1. In collective bargaining, the union will negotiate a contract with the university that protects faculty interests. Contrast the current system of “shared governance,” wherein faculty members have only an advisory role in many matters that directly affect their welfare.
2. A union contract can enhance the job security of faculty, especially in times of financial exigency, by stipulating the procedures and other conditions for laying off tenured and non-tenured faculty and for reinstating them. The contract will ensure that, when layoffs occur, they will be absolutely necessary and entirely fair.
3. A union contract can create a balanced, fair, and affordable grievance procedure, especially for cases of tenure and promotion. If a complaint cannot be settled “in-house” to the satisfaction of the faculty member, the grievance procedure will provide for a neutral, professional arbiter, who will hear the case and render a decision that is legally binding. Arbitration will proceed at no cost to a faculty member who belongs to the union.
4. The union can negotiate fair hiring and retention procedures for non-tenure-track faculty, including Instructors. In 2010, the University issued termination letters to all LSU Instructors and then continued to employ them by repeatedly extending the termination date. The union will work to prevent the repetition of such unfair labor practices and to establish appropriate job security for non-tenure-track faculty.
5. The union can negotiate and lobby for better retirement benefits for faculty, seeking especially higher university contributions to the Optional Retirement Plan. In 2011-12, the university contributed only 5.97% to the ORP, while faculty members paid 7.95% into the plan. Contrast the University of Georgia, where faculty members pay 5% into the ORP while the university contributes 9.245% to the plan.
6. The union will work to protect the health insurance plans offered to faculty, especially the design and the affordability of those plans. Affordability is likely to become a serious problem if the state privatizes Group Benefits, and faculty will need the union to negotiate coverage and premiums on their behalf.
7. The union will work to improve salary compensation for faculty. Faculty salaries at LSU rank 80th in the list of 92 Research I universities. Faculty members receive raises only sporadically. The last round of raises for LSU faculty came five years ago, in 2007.
8. The union offers legal assistance to faculty who face charges from the university. In addition, every union member is covered automatically by a million-dollar professional liability insurance policy. The insurance exists to defend members who are sued by individuals (e.g., students or parents) for alleged wrongdoing in the performance of their professional duties. Faculty would pay approximately $100 to purchase such insurance elsewhere.
9. The union lobbies the state legislature with faculty concerns exclusively in mind. The staff members of the Louisiana Association of Educators (LAE) and the National Education Association (NEA), which are the parent organizations of LSUnited, are seasoned professionals at political advocacy on a wide range of educational matters, including tenure, post-tenure review, productivity, salary compensation, state support for universities, and so on. The lobbying efforts of LSUnited and LAE last spring helped LSU to avoid the financial “cliff” that many people anticipated.