Thursday, April 21, 2011

"On Chancellor Cheng's Ultimatum"

The FA has released a document making its case that the FA negotiated in good faith while the administration failed to do so. To my not entirely unbiased mind it provides the clearest account of the breakdown in negotiations currently available. I would be curious to hear the administration's response. On Chancellor Cheng's Ultimatum


  1. Are you genuinely curious to see the administration's response? Have you no ability to make a decent prediction about the future based on your past experience? Have you not noticed the similarity of every administration response to the one that came before it?

    Here's my prediction.

    The administration's response will harp on one factual inaccuracy in the document, insist that the university's bargained in good faith, and insist that it was the union's unwillingness to come up with the money or agree to the furlough days that caused the impasse. The response also will stress the poor financial situation of the state government and the cuts that are planned in Springfield.

  2. Ok, maybe I'm not that curious--and your prediction strikes me as pretty sound. But when the FA noted the huge FY 2010 surplus the Chancellor at least earned some points for creativity in suddenly informing us of a huge new surplus fund she needed to ramp up (details in my "Johnson Posts New Financial Document!" post).

    The administration's effort will presumably be to move the debate to solely financial ground. The FA has a good case there, but given what everyone knows (and what all think they know) about the state budget, the administration starts with a huge advantage when the debate is about finances. Plus they can always portray the unions are greedy (the age old tactic of bosses).

    I suppose the FA argument on financial bargaining boils down to this. Times are tough (even if we disagree about just how tough they are). But that doesn't mean that the administration simply gets to dictate financial terms. Bargain about specific figures, or bargain based on some transparent and verifiable understanding of the budgetary situation (and possible changes in years to come). But you do have a duty to bargain. Simply insisting on 0% forever (with the ability to stick us with a 3% cut for good measure on their sole discretion) isn't bargaining. It's an attempt to dictate terms. That's no more permissible in bad times than good.

    The fundamental issue is about ceding some share of power by being open to negotiations. That's what unions are formed to do. If the administration won't negotiate, the unions have only one option: a strike. I'd rather not go there. So let's hope they come back to the bargaining table.


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