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Quelques cas

Quelques cas

Jean Boivin

Volume : 30-4 (1975)


Some Cases

Collective bargaining among university professors is a recent phenomenon both in Canada and in the United States. It is still too soon to predict whether it will remain as a permanent institution in North America but its extent has been growing steadily in the last few years.


As of mid-April 1975, there were 261 recognized or certified bargaining agents representing faculty units on 380 college campuses. By then, 80% of these agents (209 of the 261) had bargained contracts which cover 328 of the campuses. According to theNational Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education (Baruch College at CUNY), 93,900 faculty were represented by collective bargaining agents. Among these, 59,228 (63%) were in four-year institutions and 34,672 (37%) in two-year colleges. This figure, 93,900, represents 15.5% of all faculty in the Unted States (607,000). If the base figure is adjusted to compensate for the lack of bargaining coverage for part-time faculty, many of whom are not eligible for bargaining, the percentage reaches or exceeds 20% depending on how large the adjustment is made.

Using the same statistical sources, we discover that some 25% of two-year faculty if organized. By contrast, the 59,228 four-year faculty organized into units represented by an agent is only 13% of the four-year faculty potential.

If we now use the private-public criterion, the percentages are 7% and 17% respectively.

Hence, collective bargaining among faculty in the United States is most active at public, two-year colleges and least active at private colleges. However, many labor relations specialists have affirmed that continued expansion of public sector labor legislation at either the federal level or within the states points to continued growth but, perhaps at a slower rate.

University professors are generally represented by either one of the three following organizations : theNational Education Association (NEA), theAmerican Federation of Teachers (AFT) which is an affiliate of the AFL-CIO and theAmerican Association of University Professors (AAUP).

Overall, the NEA affiliates had bargained the most collective agreements with 100 out of 295 as of April 1974. The AFT was following with 71 while the AAUP affiliates had bargained only 27 contracts. It must be noted that in some States NEA and AFT affiliates have merged. Hence, 46 collective agreements had been signed by such locally merged organizations. Finally, 50 contracts had also been signed by independent organizations.

If we limit the figures to four-year institutions, the AAUP's influence is more strongly felt. Its bargaining agents have negotiated 37% of all the contracts (22 out of 60).

Among the various reasons which have been put forward to explain this up-surge of unionization among Faculty in the United States, the following have retained our attention :

1. The proportion of non tenured young professors relative to tenured professors which has been drastically modified in favor of the former in the last few years.

2. Financial difficulties encountered by many universities which have increased the degree of sensitivity to job security among the teaching profession inhigher education, even more at a time when the traditional concept of « tenure » is being seriously challenged.

3. The frequent sollicitations by various bargaining agents winch are very often competing with one another.

4. Spectacular economic gains made by some recently unionized faculty.

5. The traditional apathy among university professors which favors the more militant among them.

6. The necessity to compete with other claimants among the University to obtain a fair share of the financial resources.

7. The acceptance by the venerable AAUP of collective bargaining as an adequate device to ensure faculty participation within the University.


Outside the Province of Québec, Faculty organization has been rather the exception, although professors in some universities have recently opted for collective bargaining and others seem about to do the same. Only two collective agreements had been signed at the time this article was being written (June 1975) and they involved Notre-Dame University (Nelson, B.C.) and St. Mary's University (Halifax, N.S.). TheCanadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) is representing both faculties. However, two other universities had just been certified : the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg and Carleton University in Ottawa. Professors in other universities like York in Toronto, Ottawa University and UBC were also strongly considering the possibility of getting organized.

In the Province of Québec all French speaking universities have been certified. Collective agreements cover all Québec University campuses and negotiations were underway at Sherbrooke, Laval and Montréal. There were no certified faculty among English speaking universities but the idea is now spreading in some of them.

There is no clear pattern of affiliation in the Province of Québec. Québec University campuses are either represented by theCentrale de l'enseignement du Québec (CEQ) or theFédération nationale des enseignants du Québec (FNEQ) a CNTU affiliate, and one group has even chosen to remain independent. More « traditional » universities have selected theFédération des associations de professeurs d'universités du Québec (FAPUQ), an organization which is playing in Québec a role similar to that played by the CAUT in the rest of Canada,


The general rule in the United States as well as in Canada has been to grant certification rights on a single campus basis. There are a few notable exceptions in the United States where multi-campus units can be found. Of these, theCity University of New York and theState University of New York are certainly the most important ones. If has been a general rule to refuse to grant bargaining rights on a school by school basis, although in the United States some Law Schools have been certified separately from comprehensive campus units.

The inclusion or exclusion of department chairmen has also been a subject of extensive litigation and the question has yet to be settled definitely in both countries.

It should be pointed out that, in the United States, theNational Lahor Relations Boards asserts jurisdiction over private institutions while public institutions fall under the jurisdiction of each state's public employment labor relations boards in states where a public sector legislation exists.

A final comment has to be made about the inclusion of some non-teaching professionnals like librarians within a faculty's bargaining unit in the United States and in Canada outside the Province of Québec in comparison to their exclusion in this latter case.


Seven collective agreements negotiated recently by U.S. faculty were analyzed and compared to two Québec University's collective agreements. The universities involved were the following : CUNY, SUNY, St. John's University (N.Y.), Oakland University (Michigan), Wayne State University (Michigan), Central Michigan University, Southeastern Massachusetts University, Université du Québec à Montréal and Université du Québec à Rimouski.

This study has revealed the following observations: 1.-unionized professors of the two Québec University campuses have succeeded in achieving the traditional protection and advantages generally obtained by labor unions such as grievance procedures and arbitration ; fringe benefits like collective insurances, sick leave holidays, maternity leaves, vacations ; job security ; and protection against arbitrary removal from office. They have also achieved a high degree of formal participation in the following matters : representation (sometimes on a parity basis) on the most important boards and committees ; hiring norms and recruitment of new professors ; work evaluation which determines promotions and job security ; and the conditions under which leaves of absence like sabbaticals are to be awarded.

2.-This surprising formal decision making powers attributed to the faculty rank and file at Québec University must be assessed in the following context : on the one hand, the Québec University first collective agreements were negotiated at a time when the professors enjoyed tremendous conjonctural bargaining power due to the fact that their negotiations were concomitant to the creation of the University itself. On the other hand, despite the formal distribution of decision-making powers embodied in the collective agreements, the governing body of Québec University has put up a parallel structure of authority through which the most important decisions are taken.

3.-No american faculty has achieved a similar degree of participation as that described above. Most collective agreements still refer to the traditional procedures established by the statutes with regard to the major decisions affecting a professor's career : renewal of employment, tenure, and promotions. In someinstances a few procedural details are added such as the necessity for the authorities to submit to a referendum any modification to the established procedures (like the establishment of a fixed proportion of tenured to non-tenured faculty, for example). In some other cases, the faculty Association has even been able to secure a clause whereby, in the event of conflict between the stipulations of the statutes and those of the agreement, the latter shall be controlling.

4. - Another major difference between U.S. collective agreements and Québec University's is related to the work load. While most U.S. faculty agreements are silent or say very little about this issue, Québec University collective agreements contain a detailed procedure to determine a department maximum work load and an individual professor's work load.

5.-In all instances, U.S. collective agreements stipulate that a grievance arbitrator does not have the power to review any decision involving an « academic judgment ».

6. - Finally, very few union security provisions exist in the U.S. since in many states it is illegal for public employees to bargain over such issue. On the other hand, the situation in Québec is completely different, at least in the public sector.