Saturday, March 19, 2016

Administrative bloat and union passivity?

On Monday (3/14) the Southern ran a fairly lengthy article with the thesis that folks at SIU blame Springfield, not the administration, for looming cuts. In it SIUC spokesperson Rae Goldsmith is quoted as saying that SIU already has a low ratio of administrators to students, so doesn't anticipate many cuts there. There is a similar conversation in this Carbondale Times story from Friday 3/11.

The last time I checked SIUC was not top-heavy at the highest administrative levels, compared to peers. We were however a bit heavy in administrative staff below the top grade. If there is bloat compared to peers, then, it resides at the level of all those administrators with words like 'vice', 'associate' or 'assistant' (or some absurd combination of such terms) before their titles, or in the broader ranks of AP and "Executive Civil Service" employees. (There certainly isn't bloat in rank and file CS positions, which have been cut back massively over recent years.)

Goldsmith's answer also begs the question of whether higher education in general is top-heavy. I remember a time some years ago—a rosier fiscal time, in fact—when the SIU administration was making a big point of limiting administrative costs, rather than defending them. At a very minimum, the current defensive stance strikes me as bad for morale (why not stress that we are all in this together and looking for cuts everywhere?) and bad PR (given that there's a bipartisan agreement, whether well-based or not, that universities have too much bureaucracy).

Supposed passivity by the unions after the break.

A comment to the article in the Southern and a comment on this site reference remarks made to the DE by Rachel Stocking, President of the SIUC-FA. I believe the relevant remarks are in this DE story from March 9.
“I hope very much that the administration will work with the unions to deal with this in a way that doesn’t destroy the mission — to figure out how to meet the challenge without ruining people’s lives or ruining what SIU has to give,” Stocking said.
I see nothing to be critical of here. The hope that the administration will work with the unions isn't tantamount to abandoning the right to bargain any changes to the terms and conditions of employment guaranteed by our contract. Working with the unions means reaching out to them to help form a plan, rather than announcing a plan and leaving the unions to demand to bargain. Some combination of these two approaches (working together and tough negotiations) is underway at EIU, at any rate. In my view one should always start by hoping—and pushing—for cooperation.

1 comment:

  1. The Faculty Union should be taking the offensive by demanding reductions in the administrative levels you document as well as Athletics before they go after Faculty. As Dusty Springfield sang years ago, "Wishing and Hoping" gets you nowhere.


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