of the education division.
has not beenpresent.
behavior of (the organizers) seems to havebeen exactly what they're fighting against."Assistant Biology Professor Dr. Alan Lewis, a leader inthe unionization effort, said earlier this week he anticipatedsuch questions."It's difficult to keep 80-some individuals aware of theprocess, and involved," he said. "The thing to do is bring itout in the open, then deal with the real issue, which is todecide if a collective bargaining situation
be a benefit ora detriment..
the real essence."]J-
Wednesday's meeting was called by a group which hasbeen operating since early March under the title of the"Mercyhurst College Faculty Association." Much controversy centers
the actions of the Association.Tracing its origins and precise membership is difficult fora number of reasons,
the least of which is that theunionization effort has been shuttling in and out of officialchannels under
titles since late December.
Another is that until Monday, April 24, the Associationhad, besides the working title, little? in the way oforganizational
It consisted of a small, fluctuating number of faculty whodid the early legwork of contacting various teachers' unionsand drumming up support
beginning it was rather loose," saidAssociate Mathematics Professor Dr. Donald Platte, nowvice president of the Association. "It's hard to say who thefounders
if that is the right word to use.""Our association has..
formed in the hallways andclassrooms of this institution," reads
a March 31 memo,although some faculty like the connotations of thatstatement rather less than the Association does.
Jin a sense, was the faculty policies committee.
It set up a subcommittee (Dr. Lewis, Assistant PhysicsProfessor Dr. Wolfgang Christian and Sociology LecturerJoy
to look into the possibility of unionization at one
its first meetings of the academic year.
Later, on December 22, faculty policies votedunanimously (one member abstained and one was absent)to endorse the subcommittee's request to invite on campusrepresentatives from several
These included theAmerican Association of University Professors
the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), an affiliate
as well as PSEA and its parent organization,the National Education Association (NEA).It was even jokingly suggested to inquire into the Teamsters Union.All this was noted in the official faculty policies minutesavailable to all faculty and distributed
most."It was a continuing agenda item through Term One,"said committee member Robert
are open to all
typicallysparse." -At that point, however, faculty policies temporarily withdrew from any offical role in unionization. Other matters,most notably contract negotiations with the administration,took precedence. And the contract negotiations made it anindelicate time to talk of unions.
"In the midst of the negotiating. .
become clear that itwas appropriate to leave the unionization question
a number of individuals, who could then work independently," saidFPC Chairman Bud Brown.Crossed WiresBy the time faculty policies reentered the picture
Thursday, April 6,
-a- ringing 10-0 endorsement ofunionization procedures, a number of major developmentshad occurred.For one, unionization backers had decided to cast their lotwith the PSEA and assumed the title, "Mercyhurst CollegeFaculty Association."
j . >
The Association, under the guidance of veteran PSEAorganizer Marc Kornfeld, also had completed a complicatedseries of legal steps which brought about what had been thegoal all along: a virtual guarantee that at least a part of thefaculty would have a chance
whether or not it wanted
On the other hand, two scheduled meetings of the fullfaculty had taken place without any mention being made ofunion issues. The meetings
called by faculty policies
were held Monday, Jan,
and Friday, Feb.
dealt with thecontract negotiations and drew a combined audience of 82faculty.
y. During the crucial months of March and April, support forunionization grew. But so, conversely,
complaints thatsome segments of the faculty were being ignored.
reading of the facts indicates that, while the Associationsometimes was lax in advertising its moves, there wereother occasions when the faculty at large had a wide openchance to find out what was going on, participate, or injectan
virtually ignored it.Example: Kornfeld appeared on campus Wednesday,March 1, an event publicized in two fliers sent through thecampus mails well in advance; one on Feb.
and anotheron Feb. 28, announcing a second meeting scheduled later inthe day for those who could not attend the first. Audiencesfor
numbered barely more than adozen, according to Association President Dr. PaulJurkowitz.BreakthroughKornfeld's campus visit was followed by final exam weekof winter term and then by the spring and Easter breaks.But during the final week of March the Association made itsmost important breakthrough.
Fulfilling a necessary technical step, Dr. Lewis, goingdoor-to-door in the faculty offices, passed out three-by-five"authorization and designation cards" granting bargainingrights
the Association and PSEA-NEA.By law the Association needed to obtain
per cent of
Association members contacted by The Merciad werereluctant to talk about "the cards," which were passed outprivately, all identities kept confidential, and then collectedand sent to the
in Pittsburgh. Both Dr.Lewis and Ms. Kolb said that more signatures than the 30per cent minimum were obtained, but refused to givespecific figures.
got the minimum,"
said."People are scared to death about those cards,"
said.Dr. Jurkowitz, however, told The Merciad he "thinks" theAssociation kept collecting signatures to establish a comfortable margin of support, cleared 50 per cent and thenstopped handing them
the administration received and turned downa PSEA request for union recognition; on March 30 it was
that a petition had been filed with the
The PSEA proposal asked that all
time and regularpart-time (defined as those teaching three or more coursesper year) be eligible to vote in a unionization election. Theproposal exluded only the offices of the dean, the assistantdean and the assistant to the president, all of which carryfaculty as
Excluding the assistant dean produced a bizarre sidelight.Edward Gallagher, who now holds that office, is a lifetimemember of both PSEA and
thus would notbe eligible
join the local chapter of
he isalready a member.The administration
with a proposal to excludepart-time faculty, division and department chairpersonsand librarians. The difference between the two proposalsamounts to about
prospective union members, about halfthe maximum the PSEA proposal would allow even able to
The election probably hurt the Association's image morethan it
"If we have to have these
so we don't look likefools in the hearing, okay. That's our strategy, tactics, whathave you," said McHugh. "But not telling people about itthat's an insult. I don't want
part of an organization runby an elite group that calls all the shots."The second hearing was held last Tuesday, April 25;
testimony and legal briefs prepared by both sides will befiled with the NLRB Pittsburgh regional office, where
eligibility ruling will be made, according to Jurkowitz, bythe end of
first week in
Afterward, those judged eligible will vote on forming aMercyhurst chapter ofPSEA-NEA,and in
meantime thefaculty will try to reach some sort of consensus among its
INQUIRING REPORTER ASKS;
Endorsements Have An Effect On The;
indubitably. I think itwas a communist plot."
Link"I didn't read the endorsements. I think everyonehad their minds made
before The Merciad cameout." i I
I think so. Six hundred people turned out to
Not too many peoplecared, but when they read theMerciad it appeared to influence them."
I think it's the waythey ran their campaigns."
Betsy Herzog"I think they helped a lot. Ifyou didn't hear the speeches,you could read what they had
say in The Merciad."
I think they voted onwhat they heard from thespeeches that were made."
Science"A lot of
people would vote
although I don't knowwhether
can really say that is an informedopinion."^
SPARROW,Sophomore, English"The endorsements
t sway my opinion. Ivoted on what I know of the person, how activethey are
the government, and
sible theyare."MARIANNE BROWN, FreshmanFoods .. Nutrition"I really didn't know
The endorsements more or lesshelped
Heller."JERRY SHEWAN, Sophomore,Elementary Education
my decision after reading what eachcandidate had
Merciad. I think theendorsements influenced
Com munica t on
took the endorsements seriously. They
reasons were given for the
endorsements#heywould have been
strong feelings aboutgovernment. They may not know the people sothey need a
vote for a certain can*didate in particular. The Merciad gave them areason."