Thursday, April 28, 2011

"When Bitter Bargaining Bleeds Over"

I stumbled upon something rather interesting in the automated feed of links I've set up down on the left side of the blog, a story in Inside Higher Ed about a no-confidence vote against the president of the University of New Hampshire, which is unionized. Negotiations there are stalled, and the state is talking about major budget cuts. I have no great insight into the New Hampshire no-confidence vote (which the president predictably wrote off as a bargaining tactic). But reading down the rather impressively detailed story brought up a gem I'll put after the break.
Recently, these difficulties [in negotiations] were illustrated in the report issued after a January fact-finding hearing. The arbitrator sorted through concerns over due process, largely siding with the union, though he made the union’s allowable period of appeal much shorter. He also recommended a total three-year salary increase of 8.75 percent, about half of which would be determined through across-the-board raises rather than predominantly through merit increases, as the administration wanted. The arbitrator also praised the fiscal health of the university and noted, perhaps wryly, that raises to the faculty would not likely be a hardship. “The university has had the resources to expand its management and administrative staff,” he noted.
Sounds kind of familiar, don't you think?


  1. Dave,
    It does sound very familiar. Instead of strike, we should do no confidence.

  2. I don't know how it will play out at UNH. But in my (admittedly limited) experience, a no-confidence vote is really just a public-affairs issue. It may be supposed to hold specific weight within the lexicon of the union, but in practical terms all it establishes is further lines in the sand between faculty and administration. It seems to me that a strike is both long overdue and much more effective.

  3. However, a vote of no confidence is still important but it should be aimed at Poshard. It is now time that the heat is directed against President Plagiarist who is pulling the strings behind the scenes. His responsibility for the decline of SIUC and his lack of experience in higher education should be key elements in making such a vote.

  4. I agree with the above Anonymous. Let's review Poshard's record. Since he took over, we received budget cuts every years, hired and fired numerous administrators, university’s reputation has gone down either because of his plagiarism scandal or because of incompetency of the people he hired including Cheng, faculty morale has gone down, shared governance has eroded, …..I know you want me to stop here.

  5. A strike is not a good idea. I know that the FA feels that it cannot reach the administration, but a strike would be like shooting ourselves in the foot. I would cross the picket line and I know many other faculty that would do the same. I have already heard many talking about a vote of no confidence in the FA. We are the laughing stock of public universities in this state.

  6. To Anonymous May 1, 2011 7:40 AM:

    What do you suggest for the FA to do instead of strike to get the university administration back to the bargaining table and earnestly working toward a mutually acceptable contract?

    Some of the other Anonymous posters have argued that a no confidence vote should be pursued. I personally disagree with their position, but I can understand it.

    Your post does not provide any alternative to a strike, save accepting furlough days whenever the university administration wants them and accepting language about layoffs that could put your tenure at risk.

  7. To anonymous no-strike: Do you think a strike would ever be appropriate? If you don't think faculty should ever go on strike, then you should oppose the FA or any faculty union (at least in a state like Illinois where that right is the most powerful tool unions have).

    If you're not opposed to a faculty union tout court, then you have to be able to imagine circumstances in which a strike is the best option. If not when the administration is (in its contract language if not its PR) claiming the authority to set wages as it sees fit (via "furloughs") and claiming the authority to fire tenured and tenure-track (not to mention NTT!) faculty "when the Board decides"--then when?

  8. Here is what I would suggest. We should all leave this institution and go to universities where our skills will be appreciated and compensated at satisfactory rates. I am a tenured professor at SIUC, so I do know the value of tenure. But to be completely honest, I'm not at all worried about being laid off. I have published more than 2 dozen papers in the last five years and attractive several large research grants. If they want to lay me off, it will be their loss. I will easily find another place to work. Don't get me wrong, I don't like furloughs any more than anyone else, but I don't see that the FA has been any more willing to negotiate than the administration has. Why should I have to pay the FA to represent me when I don't need their protection? Faculty that are not productive should not have cushy jobs that draw large salaries. Even if it is not their intention, the FA protects these faculty members. This is the same problem with unions in a wider context. Our best protection from a bullying administration is to leave. They can hire less qualified faculty and pay the price as the universities downward spiral continues.

  9. Re: May 1, 2011 3:14 PM

    The cry "let the market decide" is used against all unions. Why should we act with a sense of community? Aren't we all atomized individuals? Can't we form new research groups and centers wherever we go as needed? This idea that people might want to live near their spouses and children is so passé in the internet age. And if universities in the U.S. decline because of incompetent political leadership, we can just migrate overseas! Anyone too stupid to learn Manderian doesn't deserve a job anyway.

    Have a happy and productive May Day!

  10. Most of the comments on this site have been directed toward Chancellor Cheng and the administrations' unwillingness to bargain with the FA and other unions. I don't think that the unions have been fair in their demands either. The civil service union wanted free parking stickers in their last offer! My point was just that going on strike is a terrible idea. The 55% of the tenured and tenure track faculty that don't pay dues to the FA will cross the picket line as they should. At a minimum, the FA should poll all faculty to determine their support for a strike before deciding that it is best for everyone involved. They might be surprised by what they find.

  11. Regarding the civil service union, please see

    "When the furlough days were first mandated last fall, ACsE tried to negotiate by proposing members take the 30 hours, which is equal to four days of work — an hour a week for 30 weeks. We were told, 'No!'

    In a second attempt to negotiate, ACsE proposed eight half-days. Again, we were told “No!” We were not given any explanation, even though the monetary outcome would be the same."

  12. What's so objectionable about asking for free parking stickers? Just like a furlough is a pay cut in disguise, free parking is a pay increase in disguise. How dare a union try to get a pay increase?!

    Asking for it doesn't mean that they would get it. But if they did, they could tell their members, "Sorry we couldn't stop the furloughs, but at least we could get this for you."

    Asking for it doesn't mean they would get it. They could ask for free parking but get the cutoff pay for the "Low" parking raised by a few thousand dollars. It would be a gesture that would cost the university a small amount of money but be meaningful to the people at the low end of the "Medium" group who are struggling to make ends meet.

  13. Why not just stick to the most important aspects of the contract? Why does it need to be padded with extra stuff? Our parking is so cheap as it is. The administration AND the unions need to meet in the middle. I just haven't seen any movement on either side. Also, the faculty at SIUC have done quite well in recent years in terms of pay raises, so I missed your point on that one. We should not be expecting pay increases during such difficult times. I know that the FA would say that these are not difficult times (there is a surplus...). Given our declining enrollment and state financial situation, I find this argument very difficult to believe. I don't think that Chancellor Cheng would make the faculty strike to get their way during a time when the university had piles of money laying around.

  14. To clarify, parking issue was for civil service. I'm not aware of the FA asking for free parking, and I don't know how the civil service people have done for raises recently.

    For any union, the extra stuff is there, in part, so the union can have some consolation to give its membership. If the union goes in and concedes everything exactly as it's offered and asks for absolutely nothing more, the membership would be rightly disappointed that the union didn't do anything for them. Think of the extra stuff as a menu of tokens from which the administration might choose to make themselves look generous and the union look effective.

  15. Also to Anonymous May 1, 2011 7:27 PM:

    Whether you think the university has piles of money lying around really depends on how you interpret the table on page 11 of the chancellor's Spring Leadership Meeting remarks. If you believe it as the chancellor puts it, the university already has commitments for last year's surplus. If you believe the FA, the chancellor is choosing to hoard last year's surplus in reserve funds to be able to spend later on things that she thinks are more important than employees.

  16. To my paranoid pal's last comment: the fullest rejoinder to the Chancellor's "leadership remarks" can be found in my tragically underappreciated " Johnson's posts old budget document" post.

  17. The FA would have a lot more credibility if they either dropped the pretense that they cared at all about merit (which many faculty DO care about) or just argued for a flat raise. The idea of longevity raises AND equity raises is the most ridiculous I've ever seen. Its also the one thing that prevent me from jumping on board, even with what I see as heavy handed tactics of the administration.

    If the union actually cared about merit, we'd get a clearer picture about what the administration was trying to do, we'd know what we had to do increase our salaries, and we'd have better information about whether or not this is the kind of institution we'd like to work at. Instead, the bargaining gives the undecided faculty like me no sense of what the administration's priorities are (outside of not being nice to the union) and a clear sense that the FA doesn't care about merit. I, for one, am not happy about getting paid less than my colleagues who don''t even show up regularly to meetings, don't have rigorous teaching standard, or don't publish/engage in creative activity. Why should I trust the FA any more than the administration on this score?

  18. The FA "supposal" called for overall salary increases to be distributed, through most of the life of the contract, at 66% across the board and 34% merit. And tenured faculty have passed a pretty stringent merit review, last time I checked. The FA has fought hard to ensure that faculty get to determine what counts as merit (through operating papers), and that faculty due process rights are protected during the tenure process.

    Yes, there are also provisions aimed to offset salary compression (the longevity proposal) and raise the salaries of the lowest faculty on campus (the minimum salary proposal). Should those of us who've been here longer have to be more meritorious in order to offset salary compression? Should those in the lowest paid fields have to be more meritorious than the rest of us in order to crack the rather modest minimum salary level of $50,000?

    The FA cares about things other than merit. This doesn't mean it doesn't care at all about merit at all.

    If all you care about is merit, and you trust the Chancellor to determine your merit (and that of your colleagues), then by all means don't support the FA.

  19. Perhaps someone here could answer a few questions.

    1) What percentage of tenure/tenure-track faculty are dues paying members of the FA?

    2) If this number is lower than 50%, why is it so low?

    3) What has the FA done for the faculty at this institution?

    I really don't know the answers to these questions, so I'm hoping that someone could enlighten me. If things don't get better soon, I'm going to take the comment of Anonymous above and start looking for employment elsewhere. I'm not convinced that the FA can help much.

  20. Here are my responses to the anonymous questions. 1) and 2) I don't have exact figures but it's indeed less than 50%. Why is it so low? All sorts of reasons. Some faculty are principled opponents to the idea of a faculty union. Some are free riders. Some blame lies with the FA for failing to do much in the way of recruiting: there are reachable people who've never been asked. Some faculty fear offending the administration or anti-union colleagues--though others admittedly fear pro-union colleagues. Membership tends to come in blocks, with some departments at near full membership and others with virtually no membership. One correlation is how well a given department thinks it's being treated by the administration (those who think they are getting adequate resources or are treated as 'elite' in some sense have fewer members), another with the dominant politics of practitioners in the field (history is going to have more members than business).

    3) Here's a couple of things the FA has done.

    a. Contracts negotiated by the FA have gotten this place much closer to equity to its peers in salary (just how close I again don't know--the administration claims we're essentially there, the FA tends to disagree, but it is pretty clear that the gap is far less than it was a decade ago).

    b. The FA reached a student-Faculty ratio (meaning tenured/tenure-track faculty) in the 2003 contract, which has been maintained. This has helped SIUC avoid, for the most part, the trend of replacing tenure-track faculty with NTT adjuncts.

    I could go on but this comment on a comment is already too long. Ultimately the FA can only do what the faculty support it in doing. To employ an original phrase: don't ask what the FA can do for you, ask what you can do with the FA. Support ranges from getting informed (as this Anonymous is trying to do) to showing up at informational meetings (which far too few from any of the unions did tonight), to telling others what you've learned to showing up for protests and rallies, to helping to shape FA policy by serving in the DRC or lobbying those who do so, to going on strike should that be called for. If more faculty did this, the FA would get more done.

    Faculty apathy is the second greatest hurdle to vigorous shared governance and strong faculty unions. The greatest is of course the natural administrative tendency to desire the "flexibility" to make and implement decisions without the tedium of some more democratic process.

    Anyone who's ever had the least bit of administrative authority knows how tempting it is to just implement a policy without holding another damn meeting. The wise learn that the damn meeting, despite the tedium and inevitable ill-informed and negative faculty comments, will probably result in a better policy and certainly increase the likelihood that it will actually be implemented. We can't, alas, count on our administrators being wise.

  21. Regarding the salary compression issue:

    I have no problem with minimal salaries. Have it. But when it comes to compensation, why should you be same compression raise as someone who is not as productive? And there are *two* proposals to address compression -- equity and longevity.

    Regarding trusting the administration:

    My point was that I don't trust EITHER group. The FA would have more members and more support if they were more responsive to these issues. I may not trust the administration, but I don't trust a union that wants to reward the guy who doesn't publish, isn't a good teacher, and never comes to meetings more than me.

    And we wonder why so many talented faculty leave.

  22. The FA has suggested a rather bewildering number of different sorts of raises, but they've done so to meet distinct problems.

    I suppose you could make merit pay trump all others by saying that unproductive colleagues ought not to get any sort of pay raise, even if inflation is running at 3% (which an across the board raise would offset), they are paid 10% less than peers at a similar rank and with similar experience at similar institutions (equity), they are making less than new hires (compression), etc.

    But unless you have some provision that explicitly takes account of equity, inflation, and salary compression, the meritorious will suffer from these issues just as much as the less meritorious.

    By "equity" do you mean across the board raises? My thinking is that this component is largely to meet increases in the cost of living. Unless I'm mistaken (I won't review the FA supposal just now) the FA did not propose any separate raise devoted to equity.

    Equity isn't quite the same thing as compression, by the way: it could be that our peers also suffer from salary compression, a trend we should presumably not emulate.

    Reasonable people can certainly disagree about how much to weigh merit in relation to these other issues (not to mention about just how to figure merit). I don't see why this has to lead to mistrust. You almost certainly think a larger proportion of (hypothetical!) raises should go to merit than most in the FA do. Does that mean you can't trust anyone you disagree with?

    If you don't agree with the FA on merit pay you have an option not all faculty have with the administration: you can join the FA and attempt to change it. It's harder (though far from impossible) to help shape administrative policy.

  23. I just want to second Dave's comment. If you don't like an FA position, you have recourse: you can get more involved and active in the union, you can make the case, you can fight for your position. But I think it's pretty clear that without the union, faculty on this campus will be largely excluded from policy-making and governance. I think there's a lot we can and should do to build more trust among union members and the FA leadership. But to imply that somehow the FA leadership and the administration are equally culpable for our university's problems is to deny the significant power differential in play. Bottom line: don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Join the union, participate, and try to make it more responsive to your needs.

  24. A quick correction to my previous post: the FA supposal for mediation does include various equity provisions, though most seem to kick in only under special circumstances. Go to "bargaining info" on for the details.

  25. I'm more likely to try to sway the administration than donate a cut of my pay to the FA when they have failed to protect my current salary. It seems to me that the union is powerless.

    Natasha - You said that "without the union, faculty on this campus will be largely excluded from policy-making and governance". Isn't this essentially where the FA says we are now with the administration?

    By the way, are you the same Natasha that organized the party in front of Morris Library on Friday afternoon. If so, I think you effectively demonstrated why so many on this campus don't support the FA. Furlough days are so much fun! Yay!

  26. Faculty like the last anonymous are the ones making the FA "powerless". That's fine if you don't want a powerful union on campus, but if you imply you'd like a strong union, but won't support this union because it's not strong enough, well, you're part of the the very problem you're complaining about. Being supportive doesn't mean you can't criticize. It does mean you can't make any and every criticism a justification for sitting this one out.

    The FA wants to roll back the administration's imposed terms, including furloughs--and its ability to do so will depend largely on the support, or lack thereof, of faculty. The union will indeed be weak if most faculty are neutral. The dues don't buy some magic bullet that will make all our problems go away. Only we can solve our problems, by getting involved and supporting the FA (where "supporting" includes attempting to correct it when it goes wrong).

    It's a classic free rider problem in many ways. This doesn't mean that any criticism of the union is cover for a selfish refusal to pay dues, but the prevalent "plague on both your houses" attitude does happen to be economically convenient. When push comes to shove, neutrals will be counted as supporters of the administration, by and large. And I think it's safe to say that neutrals are in the majority right now.

    In addition to economic free riding, there's what I might call shared governance free riding. It is so much easier to sit things out, avoid controversy, speak only anonymously (I will admit to being rather disappointed that 95% of comments on this blog are authored by anonymouses--though I've also posted that way on other blogs myself, truth be told). Any misstep by the FA, or any FA position one doesn't agree with (and we can all find some such issues) serves as a justification for remaining on the sidelines, and adopting an air of scholarly objectivity and cynicism.

    To reiterate: yes, the FA has its flaws. Its leaders are flawed human beings--colleagues of your who have volunteered their time to the FA, and been brave enough to put their names and reputations on the line (as have some on the other side, like Ken Anderson, who at least deserves credit for his bravery in posting here). None of us will agree with all of the FA's positions. It will share some features many find objectionable about unions.

    The question is, what is the alternative? Do you have more faith in the faculty senate ? (If you think the FA is powerless, you'll really be impressed by the faculty senate.) Or do you trust the Chancellor to do the right thing? If you can come up with a better alternative than the FA, go for it. Otherwise, when you disagree with FA positions or tactics, criticize away and, ideally, try to get the FA to change tack. But don't pretend that every and any criticism justifies neutrality.

    It is so much easier not to care. Shared governance and democracy are a real pain in the ass. They take time you could be spending on teaching or research. You don't always win votes. If you are to participate in the most meaningful way, you have to sign your name (or speak in public). And when it costs money to vote (as in FA elections), well, that's another entirely rational reason to not bother voting at all.

    Just don't be surprised if a union you're unwilling to strengthen isn't strong enough.

  27. Here, here, Dave!

  28. By your reasoning, the FA doesn't have to bear any responsibility for the working conditions of faculty on this campus. You can just blame the faculty members that don't belong (pay dues) to the FA. Isn't that a little too convenient? Asking that all tenure and tenure-track faculty be made to pay mandatory dues to the FA (whether or not they support the FAs goals) is not a good way to gain support. This sounds eerily similar to the chancellors unilateral demands that the FA so strongly opposes.

  29. Anonymous you continue to contradict yourself.

    You criticize the union for getting raises (because your lazy colleagues who do nothing don't deserve them - I'd love to know what department you're in so we can start cracking down) and then you say the union doesn't do anything for the faculty. What about the raises?

    You criticize the union because they don't protect your salary, when that is exactly what the union is trying to do by protesting the contract language on "furloughs" (really pay cuts) which will allow the administration to cut your salary whenever they want.

    The FA got you your raises in the first place, do you want them or not? The union is trying to prevent the administration from cutting your salary whenever it feels like it, do you want them to do that or not?

    Despite what you say about your own talents and how prized you are by your superiors, the administration didn't want to raise your salary, and they just gave you a 2% pay cut. They’re obviously not that worried about your leaving for a better place.

    You imply you don't want to be excluded from negotiations but chastise the union for insisting on it with a threat of strike - that is how unions wield power. But, then you attack the FA for being “powerless.” We either use the power we have or we don’t.

    You claim the FA thinks pay cuts are fun, when they are raising their voices in protest (which was what furlough Friday was about).

    There is no logic here.

  30. Hi Anonymous, Yes, I am the "same Natasha" who organized the Furlough Friday event. I should clarify that this was not a formal union event, so please don't add it to your list of reasons to be angry at the union. An informal group of faculty organized it, and it was an attempt at parody. Sorry if you didn't get the joke. It also provided an occasion for faculty to talk with many students about the current situation, and that was great.

    I would be happy to talk with you more about these issues, but I am having difficulty having an honest dialogue with someone who won't identify him/herself. If you would ever like to have a real conversation, please feel free to shoot me an email on my SIU account, and we can grab coffee.

  31. Quick on what the union calls "fair share". Unless I'm mistaken, last time around the FA offered this proposal in negotiations: let the faculty vote on whether faculty should be required to pay for being represented by the FA. The administration rejected this proposal.

    Now too much on the broader point. There's lost of reasons not to support the FA--if only because "supporting the FA's goals" can mean so many different things. There's a lot of space between "supporting every FA bargaining position", say, and the most general characterization of the FA's goal, something like "promoting the status of faculty on campus."

    If one has to support every FA position to support the FA, the FA won't have many supporters. On the other extreme, I suspect that a strong majority of faculty support the broad goal of promoting and preserving the status of faculty (though a minority no doubt feel that faculty should remain more or less silent on issues beyond their own teaching & research).

    When push comes to shove (as may happen soon enough), a better definition of "supporting the FA" may be this: do you believe that faculty are going to do better (be paid more fairly, have a larger role in governance, etc.) with a faculty union or not?

    As a practical matter, I suppose one has to compare the historical performance and positions of this union to the current administration as it would operate without the hindrance of a faculty union.

    If you think that the FA has been so feckless, extreme, etc. that we'd be better off without it, and that the FA is unlikely to change even were you and others like you to get involved, then by all means reject it. But if you think that our string of chancellors and presidents have been feckless, too willing to sell out academic values, etc., and hence that we are better off with a FA, imperfect as it is, to give us a shot at maintaining a seat at the table, then support the FA.

    The answer is pretty clear to me, but I don't argue that reasonable people can't disagree with me on the value of a faculty union at SIUC. Maybe the cost in dues, adversarial relations, etc., outweighs the gains. What irritates me (and of course I can't know which, if any, of the anonymouses is guilty of this Mortal Sin) is when people carp at both sides and sit things out. While positioning themselves as neutrals, such people in fact lessen the power of faculty on campus--as it's tough to influence events if you are silent (or your occasional comments hit both sides equally). If you abstain, you're voting for the administration, because you're delivering the message that faculty like you don't have a position that needs to be taken into consideration.

    Thus despite priding myself on being a moderate, I suppose in this case it's the neutrals that really irritate me.

  32. One factor to consider regarding how well or poorly the FA leadership is communicating is that it is run be people with full time jobs in their spare time. One thing that would help is if the second tier of leadership - the department reps - communicated regularly with their colleagues. I don't think enough of this is done. Also many units don't have reps, so perhaps reps from smaller units could adopt a nearby one without a rep.

    For you free riders, now is the time to sign up. Now membership numbers will make the most difference in what kind of contract we end up with.

    Regarding going on strike. No one wants this. But a strike need not close done the whole campus to be successful. Yes many faculty will cross the picket line but if half the students have one or two classes cancelled there would be enormous pressure of the BOT to cut a deal. And there are four unions that could go out. TAs & NNT faculty teach a lot of sections. I hope it does not come to this, but a strike is an option.


  33. This has certainly been an interesting thread. I too was put off by the 'Furlough Friday' event. I don't see the current impasse as a good opportunity for parody. As we saw with the critical anonymous post above, events like this can be easily misinterpreted. I think the likelihood of misinterpretation also extends to the wider community where we already appear to be greedy (even if we aren't).

    In a broader sense, I think that if the FA is going to represent all tenured and tenure-track faculty, there is a need to obtain faculty input, even from those that aren't dues paying members. In my six years at SIUC, the FA has never asked for my input on any matter. Is the FA really interested in the opinions of all faculty or just those that want, and are willing to pay for, their representation? If I don't agree with FA policies, do I have any other choice than to join the FA and try to change things?

    I know that those posting here tend to be pro-FA, so my comment may not be well received. I'm legitimately trying to get a better understanding of the role of the FA in the current campus climate. I appreciate any constructive input that the FA can provide in this regard.

    Justin Schoof
    Geography and Environmental Resources

  34. Justin,

    This situation varies wildly across departments. Departments with union activists get heard more than ones without.

    Although there are plenty of people in my college who feel the FA doesn't do a good job or is biased toward or against certain people, I'm pretty sure that they would agree that the FA is willing listen to what faculty in my college want.

    Following the Daily Egyptian letter from the "silent majority," I sent an email out to all the represented faculty in my college reminding them of the meetings that the FA had held with us, summarizing the issues that had been brought up and asking if they wanted to have another meeting. A couple people wrote back with issues that I forgot to include in my summary, but no one asked for another meeting.

    Perhaps you should join the union and volunteer to be your department's representative to the FA. That way you'll have someone in your department who will schedule meetings with the FA leadership and anonymously forward the emails from people who are afraid to say anything directly to the FA leadership.

    Even if you don't want to join the union or volunteer to be your department's representative, you're still free to do those things unofficially. The email addresses of the FA leadership are listed in People Finder and on their departments' Web sites.

  35. Hi Justin,

    I would really urge you to talk with your department's FA representative about your concerns. That's part of what s/he is there for. The fact that you've felt that the FA has shown no interest in your input on issues is unfortunate. I believe that the FA needs to work on outreach, especially for people like you who are open and want to learn more about it. On the other hand, the FA leadership spend hundreds of uncompensated hours on grievance procedures and at the bargaining table, So, it's also incumbent on all of us to take some initiative and try to learn more (which is what I see your post doing).

    Thanks also for your critical feedback on Furlough Friday. Your criticisms were ones that I anticipated when I planned the event and took into serious consideration. But the fact is, it seems that at the moment, almost ANYTHING public sector workers do is vulnerable to charges of greediness and selfishness. I, along with others, have worked quite hard over the last few months to disabuse the public of those perceptions.

    There were many goals of Furlough Friday, but one of them was to insert a dose of levity and light-heartedness into a situation that, unfortunately, has grown increasingly serious because of the administration's actions at the bargaining table. This is a time of great fear for many workers on this campus (not just faculty), and I stand by my decision to attempt to bring these workers together on a sunny afternoon. I think light-heartedness and humor are important dimensions of activism, even if they are vulnerable to misinterpretation in the press.

    Please feel free to email me at my SIUC if you would ever like to talk more about the union.


I will review and post comments as quickly as I can. Comments that are substantive and not vicious will be posted promptly, including critical ones. "Substantive" here means that your comment needs to be more than a simple expression of approval or disapproval. "Vicious" refers to personal attacks, vile rhetoric, and anything else I end up deeming too nasty to post.