57.2 F

Higher ed faculty push for collective bargaining across NSHE institutions


The Nevada Faculty Alliance, which represents higher education faculty, is pushing to gain collective bargaining rights for Nevada System of Higher Education’s professional employees during this year’s legislative session. 

Assembly Bill 224 was introduced this week with bipartisan support from 30 cosponsors. The bill would extend collective bargaining to Nevada State College, Great Basin College, University of Nevada, Las Vegas and University of Nevada, Reno, NFA officials said. 

“AB 224 largely follows the collective bargaining rules already established in NRS 288 for local government employees and state Classified employees, with some clarifications needed for professional employees in higher education,” NFA states on its website.

Three other NSHE colleges – College of Southern Nevada, Truckee Meadows Community College and Western Nevada College – already have collective bargaining agreements but would still see benefits from the bill’s passage.

Advocates for AB 224 say its passage would improve efficiency, increase student and faculty retention, create equity among faculty and other institution employees, and reduce cost per degree awarded. 

In a policy brief, NFA also notes that “unionized public research universities have a higher proportion of women faculty overall” and that collective bargaining creates a “statistically significant increase in student retention.”

The bill’s introduction came just days after the release of results from the latest NFA faculty survey. That survey revealed that at the four NSHE institutions without collective bargaining units, 83% of survey respondents supported formation of a union to negotiate pay, benefits and working conditions.

NFA’s survey also found that 64% of faculty are unhappy with their pay, and half are dissatisfied with their health care benefits. 

“Over half of the faculty respondents have seriously considered leaving their institution in the past two years, with low salaries being the most common reason followed by limited advancement opportunities,” NFA’s survey results summary noted. “Contributing reasons include a lack of a sense of belonging, the high cost of living and housing, and a lack of institutional support.”

Depending on the institution, anywhere from a quarter to half of faculty members are uncomfortable with their campus climate. NFA’s recommendations following the survey include an external review of why some faculty feel uncomfortable with the campus climate. 

In the survey summary, NFA noted, “Faculty members who report they are more comfortable with the campus climate tend to be at institutions whose administrators are perceived to embrace the principles of shared governance and protect academic freedom. 

“Conversely, institutions rated low in campus climates are correlated with dissatisfaction in those areas.”

Kristen Hackbarth
Kristen Hackbarth
Kristen Hackbarth is a freelance editor and communications professional with more than 20 years’ experience working in marketing, public relations and communications in northern Nevada. Kristen graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a degree in photography and minor in journalism and has a Master of Science in Management and Leadership. She also serves as director of communications for Nevada Cancer Coalition, a statewide nonprofit. Though she now lives in Atlanta, she is a Nevadan for life and uses her three-hour time advantage to get a jump on the morning’s news.




UNR not ‘out of the woods’ with budget crisis

The University of Nevada, Reno was projected to have a $31.7 million budget shortfall for the next fiscal year, but campus administration said on April 30 at a UNR Campus Conversation event that the shortfall had been reduced to $12 million.