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.