A new academic year together!

Greetings, my excellent colleagues!

It is a delight to begin a new academic year together with you at the University of Oregon.

Meeting our new university president, greeting newly arrived colleagues at new faculty orientation, helping new students move into dorms with Unpack the Quack, tabling at Friday night’s Flock Party at Hayward Field, and teaching my first class session of the year have been incredibly energizing and restorative. College is such a magical, transformative time in the lives of our students, and it’s wonderful to be a part of that.

This year will have more than its share of adventures, with the revision of unit policies, the very real possibility of a GTFF strike toward the end of this fall term, and the start of our own bargaining with the administration in January.

It’s a thrilling time for the labor movement in higher education and beyond. Graduate students and faculty are organizing into new bargaining units at campuses throughout the country at an increasing pace. Over the last year they have made hard-fought and impressive gains, most prominently at the University of California system and Rutgers University.

None of this has been unique to higher ed, nor is it happening in a vacuum. The disruptions to work during the pandemic, increased expectations and duties, and the highest rates of inflation in decades have convinced employees throughout the U.S. economy that their current work conditions and pay are untenable and unacceptable.

The movement is gaining momentum, awareness, and public approval. The months-long strike by the Writers Guild of America enjoyed widespread support, and its successful conclusion is one of many recent reaffirmations of the power of unions to help individually powerless workers.

I am so happy to be here and engaged in this work with all of you. We are fortunate to be in a state that allows us, as faculty at a public university, to organize and bargain collectively. We are fortunate to be at a campus that is thoroughly committed to academic freedom. We are fortunate to have one another.

Reach out at any point with any questions or concerns you may have. Participate in the listening sessions in advance of bargaining to help our team craft proposals and set priorities. Let us know if you have capacity–large or small–to contribute some of your time, expertise, and passion in support of our collective efforts and goals.

My best wishes to all of you as we begin this new year. Good luck in all of your endeavors, professional and otherwise!

In solidarity,

Mike Urbancic
Senior Instructor, Economics
President, United Academics of the University of Oregon
AAUP/AFT Local 3209, AFL-CIO