The Association Loses Two Stalwarts

Academe, May/June 2003 | Go to article overview

The Association Loses Two Stalwarts


The Association Loses Two Stalwarts

Two important contributors to the Association's efforts to advance faculty collective bargaining died in February. David Feller, who died on February 10 at age eighty-six, was a key figure in developing a program of collective bargaining consistent with longstanding AAUP principles and standards. He turned to academia after a distinguished career as a labor and civil rights attorney, during which he served as a law partner of Arthur Goldberg, a future U.S. secretary of labor and U.S. Supreme Court justice; as general counsel for the United Steelworkers of America; and as adviser to Thurgood Marshall of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People when that organization drafted amicus briefs in Brown v. Board of Education and other crucial cases.

Feller joined the University of California School of Law faculty in 1967 and continued at Berkeley until his retirement two decades later. He joined the AAUP in 1969 and served as chair of the Berkeley Faculty Association (BFA) from 1971 to 1980, exerting major influence in the adoption in 1978 of enabling legislation for collective bargaining by public-sector higher education faculty in California. Continuing his BFA work in his emeritus years, Feller remained on the organization's executive committee and was instrumental in bringing about its formal affiliation with the AAUP in 2000.

Feller's contributions to the work of the national AAUP included a term on the governing Council from 1975 to 1978 and membership from 1981 to 1983 on the Special Committee on Relationships with Other Organizations. Particularly noteworthy was Feller's service on Committee N on Representation of Economic and Professional Interests, the body that formulated the AAUP's basic policies on collective bargaining. Feller's membership on the committee ran from 1972 to 1984, and he served as its chair from 1976 to 1981.

Former AAUP president Robert A. Gorman, who succeeded Feller as chair of the committee, says:

David Feller was rather new to university teaching and to the AAUP when, in the early 1970s, the Association had to accommodate its historical role as a professional association to the new world of higher education collective bargaining. David was able to combine his vast practical experience as a preeminent labor union advocate and policy maker with a sound appreciation of academic values, and to bring his insights to bear as an early leader within Committee N. He helped all of us more wisely to address issues new to the Association, such as work stoppages, mandatory fee payments, and the scope of collective bargaining and arbitration. David Feller was a central figure in helping to move the Association forward in our appreciation of collective bargaining as a vital and flexible force for the promotion of faculty and university interests. …

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