We've known all along that the real impetus behind the delay tactics of our contract negotiations was an attempt to bust or cripple the unions. The Administration was counting on an anti-union wave that seemed to be sweeping the country a year ago. They banked (and by "banked," I mean invested a LOT of money that we apparently cannot afford) on that sentiment being enough to continue their centralization of power and denial of collective bargaining. Let's pause to contemplate these bad investments after the break...
As with so much in the last 500 days, they got the anti-union national sentiment idea wrong. Just look to Ohio where a state-wide referendum on last year's attempt to limit collective bargaining just returned a solid vote in favor of unions, in favor of collective bargaining.
The spin has already begun in the comments section here and elsewhere that what the FA has gained at the negotiation table as a result of collective bargaining and our legal right to strike has been minimal and not worth a strike. It is a dangerous argument to make. If those concessions really are so minor, you have to wonder about an Administration that chose to play chicken with a strike instead of make such "minor" concessions in the first place. And of course, if they are not so minor (which is closer to the truth), then you have to concede there was a reason to strike and the FA has been successful.
We are back out on the line for yet another day when this whole issue could and should have been resolved by now. Our Administration continues to show a lack of vision and extreme pettiness as it draws out negotiations for another day. Parents and students begin to document the ways the Administration has failed to deliver on its cavalier promises of "business as usual," sharing their views in a national petition supporting the SIUC faculty (see a sample of those comments here). Students and community members also use the newly-reopened-for-comments SIUC Facebook page to share their stories of the failure of "business as usual" on the campus (check out posts here).
So what's holding up the resolution of this contract? In part, a petulant and petty Administration determined to salvage something out of its investment in union busting. Part of the back to work agreement insists on a vague and threatening stipulation that the Administration will "discipline" individuals for their strike behavior. Given that this Administration has lied to its students and the rest of the community, not been able to deliver on "business as usual" or "qualified substitute instructors," censored its web presence, tried to limit the campus newspaper's ability to report, and generally wasted state monies pursuing an almost pathological vendetta against unions, maybe it is the Administration and its lack of leadership that needs to be disciplined. I personally think paying the strikers for the important education they have provided the Administration and the community about the importance of quality education and collective bargaining would be an appropriate penalty for the Administration's gross mismanagement.
The BOT arrives today and we look forward to being quite noisy for them. They can't be happy about the fact that their investment in union busting is going to return no real gains (quite the opposite, actually!). But I encourage them to look at Ohio and stop throwing good money after bad. It is time for the Administration to start working with the faculty instead of against them. It is time for this contract negotiation to be resolved and for this strike to end!