He starts by bashing Obama, irrelevantly. He then goes after the faculty union, arguing that regular working stiffs, whom he apparently represents, are "incensed and insulted" by our strike threat.
Because the economy is bad, he argues, unions cannot strike. A poor economy would thus appear to give employers carte blanche. The fact that many workers have been treated badly by this economy apparently proves to Mr. Metro that all workers should allow themselves to be treated badly by their employers.
He comes closest to summarizing our complaints in the following quote:
"People who earn twice my salary by teaching three classes per semester (three!) have the arrogance to accuse the stewards of the financially foundering school with hiding money, refusing to bargain in good faith and ignoring the tradition of collegial leadership."Let us pause first to note that saying that we get paid for teaching three classes a semester is a bit like saying that he gets paid to write one editorial a week. The word "research" does not of course occur in his editorial, and for Mr. Metro our peers are "similar-sized universities"--as if all universities of the same size had the same mission & stature. After mentioning our complaints about good faith bargaining and "the tradition of collegial leadership" (which I take to be the closest he can bring himself to saying "shared governance") he goes on to cite figures which purport to show that SIUC is broke and that SIUC professors are very well paid.
Mr. Metro says nothing about tenure, collective bargaining rights, or academic freedom. I will, perhaps foolishly, follow his lead here, and allow us to play the "it's all about money" game. I think even in those terms he has a rather weak case.
Most of Mr. Metro's figures are accurate enough in themselves, but some are misleading and others irrelevant. It is true that our salaries made progress vis a vis our peers during 2006-2010, but of course we have likely slipped since then, and our total compensation (including benefits) was not 1% but 6% behind our peers according to the IBHE, in 2009, the latest year for which such figures are available.
Emeritus professor Michael Madigan (a gadfly who is far from universally supportive of the FA) has nicely pointed out in the DE the problem with citing the state's shortfall in payments to SIUC as part of one's bargaining posture. We've been around and around on SIUC's overall finances enough times: let me just repeat that the FA salary offer would tie future raises to SIUC's finances. What the FA is asking for, essentially, is that professors get the same share of SIUC's revenues as they have in the past--that the administration not be allowed to continue to move money from academic salaries into other areas. We all recognize that our future prosperity is dependent on the future prosperity of SIUC. It's just that we reject the notion that the best way to allow SIUC to prosper is to shift money from academic salaries into other things. That's not in the best interest of academics--in both senses: it's not only not in the best interest of professors, but not in the best interest of students and this university as a whole.
Mr. Metro aims to score points by arguing that professors are overpaid. He points out that "it's a possible for a professor to earn $135,000 for nine months work." As a matter of fact all of 15 professors (out of the roughly 650 in the bargaining unit--hence about 2% of all faculty) make that much money or more: six each in accounting and finance, and one in psychology, management, and economics. All could presumably make rather more in the private sector. (Salary figures on all of us are readily available here, thanks to the DE.)
My own salary, as a tenured associate professor, pays me less than corporals in the SIUC police force and less than a number of foremen working for the physical plant--does that perhaps qualify me as a working stiff? I make more than $5000 less per year than the average teacher in the Carbondale Elementary School District. I don't think these people are overpaid. But neither do I think I need to be ashamed of supporting my union's effort to resist administrative efforts to cut my salary, both through furloughs and through "raises" that would fall far short of keeping up with inflation.