Monday, May 2, 2011

Monday roundup

First a reminder: There is a general meeting of the FA, NTT-FA, ACsE, and GA United unions today at 4:45 in Lawson 141. All people represented by these unions are welcome to attend: this is an informational meeting, not a rally, and will feature a considerable amount of time for questions.

On to news items. First, a nice story in the DE on Furlough Friday. Ignore the deceptive headline, "Unions Protest Contracts": this was not an official "union" event, and the folks there weren't disputing contracts, as the imposed furloughs weren't part of a contract--an agreement between unions and administration. And there must have been good photo ops--too bad they couldn't spare a photographer.

A powerful letter in the DE by Richard Fedder, arguing that the "silent majority" are neither silent nor a majority. (Again with a misleading and in fact incomprehensible headline, I'm afraid.)

A lengthy Chronicle of Higher Education article takes on the question of "What Good do Faculty Unions Do?" Its conclusions are mixed: it is hard to identify salary gains (in large part due to difficulties in isolating effects of unionization from differences in the cost of living and other factors), but there is some evidence that faculty unions ensure faculty a larger role in shared governance and protect faculty interests in other ways. Quote after the break.

The chief benefits of unionization appear to have less to do with getting faculty members more bread than in giving them some say over how it is sliced. Those who belong to collective-bargaining units have been found by researchers to have more say in the management of their institutions and how the faculty payroll is divvied up.

"At institutions where a substantial number of the faculty are represented in collective bargaining, you are much more likely to have a substantial faculty voice in governance," says Marc Bousquet, an associate professor of English at Santa Clara University, regular blogger for The Chronicle, and co-chairman of an American Association of University Professors committee on the working conditions of adjunct faculty members.


  1. I worked at two other universities before coming to SIUC. Neither of them had faculty unions and both had better working conditions than we have. I'm not opposed to the FA, but I'm not convinced that they have done much to improve my working conditions at SIUC.

  2. I too have experienced better working conditions at other universities. But keep in mind the poor conditions here are why the union was voted in. We have made progress in grievances and equity pay. Grievance disputes and resolutions tend to happen below most people's radar. It is hard for the FA to brag about its achievements because the cases are confidential.

    Part of the reason for the bad working conditions is that SIUC cannot decide what it is: a research university or an adult remediation center. We hire faculty based on their research and admit students like we're a community college. The FA really has little to do with that issue one way or the other.

    Also declining enrollment causes funding problems and hence increases tension and ranker. The FA has little to do with this.



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