The faculty of Montgomery College, after five years of feuding with the college administration over tenure policies and faculty rights, will vote in a runoff election next month to decide whether to unionize and go the route of collective bargaining.
In a controversy that mirrors similar issues at campuses across the nation, the faculty will choose April 11 between two powerful organizations competing for the right to represent them at the bargaining table. In an election that was to decide the issue last week, the two organizations tied with 158 votes each.
"Over the last five years we have lost any effective input into the decision-making process at the college,' said Marilyn Moors, president of the Montgomery College Faculty Association, an affiliate of the National Education Association, one of the two groups seeking certification as the faculty's representative.
"Our voice goes unheard in terms of curriculum development, in terms of salary, in terms of the college calendar," said Jack Henry, a member of the American Association of University Professors, the other group seeking to represent the faculty.
Robert E. Parilla, who became president of the college eight months ago, said he believes college faculties "have the responsibility to participate in decisions that might affect them.
"But how that is interpreted might be different," he added. Officially, Parilla has taken a hands-off position on the elections that will decide whether the college faculty should have collective bargaining and who should represent it.
In the last decade, faculties at 382 colleges and universities throughout the county have won collective bargaining rights, according to Joel M. Douglas, director of the national Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education at the City University of New York's Baruch College.
Most experts expect the trend to accelerate during the 1980s as budget squeezes and a shortage of students force tougher college management and tenure policies and the possibility of faculty layoffs.
In the Washington area only the faculty of the University of the District of Columbia has won collective bargaining rights.
At Montgomery College the dispute dates to the mid-1970s when the college trustees -- over the strenuous objections of the faculty -- voted to discontinue making faculty appointments that would lead to tenure, a form of job security in which a faculty member can be fired only with great difficulty. j
Instead, the trustees voted to confine hiring practices to one-year, temporary appointments.
The trustees acted, Parilla said, because about 19 percent of the college's faculty were already tenured. They wanted to avoid being "tenured-in" with all faculty positions filled on a permanent basis.
In the intervening years, the number of faculty members serving on a temporary basis has grown to about 70. The college has about 350 faculty members at its campuses in Takoma Park, Rockville and Germantown.
Following the vote to limit hiring to one-year, temporary appointments, relations between the faculty and then college president William C. Strasser worsened and he stepped down as president last July.