Unions and Unity
Today in my SIUC email I received yet another communication from Mike Eichholz (copied below). And as usual, it appears that the FSN is not only naïve but complacent about transpired history and the messages that history conveys. The email states that 162 signatures were collected from those who “have supported us to this point.” If I recall correctly, turning in the signature cards was SUPPOSED TO BE only an indication of interest in calling an election, with support of the FSN’s position (decertification) as only one of three options. But as I suspected, the FSN used the fact that a card was turned in as evidence of support, and that was exactly why I didn’t do it.
But what is most disconcerting is the statement that they intend to continue their activities during the last year of the current contract. To me, this reflects complete inflexibility, i.e. “we are against the Faculty Association now and will always be against it, no matter who represents that group or what its future positions may be”. As previously articulated by Dave Johnson during the post-strike WSIU interview and on this blog, the FSN and other non-union faculty who disagree with particular policies should consider joining the FA to make their voices heard. It is a democratic association that represents nearly half the faculty. We are all at the same university and part of the richness of this institution is the diversity of opinions that can collectively contribute to solving myriad problems. If you want to change the system, become engaged and your power to do so increases.
Above I said the FSN is naïve, so let me explain. They believed (hoped?) that more than 50% of the faculty were dissatisfied with the FA and that these people would turn out in sufficient numbers to vote on decertification. As it turned out, only about 25% of the faculty returned the cards, and we cannot assume that all of them are against the FA. Let’s consider the population of people who have not yet joined the union. I suspect a large fraction of them are faculty who are used to having their own opinions about any issue and do not feel comfortable having any organization represent them. I know this is the reason for low union representation in several departments of the College of Science. But ironically it was exactly this cohort of people that the FSN hoped to sway towards – yes, joining their organization. In my opinion, that just won’t happen, in 2011 or in 2014. And even if the FSN could assemble all of the non-union faculty and become the group representing them, this group would likely be even more politically heterogeneous than the current FA membership. And with no membership fees, etc., all the current FA members would then be able to participate, thus contributing even more towards diversity of opinions.
So my message to Mike Eichholz and others in the FSN is to give up this quixotic quest and face reality. At least consider the option of joining the FA as a means to effect change on this campus, that is, if they in fact acknowledge the need for change as opposed to the absence of collective bargaining and a complete acceptance top-down policies imposed by the Administration.
Dan Nickrent, Professor of Plant Biology
Email from Mike Eichholz:
December 9, 2011 8:52:52 AM CST
We would like to thank those of you that have supported us to this point. One hundred and sixty two signatures of the approximately 200 necessary for a vote were collected. Unfortunately, with the ratification of the new contract, our effort must be suspended. State regulations limit petitioning for decertification or replacement of the representation agent to a period from January 15 – March 1 of the last year of a contract. Additionally signatures are only valid for six months, thus we will be unable to use signatures collected to this point. Unless you notify us indicating you would like your signature card returned, signature cards will be shredded by the end of next week. We intend to continue this effort and plan to again attempt to acquire the necessary number of signatures for petitioning a vote of decertification or replacement during the last year of the new contract. If you would like to provide input and help develop the new effort, please contact one of the executive committee members.