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Western Oregon University: Celebrating 150 years
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   Selected Emeritus Alumni/Faculty writings from events and memories that occurred at Western Oregon University

Solidarity Forever

by Jim Gallagher

I joined the union (OCE Local American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO) after a Social Science Department meeting. It was a reaction after several pronouncements going after young faculty.

My reflection is that I became member #13. Puny at best. At that meeting, I declared my intention and I would be happy to talk with anyone at the meeting’s conclusion. After the meeting, Erhard Dortmund caught me, and I said, “I’ll join if I can be on the Bargaining Committee.” With only 13 members, that was easy.

Bill Lehman from the Chancellor’s office bargained the administration position. We were Erhard, Bob Martin, Ray Sewell, and Kay Faulkner from the AFT. Ray was the perfect secretary. He never lost a word in his notes.

What I wanted most of all was a structure for evaluating faculty. Kay and the others agreed that I could negotiate that part of the contract. Bill and I had a good conversation and agreed to come back to it at a later date.

“Later” arrived one day when we left the table for a caucus. I asked Ray to tell me what was said at that previous session. Ready. Bill started by saying, “I must admit that I had to review this last night.” I said, “I did it at the break.” A good belly laugh for all and we got what we wanted into the contract.

The most important thing of all was that we were puny, and Bill had all of the power. He negotiated as if we had the whole faculty. We knew we could get an honest answer from him any time.

When we presented the contract tot the faculty, they bought it, voted for it and joined in large numbers.

When I was 15, I was in the Teamsters, 16-18 in the Hod Carriers and once again for a short time between B.S. and M.S. Once a union man, always a union man.

We had one tough session several years later, and I said to their negotiator (not Bill), “When you can keep a civil tongue in your mouth, you can call and we’ll be back. . . .” Out the door.

Once a union man. . . .