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December 7, 1995


Temple prof's experience produces a "no" vote on unionization

To the editor:

I sent to a colleague of mine at Temple University a copy of the University Times (Nov. 9) featuring three rather lengthy letters regarding, in the main, characteristics and experiences of Temple University's union, including an interminably longish letter from Arthur Hochner, president of the Temple Association of University Professionals. My friend at Temple, a respected scholar with strong publication and citation credentials, responded by chilling me with a horror story involving Temple's union, which I feel obliged to share.

Early this year, the Temple administration offered a bonus of $80,000 as an incentive for elderly faculty to retire. Forty-eight faculty members went for the offer, including my friend. But then "the union immediately filed a protest with the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board," seeking "a written contract that would give them [the union] a voice in replacement staffing." The Temple administration was wisely resistant to sharing this responsibility with the union, whereupon the administration withdrew its retirement offer to the 48 faculty who had originally accepted the offer. Well, despite howls and petitions from the faculty opposing the union's blockage of this retirement plan, Temple's administration stood fast and did not retract its withdrawal of the plan, in view of problems it would then encounter from the union and the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board. So my friend will still retire, but without the monetary bonus he, along with many other elderly faculty, was originally promised. The bottom line is, that at least in this instance, the union betrayed its pledge to obtain benefits for faculty and was, instead, the instrument for denying benefits to these senior professors.

With friends like this faculty union claque of self-serving power-hungry apparatchiks, who needs enemies? My friend concluded his letter thus: "Tell your colleagues to vote no." I'd rather confront administrators and University Senate bureaucrats any day of the week, rather than be manipulated by a rigid and imperious union hierarchy. So, my faculty colleagues at Pitt, when it comes time to vote for collective bargaining, say no.

Robert Perloff

Professor Emeritus

Katz Graduate School of Business


Rebutting the Temple union president's arguments

To the editor:

In his long letter in the Nov. 9 University Times, the president of Temple's faculty union, Arthur Hochner, castigated David Brumble and me for a plethora of alleged sins. I was out of the country from Nov. 1 to Nov. 16 and so unable to reply. But I was delighted to find on my return to Pittsburgh that Professor Brumble had deftly exposed the bizarre form of the arguments advanced by Professor Hochner. Pretending to rebut a number of our claims, Hochner assailed assertions we never made: spurious claims generated by switching reference points. For example, Hochner transformed our claim that Temple has not yet recovered fully from the loss of three thousand students after its 1990 faculty strike into the assertion that Temple's enrollment is lower now than it was in 1987. The fact that Hochner repeatedly employed this peculiar pattern of argument suggests that he is either hopelessly muddled or intellectually unscrupulous, or both.

What seems to have offended Hochner most was my characterization of Temple as a second-rate research university. (I had made this comment to explain in part my astonishment that recent United Faculty propaganda had portrayed Temple as a model for Pitt to emulate.) In defense of his university, Hochner explains that "Temple has never pretended to be an elite bastion," that its "historic mission is to educate working men and women to lift themselves up into the middle class," and that the "diversity of (Temple's) student body is terrific." I myself fail to see why a university so dedicated shouldn't be first-rate. Don't working men and women deserve a first-rate university as much as the offspring of the affluent do? Hochner's letter seems to imply no. Does student diversity entail lower standards and lower aspirations? Hochner's letter seems to imply yes.

Notice that here again Hochner has transmogrified a claim in order to refute it. My claim that Temple is a second-rate research university becomes the counterfeit assertion that Temple is a bastion for the elite. Even Hochner, I believe, knows the difference between first-rate and second-rate institutions. After all, he crows that Temple has "a number of truly excellent programs and a faculty drawn from the best institutions." So, unless he has lost touch with reality, Hochner knows that Temple is not a first-rate research university.

Still, to be absolutely sure that I had not done Temple a disservice, I studied Temple's and Pitt's (faculty quality) ratings in the recently released National Research Council evaluation of research-doctoral programs. It seemed pertinent to compare the average percentile standings of Pitt and Temple doctoral programs (relative to ranked programs) in the various areas surveyed by the National Research Council. Here's what I found. In the humanities, the average standing of Pitt's doctoral programs is the 43rd percentile, while Temple's is the 18th percentile; in the social and behavioral sciences, Pitt 63rd and Temple 31st percentile; in the physical and mathematical sciences, Pitt 56th and Temple 28th percentile; in the biological sciences, Pitt again 56th and Temple 30th percentile; and in engineering, Pitt 42nd percentile and Temple 0 percentile (no Temple engineering program was even ranked). By a first-rate research university, one might plausibly understand a university whose doctoral programs on average place in the upper half of ranked programs. Given this metric, Pitt qualifies — if only barely — as a first-rate research university, whereas Temple qualifies as second-rate at best. Hochner's claim that some Temple programs are excellent is borne out by Temple's doctoral program in psychology, which placed in the 66th percentile. (Pitt's psychology program placed in the 74th percentile.). Only one other Temple program placed at or above the 50th percentile; Temple's English program placed in the 51st percentile. (Pitt's English program placed in the 80th percentile). And no Temple program even began to approach the respective 97th and 93rd percentile standings of Pitt's philosophy and history-and-philosophy-of-science programs. Upon review, then, my characterization of Temple as second-rate seems charitable.

The Temple and Pitt salary figures Hochner brandishes agree exactly with those I used in my calculations of relative purchasing power — with one exception. Hochner says Temple associate professors earn $54,800, whereas I had used the evidently incorrect figure of $61,200. So, instead of saying that the average purchasing power of Temple associate professors is $100 greater than that of their Pitt counterparts, I should have said that it is about $5,500 less than that of Pitt associate professors. Other comparisons I made similarly turn out to be even more favorable to Pitt than I had thought. I am indebted to Professor Hochner's letter for these welcome corrections.

It would be intolerably tedious to reply to all the distortions and transmogrifications introduced by Hochner. Let it suffice, then, to say that not a single claim made by Hochner against Brumble and me has merit. I invite anyone who thinks otherwise to ring me up (624-1051) or to drop by my office (817 CL) to discuss the matter.

Gerald J. Massey

Distinguished Service Professor of Philosophy and Director Center for Philosophy of Science


And Temple's faculty union president responds Arthur Hochner, president of the Temple Association of University Professionals, responds:

I'd like to reply to some rejoinders to my earlier (University Times Nov. 9, 1995) letter.

Whether Temple is "second-rate" is irrelevant. Faculty unions exist where faculties have decided they are needed, including such "first rate" institutions as AAU members Rutgers and SUNY-Buffalo. While we find much to criticize Temple for, we also are proud of it.

Student enrollments:

The simple facts were twisted by Professor Brumble. Enrollment was lower in fall 1990 compared to fall 1989 even before the strike. We lost students, but enrollments rose in fall 1991 to almost the pre-strike level of 1990. Enrollments have fallen since then because of demographics, fewer undergraduate majors in business, and heavy external competition.

Salary comparisons:

Look at the AAUP annual reports. While Pitt's salaries used to be far higher than Temple's, ours have caught up and are now surpassing Pitt's. As for Philadelphia's higher living costs, we'll remember that for our next contract negotiations.

Size of faculty:

There has been minor fluctuation year to year but no attrition. If you want all of the numbers, just ask me or contact Temple's provost directly. The planned downsizing of the faculty (mentioned in the Philadelphia Inquirer article cited by Brumble) has not happened — because we opposed it.

Teaching loads:

They are increasing, but Temple's problems are not unique. Even private, non-union universities are retrenching and increasing teaching loads. Pennsylvania State Rep. John Lawless (R) has been in the limelight for wanting to legislate 12 credit hours teaching per semester for 80 percent of the full-time faculty — at Pitt, too. Pressures on higher education are everywhere. Our union contract protects against excessive increases (even those Rep. Lawless would legislate) and promotes fairness.

Library staff:

We represent the professional librarians, and there has been no staff cut there.


Far from being a "faculty union bureaucrat," I am a regular faculty member. I teach every semester, plus most summers. I serve in the Faculty Senate and on departmental and collegiate committees. Our union is a democracy; my fellow officers and I are elected by our peers.

Professor Perloff contradicts Massey and Brumble. He criticizes us for NOT doing what they say unions always do, taking money and ignoring academic needs. We rejected the downsizing plan, of which one element was the severance bonus/early retirement program. We wanted tenure-track replacement faculty to be hired because of our concern for the quality and integrity of academic programs. Perloff complains that the union would not obtain benefits for one group of faculty but ignores the damage that the sudden loss of dozens of faculty would create.

The real point is this:

Don't criticize Pitt's administration and then reject the vehicle for change. Without collective bargaining the alternative is to grumble and let the administration have its way, buying off a few faculty here and there. The only way to ensure that faculty will have an effective, collegial, democratic voice is through an organization that has recognized legal standing — a faculty union. Faculty at Temple made that choice 23 years ago; faculty at Pitt have a chance to make it now, by supporting the United Faculty.

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