Sunday, July 31, 2011

Union Membership and Union Support

The Southern ran a balanced or even pro-union story on membership this morning, under the headline "SIUC Unions: Support is Strong". One could readily imagine the story being spun the other way, as membership levels reported are all at or below 33%. But probably Codell Rodriguez didn't find anyone to spin it that way on the record, so he played it straight. While it is entirely possible that an administration source gave him the numbers (which aren't a state secret, by the way, so this would just be normal story seeding, not anything unethical), no administration source was apparently available to opine that membership levels showed weak support for the unions. So the story consists largely of union presidents saying their unions are strong (though Anita Stoner is a bit more balanced in her analysis of things regarding the NTT).  Despite their rabidly anti-union editorial stance, the Southern's reporting is fairly even handed, for which they deserve credit.

The comparison Randy Hughes made to cultural organizations--who enjoy the informal and non-financial support of many but financial and time contributions from few--helps explain low membership. Union membership drives are a bit like NPR pledge drives. The problem is that everyone benefits from the union, whether or not they pay dues. And union dues are rather higher than my NPR membership.  My own ramblings on the overall impact of the membership issue, likely to infuriate many readers (as if there were many readers out there to infuriate), after the break.

I find this membership issue rather curious. The union always asks for "Fair Share" in bargaining, which would require all faculty to pay dues. Though they wouldn't be officially forced to join the union, they would have to pay almost as much as members (enough to pay their 'fair share' to support union activities on their behalf), so presumably most would join, as joining would give them a vote on union matters. The administration says no, arguing that faculty are professionals who shouldn't be forced to join a labor union. Presumably the administration believes that it also benefits from the status quo, as it can, say, suggest that the Southern run a story on union membership numbers; and the FA presumably believes that the status quo hurts it, for the same reason.

My guess is that the status quo doesn't help one side or the other so much as it helps to polarize things. It is obvious a source of tension in itself.  Union members resent their colleagues who fail to join, especially when those colleagues seem sympathetic but are unwilling to declare themselves or pay dues; we have a classic free-rider problem here. Non-members no doubt have similar resentments; in units where union membership is strong, they likely feel pressure to join, and in the current set up joining the union is tantamount to supporting the union's positions.

Yet the status quo is, in one sense, a boon for hard-core union folks, as they can have a disproportionate impact on union votes. It's also good for hard-core opponents of the union, who would like the union to be abolished, as they can point to low membership--and of course they also don't have to pay dues. It enables them to consider themselves the silent majority. If all faculty--or all but a few conscientious objectors who chose to opt out--belonged to the FA, it could be a rather different organization, and could have a rather different relationship with the administration, I think. The FA leadership might well be more cautious, and the administration couldn't just try to act as if the union didn't exist (as they did by imposing terms).

I don't want to exaggerate: I don't think the current union leadership has been too radical, probably because they are responsible enough to regard themselves as representing the interests of all faculty, whether or not those faculty are members. And Fair Share wouldn't necessarily lead to a radically improved campus climates. But it might well improve things. And things could certainly stand to be improved around here.


  1. Dave,

    You might be well advised to be more familiar with case law related to “fair share” before you pronounce judgement. This matter has been before the courts before who found:

    “educators cannot be required to do more than pay a union fee (typically called an "agency fee") that equals their share of what the union can prove is its costs of collective bargaining, contract administration, and grievance adjustment.”

    "The employer and the union must establish certain procedures to safeguard your right to pay only a limited fee to the union. These safeguards include giving you:

    • audited financial information about how the amount of the agency fee was calculated;

    • an opportunity to challenge the amount of the agency fee before an impartial decision-maker; and,

    • the right to place the contested amount of the agency fee in escrow so that the union will not be able to illegally use your money while a decision on the proper amount of the agency fee is pending. “

    The relevant judgments can be found at

    Any effort to impose full FA dues on faculty opposed to the union and its activities would most certainly result in a lawsuit. Calling such dues “fair share” is just a euphemism. They are a tax at best and at worst a form of extortion akin to a protection racket.

  2. Anonymous,

    Dave wrote, "Though they wouldn't be officially forced to join the union, they would have to pay almost as much as members (enough to pay their 'fair share' to support union activities on their behalf), so presumably most would join, as joining would give them a vote on union matters."

    If almost all of the money the union spends is directly related to collective bargaining, contract administration, and grievance adjustment (which I hope is the case), you and Dave agree on the facts of the law.

  3. Dave is right about one thing, the faculty-faculty climate around campus could stand some improvement.

    Now that the union membership numbers are public knowledge and it is clear that given a choice, more than two thirds of all faculty have elected NOT to join the union, Perhaps, just perhaps, union supporters will put the brakes on some of the more egregious rhetoric posted on this blog?

    Perhaps the “vocal minority” will be a little less tolerant of those who compare those of their fellow faculty who do not share pro-union views to fascists and Nazis? Perhaps more will step forward and condemn those who call their colleagues “asslickers” for the simple sin of disagreeing with their views.

    Perhaps there will be a little less contempt?

    Perhaps, but I doubt it…

  4. Paranoid,

    Good idea! Why don’t we ask the FA to post audited financial statements so that everyone could have a clear idea of where the FA spends its $ and what the agency would actually be?

  5. Current FA dues are $633. According to the SI, there are 231 (of 694) faculty having $ deducted from their pay for union dues. That means the FA will take in at least $146,233.00. (More if some members pay directly by check, although that number is probably small.)

    The union is perpetually calling for greater transparency from the Administration. How is that money going to be spent? I thought (and it has been stated on this blog) that FA officers (and I presume negotiators, college reps etc.) are volunteers. So where does the money go??

    Just asking.

  6. has a breakdown of where the money goes. Alas, it isn't all that clear.

    An optimist would say that the top three categories on the list plus legal support (85%) go toward bargaining (paying for a shared office and support staff for the southern Illinois IEA locals, paying to a fund that will cover strike expenses if there's a strike, paying to train the volunteer union leaders, and paying for legal help/insurance). Considering how harsh the comments on this thread are, I doubt y'all are optimists.

    As the first anonymous notes, if you would like to require a public financial audit of the FA's expenses, demanding 'fair share' or an 'agency fee' in the next contract is a way to get what you desire.

  7. If every one of the 694 faculty were a union member, then current dues would result in a net income of $439,302.00 - three times the current FA income. Presumably the current income of $146,233.00 is sufficient to meet current expenses, so does that mean that the plan would be to cut FA dues by two thirds if so-called “fair share” is implemented? I haven’t heard that anywhere! Or is the rationale behind the push for “fair share” just to lower the financial burden on FA supporters by forcing those they belittle and berate, demonize and vilify, to pay for the privilege of being wrong (in the view of those that blog here)? What plans does the FA have for this enormous windfall ($293,069.00)? I would DEFINITELY want answers to that before I would consider voting for a strike that would be fighting to impose fair share? Why doesn’t Randy Hughes or the IEA rep post some answers for all to evaluate – and don’t be shy about including details.

  8. Anonymous (2:17 PM),

    You have good questions, that I can't answer.

    One statement, "I would DEFINITELY want answers to that before I would consider voting for a strike that would be fighting to impose fair share?" is off the mark.

    If there were a strike, the purpose of it would not be to impose fair share. The purpose of it would be to push the administration toward being more willing to compromise on a list of issues that the FA brought forward. In all likelihood, the FA would only "win" on some of the things on that list.

    I personally don't care much one way or another about fair share. I am ready to go on strike to retain a meaning of tenure that is generally understood in higher education and not the shadow of it that's currently in the imposed terms.

  9. The “strike watch I” notice posted by the FA (specifically posted Randy Hughes, although I am sure that he posted it on behalf of the FA) specifically includes a demand for implementation of “fair share”. Drop that and we can talk about just the other issues. but there is no provision for separating out individual demands and while that demand remains, a call for a strike is a call for a strike demanding “fair share” and my comment is on the mark.

    Faculty (ALL faculty) are entitled to answers from the FA, especially now that it is clear that it is a minority organization.

  10. Wow, that was fast: but I was thinking I'd get hammered from the left, not the right.

    To anonymous #1, no, I haven't reviewed the case law. In fact, I have reviewed no case law at all, ever, and have no plans to do so. My layperson's understanding is that fair share wouldn't mandate "dues" per se but would obligate faculty to pay a figure that amounted to more or less the same amount. What limited research I've done confirms as much. The links I provide below will give you the means to learn way more about Fair Share than you'll ever want to learn.

    For a bit more on where IEA dues go, check out this link.

    For much more on how fair share would work, see the 2010-2011 "Hudson packet" provided to employees at fair share institutions. It includes an audited account of IEA finances.

    I've even stumbled across an IEA/NEA "Fair Share Book" aimed at providing local leaders information on why Fair Share is a good thing, and how to push it.

    I myself used to fear that too large a proportion of our dues went to the IEA, and too little remained with the local--which, I can confirm, is not lavishly funded (mainly printing costs, food for meetings, and the like--certainly no money for officers). But if you've been following the pension and health care debates at all you know that we need a voice in Springfield. The IEA gives us that.

    Will the FA go to strike over "Fair Share"? Of course not. Might it be in the mix of issues the FA still hopes to make progress on should we get to a strike vote? Sure. As the flare-up on this issue shows here, however, fair share is so toxic an issue that the union has always dropped it pretty quickly.

    Yet for the reasons outlined above, I think that achieving fair share might make the faculty-administration relationship, and the relationship between union and non-union faculty, less toxic. Anyone have a view on that? Perhaps, judging by these comments, those opposed to fair share would remain so bitter that there would be no possibility for improved relations within the faculty.

  11. Dave, re your comment on the status quo

    “It's also good for hard-core opponents of the union, who would like the union to be abolished, as they can point to low membership--and of course they also don't have to pay dues. It enables them to consider themselves the silent majority.”

    I am not aware of many who would like to completely abolish the FA. There probably are some, but those I speak with simply want to opt out. That is, they choose not to belong to the FA, so why is it that the FA speaks for them? They have no objection to others choosing to belong to the FA and being represented by it, but they would prefer not to be represented by the FA themselves, for any number of reasons (and the reasons I hear are pretty diverse).

    Why not implement a system wherein only those who choose to belong to the FA are represented by it? Let the FA represent itself as the collective voice of its membership, instead of the voice of all SIU faculty? Others can speak for themselves as they choose. That would also eliminate (what you rather derisively refer to as) the “free-rider problem” as well. Those who do not belong are not covered by bargaining agreements negotiated by the FA. Those who choose not to be members of the FA would simply be free agents.

  12. If the minority of faculty who belong to the FA is going to ask the majority of faculty (who do not) to support a demand for “fair share”, then tell us up front what the “agency fee” will be and show us where the money will actually go. Show us an independent auditor’s assessment of what fraction of the FA dues actually goes towards costs of collective bargaining, contract administration, and grievance adjustment for faculty at SIU (not across all IEA/NEA affiliated groups) and tell us how much money you want to take out of our individual pockets so we know what we are voting for.

    If you are not prepared to do that, then drop the fair share issue now.

  13. Those anti-union faculty who have benefited from the salary increases the Union has negotiated for them and cravenly support an administration that has virtually removed tenure from them deserve all the contempt they get. Despite what they feel there is no such thing as a "free ride" and they should contribute to what they have gained from a union that has put the brakes on what they administration attempted to do years ago - the very thing that got a union here in the first place.

  14. Good one, Anonymous July 31. But could it also not be said that those who support a Chancellor who acts like a dictator in the manner of her 1930s predecessor by wishing to destroy unions also deserve the title of "fascist"?

  15. Not all who don't join are free-riders. Many don't join out of principle. On the other hand, many "support" without joining. I suppose some of them are "free riders" financially. But many of them won't cross a picket line.

    Re "free riding". All of us pick our fights and our causes. I'm a free rider on lots of issues--that is, there are lots of good causes I "support" only in the abstract. Most of the time, and even this late in the game, faculty don't have to choose whether they support the FA or the administration, and the default setting is non-membership in the FA. Most of us choose the default setting most of the time. A strike would force people to join sides. The result would be unpredictable, with union membership providing only a partial guide to how the chips would fall. We all know members who wouldn't strike and non-members who wouldn't cross a picket line.

    The documents I linked to provide exhaustive information on how the IEA and NEA spend dues, and the vast majority of dues money goes to the IEA and NEA. We should get the local to open its books; I'll ask Randy to do so, to account for the small proportion of dues retained by the local. The results will be dull: food for union meetings, printing costs for union fliers. No football stadiums, last I checked.

    If you're on the faculty here, I'm afraid the FA represents you, in some important sense, whether you want it to or not. It negotiates your contract. The law, as I understand it in my lay manner, doesn't allow a workplace to be half unionized and half not: imagine the chaos with half of the faculty working under a union contract, half without. That's a non-starter.

    The only way to arrange to be completely free of the union is to decertify it. I suppose decertification could, like fair share, lead to less friction on campus. Good luck getting the majority of the faculty to vote for that after furloughs, imposed terms undermining tenure, and Saluki Way.

    If you don't like the way the union is handling things but don't think decertification is possible or advisable, you have two options. One is simply to speak up, ideally shedding the veil of anonymity, as some members of the silent majority have bravely if not silently done. The other is to join the union and attempt to change it from within. Given the relatively low number of volunteers active in union matters and meetings, this is not an impossible task. If you object to the union's current approach to things, you would not be warmly embraced, of course, any more than Nancy Pelosi was happy to see the Tea Party move in; but the union is ultimately a democratic body, and you'd be heard and could gain real influence, even in the minority.

  16. To anonymous (9:51 PM):

    Huh? Because of the history of some major fascist governments, the word "fascist" is associated with killing people to achieve the will of the state.

    As dictatorial as the chancellor may be in how she wants to run the university, I don't think she's out to literally kill her opponents.

    Using the word "facist" as a shorthand for hierarchy, concentration of power, and suppression of dissent ignores the even more awful things that fascism stands for.

  17. Shame to all those who are asking FA to produce documents to show where the money paid by dues paying members is going. Why don’t you join all those who are fighting to get the answer to the same question from administration that is wasting tax payers’ money on their pet projects and pet people? Where did the surplus from last year go? Didn’t you read that Nicklow got $80,000 raise in just one year and over 340% raise in the last 5 years? Just look at your paychecks. Do you think you will be getting this salary if the FA leaders had not negotiated excellent the contracts for you? Faculty and staff will have no voice at this campus if there are no unions. Faculty Senate and Graduate council are no more than a joke. There are too many administration puppets serving on these bodies.

  18. Faculty Senate isn't a joke because of having administrative puppets. It's a joke because its role on most matters is advisory. The administration ignores or follows what the Senate suggests at the administration's whim.

    Heck, lately the administration's version of getting advice from the Senate is to tell Senators in passing during a report that the administration is thinking about something and then to implement it without any further Senate discussion of it.

  19. Anonymous July 31, 2011 11:08 PM

    Shame on us… ??? The university’s finances are regularly independently audited and the results are public. In fact the FA made use of some of that data in preparing its own white papers.

    The FA is demanding that faculty who do not agree with its positions or tactics (or for any other reason) pay it an annual tribute of hundreds of dollars, and does not wish even to tell us where the money will go or how it will be used.

    Shame on you for your double standard!

  20. Dave,

    “[I]magine the chaos with half of the faculty working under a union contract, half without.” What chaos? The situation you describe is normal in most work places. In fact 22 states (regrettably not including Illinois) have laws on the books prohibiting closed shops like SIU and even in Illinois there are many organizations that function perfectly well with unions representing only a portion of their workforces. Check out “Right to work” law or the Taft-Harley act.

    The real question is what gives the FA the right to speak for those that do not share its views and do not want to be represented by it?

  21. Because there was an election where union representation was selected, and because it is the law? I don't understand your comments, this is all well known.

  22. Dear Anonymous July 31, 2011 11:08 PM:
    If you pocketed thousands of dollars made possible through an excellent contract FA leaders negotiated by using the hard earned money paid only by the FA members, you should be ashamed of yourself for making such comments. You are willing to pocket the money but not willing to pay for the cost of bargaining and defending your rights. Faculty and staff are treated like dirt at this campus because of people like you. It is perfectly fine if you do not want to pay, but at least have the decency to recognize the time and effort put in by the FA leaders on your behalf. Keep in mind; the FA leaders don’t get paid to defend your rights but administrators receive hefty compensations for destroying them. Thank you FA for an excellent work you have done for me. Keep up the good work. If we have to strike, we have to strike to provide excellent education to our students and defend our rights.

  23. To Anonymous 11:08 PM. When did the FA refuse to release information? Perhaps I missed that somewhere.

    To Anonymous 8:13 am. The FA's right and duty to represent me is grounded on the same basic principle that allows both Mark Kirk (R) and Dick Durbin (D) to represent me. Or, over time, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. It's known as representative democracy.

    You propose the equivalent of a constitutional reform. Do you know of an educational institution with half unionized and half non-unionized instructional staff--at the same level? (No doubt some, as SIUC used to, have unionized TT and non-union NTT or the like.) If you do, we could take a look to see how well that works. But I remain rather skeptical. I'd like to have my own chancellor, too, and would have liked my own president back when W was in charge.

    This heated exchange provides some evidence that a big part of the problem around here is people's unwillingness to recognize that SIUC has a faculty union, and so long as it has one, we need to work with it. If you don't like the union, by all means try to change its priorities or even decertify it. That is a perfectly rational approach (though I of course consider decertification a very poor idea indeed, and find the union's current priorities eminently sensible). But just wishing it to go away, or shouting for it to go away, doesn't do us any good. The administrations's decision to impose terms is part of the same mind-set.

  24. Sorry for multiple responses, and to throw more fuel on the fire, but a quip summing up the status quo just occurred to me:

    Representation Without Taxation.

  25. If your quip means that the FA is dropping its call for fair share, great, but I doubt that was your intent.

    So, in the mean time why doesn't someone just tell the faculty what the agency fee will be and how it was calculated? How many $? A number, something concrete that we can budget for.

    I presume that that figure must be known by someone in the FA (or IEA/NEA) because I assume that they knew what they were asking for before they put it in a list of demands calling for a strike. If we are going to have to vote on it, just tells us what it is, that's all. It does not seem to be an unreasonable question.

  26. The faculty who do not want to be in a union but have gained financially ever since its existence may want to sign a form to donate their raises to either Glenn Poshard or the Saluki Way. Since they support the administration, they should have no trouble making a financial contribution to the other side rather than selfishly benefiting from the hard work of union negotiators.

    Also, Rita may not be out to kill anyone like a 100% fascist dictator but removing tenure allows her to fire anyone at will. Unlike accountants and lawyers, academics do not have the opportunity of alternative employment especially in this economy. So firing any faculty member (especially those with over 25 years of service as has happened in some States) is equivalent to a death sentence especially with the cuts that the latest action of our spineless President will soon encourage, cuts that may drastically affect unemployment relief and the already weak programs of the New Deal era.

  27. Isn't there something in the imposed contract or one of the proposals that says only 30 days notice is required for layoffs? To me, that is the death sentence. Given faculty hiring schedules, you are automatically out of work for six months or more. At least the accountant or lawyer could, in theory, be hired immediately by another firm. If that provision is in place-- I thought I read it somewhere-- we have every reason to fear.

  28. Not sure if this is the current position but here is the 30 day proposal.

  29. If I adequately skimmed the documents I linked to, "fair share" charges would indeed be essentially equivalent to current dues levels, as the IEA argues that it devotes all its resources to working on the behalf of its members (as we would expect it to say and hope that it would do). One can certainly decline to pay the small amount of dues the IEA/NEA allocates to political lobbying not directly in the service of members. And there is a legal process to object to a larger proportion of the fee one would asked to pay under fair share, though I don't know if such objections are likely to succeed. But the basic bottom line is that all faculty would be asked to pay more or less the same amount to be represented (in the sense I've argued for above) by the union.

    I've written union leaders telling them of the popularity of this thread and asking them to detail local expenses.

  30. To Anonymous (7:01 PM):
    Quoting from the imposed terms

    "19.05. The Board shall provide written notification of the full or partial layoff to a Faculty member affected by the layoff at least thirty (30) days prior to the effective date of the layoff. The Association shall receive copies of the notifications."

  31. To anonymous 5:14 PM

    It is unfortunate that your support for the FA is so deeply rooted in insecurity. Please consider that fear makes people act irrationally and fear over a long period is especially toxic to the mind. You have my (genuine) sympathies. Personally, I doubt you have much reason to fear being laid off, but please keep in mind that there is a reason for the truism –“ good people always have opportunities”.

    As to your suggestion that faculty who do not support the FA should return raises gained through contracts negotiated by the FA. This has come up before, both on this blog and elsewhere, and has been dismissed because it is, of course, silly.

    The premise underlying your argument is that without collective bargaining no one would have received any raises - and that is simply not the case. Collective bargaining is not the only means to achieve advancement. Individual bargaining is also practiced by professionals all over the world in all disciplines and work environments, including academia. Look around at non-unionized faculty at other universities; are the all starving? Of course not! In fact some are better paid than SIU faculty (although admittedly it is hard to compare faculty in different locations due to geographic and local market factors). In fact I would guess that the vast majority of professionals with advanced degrees work without union representation and they are not all destitute. They negotiate individually for salary and benefits and although you may not have practiced it personally, or may be uncomfortable with the idea of doing so, it can be done successfully. There is even an argument that the current collective bargaining system at SIU has held successful faculty back financially, since those faculty whose work achieves particular recognition cannot then go to the administration and negotiate for increased compensation based on that achievement. It is my understanding that the only circumstance in which an individual can ask for an adjustment in their compensation is if they have an offer in hand from another university. Then the contract allows the administration to match that offer. The problem is that that forces good faculty to look elsewhere and once they have done so and been wooed by other institutions, they often leave anyway. That weakens SIU as we loose good faculty. (Proof, I guess of the truism I cited above!)

    Collective bargaining is one means to achieve advancement, but it is by no means the only one and it is not even always the best one.

    Good luck to you!

  32. But Anonymous 7:15, weren't salaries at SIUC well below those at peer institutions until recently? I doubt this would have happened without FA bargaining.

  33. John,

    We can never know whether that imbalance would have been corrected by individual bargaining or not. Maybe so, Maybe not. My post was directed to simply say that:
    1. Collective bargaining is not the only option.
    2. Collective bargaining may not always be the best option, especially for some individuals, and
    3. Calls for non-FA supporters to return raises are simply silly - just as silly as saying for example, that the FA should compensate faculty who feel they have been held back by not being allowed to bargain individually. Just nonsense!

  34. Of course, there are some individuals and some institutions where individual bargaining over salaries might be advantageous. But we are here at SIU, and I don't think it is a coincidence that average salaries increased after the faculty unionized. By the way, I have observed a number of highly productive faculty leave SIU for other institutions, and bargaining over salaries had little to do with it.

  35. IMO, you are partially correct. When highly product faculty leave SIU it is usually either for personal reasons or because they feel that their accomplishments are not sufficiently recognized or appreciated at SIU. The "one size fits all" salary increases negotiated by the FA are a part of that problem because they leave little or no room for consideration of merit in determining raises (at least the merit fraction is usually so small as to be insignificant). They cannot remedy that by individual negotiation because the FA contract will not allow it.

    There is also the issue that highly productive faculty know that whatever gains they can eek out will be eroded in future by equity raises for less productive/successful faculty. That's a major demotivating factor and tends to push our most successful faculty towards considering other options - and it certainly does not endear the FA to them.

  36. Despite the contract negotiated by the FA, there are large differences in salary for equal rank in my department. Somehow it happens...

  37. Compression is still the major problem here with some tenured faculty (who are productive) earning less than newly appointed tenure track faculty. Higher administrative contempt for faculty, especially on the pasrt of those who were never productive when they were in faculty ranks, is a huge part of the problem. So is a Faculty Senate whose role is purely advisoty and treated like a joke by the administration who can simply do what they want.

  38. Dave, your post generated heat and light. Wow.

    "But if you've been following the pension and health care debates at all you know that we need a voice in Springfield. The IEA gives us that."

    Yes and no. The problem is that the IEA is seen by all in Springfield as an appendage of the Democratic Party. Democrats want the $$$ from the unions but Illinois is such that the Dems can take unions for granted--or even go after things like pensions or raise strike vote requirements (as they did per Emanuel's request in Chicago).

    The $64K question is what value is the IEA in Springfield to higher ed faculty? Cuts will (are) being made and, let's face it, the IEA gets most of its dues from K-12 teachers, not us. So if a choice were made . . . The IEA put up a weak fight against the requirement for 75% "yea" strike vote in Chicago last year. Why? Because Chicago is not IEA territory; it "belongs" to AFT (see Myron Lieberman's _Teacher Unions_, a critical look at the NEA and AFT but by someone who believes in unions). So Dems may "divide and conquer" K-12 and higher ed OR go for downstate (IEA) next time and leave Chicago alone (getting the votes of those AFT-backed Democrats).

    As for fair share, I'm probably one of the few (only?) members of the FA who has also contributed to the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation over the years.

    They have sued state union affiliates for charging "fair share" members far too much -- i.e., by counting campaign donations as under some other "fair share" inclusive category. Years ago, the NRWLDF lawyer informed me that they had a working agreement in Illinois to get non-members a 35% reduction, although they believe the nonbargaining fees are greater proportion than that amount. But, as I recall, you have to ASK for a rebate each year of the full union dues if you opt out of the FA. I'll check with NRTWLDF and the contact they gave me at the state ed labor relations board. However, I don't see this administration giving into fair share.

    On principle, I'm opposed to agency fees/fair share because it leaves no real option to "vote with your feet" to keep a union honest. But that's a longer post and I've already written an op-ed in the DE on that point (though that was a while ago).

  39. Remember how this thread started? Two thirds of all faculty have already “voted with their feet” – it hasn’t done a thing to curb the FA. Even though we are currently working under an imposed contract and have a published notice of intent to strike hanging over us, the majority of faculty STILL have chosen NOT to join the FA.

    Even in these circumstances FA supporters still claim that they have legitimate mandate to speak for all (even while spitting their contempt at the majority of faculty who have chosen to distance themselves from the FA) by pointing to a one-time vote that took place well over a decade ago, (before many current faculty were even at SIU).

    The bloggers on this site apparently think that a strike vote will be a sure bet. I am not so sure about that, but I am sure it will be acrimonious and that it will tear the faculty apart.

  40. Jon, thanks for the post and the info from the Right to Work people.

    I'm no expert on state politics, but the size of the IEA is no doubt both a hindrance and a help: the larger the union, the more influence it has, but the more constituencies it has to support, the more difficult it becomes for it to support each constituency. Similar problems would probably arise if the IEA represented Chicago and downstate, rather than splitting it with the AFT, yes?

    You're wrong, I think, about the IEA being a lock for democrats: the IEA just endorsed Judy Baar Topinka over the democrat David Miller, presumably to punish him for supporting "pension reform" (though I can't say for sure: I found this news on external websites but not on the IEA's own). The IEA endorsed George Ryan against . . . Glen Poshard. And in 2006 the IEA refused to back Blagoyevich's re-election (while also not baking Topinka). So the IEA has shown it can both back Republicans and sit things out.

  41. The FA spitting their contempt? I call troll.

  42. Quoting from above (just this thread)

    “anti-union faculty who have benefited from the salary increases the Union has negotiated for them and cravenly support an administration that has virtually removed tenure from them deserve all the contempt they get.”

    “could it also not be said that those who support a Chancellor who acts like a dictator in the manner of her 1930s predecessor by wishing to destroy unions also deserve the title of "fascist"?”

    “Faculty Senate and Graduate council are no more than a joke. There are too many administration puppets serving on these bodies.”

    I could quote from numerous other threads, with similar comments, as well

  43. I concede there are some ripe comments in this thread, but I've never heard anything like that from the FA itself.

  44. Re voting with your feet: Under the current arrangement you don't have to move your feet at all to avoid being a member of the union. You can stay seated. And to join the union you need not only to take a walk, but to pay around $600 a year—for no substantial tangible benefit in return, as the union represents you whether you pay or not, and whether you want it to or not. So it's something of a rigged vote. "Fair share" would be rigged in a different way, true enough; my thinking is that it would be improved rigging.

    More decisive measures of union support would be, first, should it come to that, a vote to authorize a strike; while only members would be able to vote, their votes would show how strong rank & file support is for the union's position on bargaining. And then we may all, members or no, get to vote with our feet if a strike comes, when all would have to decide whether to walk across the picket line or not.

  45. "The IEA endorsed George Ryan against . . . Glen Poshard"

    True, but I recall the Ryan election and me (Mr. libertarian with a small "l") thinking of him as "LBJ Ryan": He promised to spend more than any one had ever spent on anything. I think redistricting is a game changer and titled the state for a long time to come.

    But partisan politics is relatively meaningless in this state. The Dems are in power and we still get Wisconsin style moves despite paying way more than those people paid in WI before Walker came along. We've paid 8.5% since I got here toward our pensions. In Missouri they pay 1%! (MO is not a right-to-work state).

  46. PS: Dave, how do you right about SIUC so much? Man, I do it from time to time but my mind would fry if I thought about this place for too long. LOL

  47. Luckily, a fried brain is no hindrance to blogging; and blogging, in fact, may help cool me down. Plus there's the power and the glory, right?

  48. My personal belief is fair share is crucial for the long term health of SIU. Its no secret there is a toxic relationship and no trust between the IEA locals and the SIU administration. This has caused both sides to become entrenched in their positions, choose sides, and forget we both have the common goal of SIU being successful so our students are sucessful.

    As has been stated earlier, no bargaining unit member is forced to join the unions to get the benefits the union provides. However, this also allows them to not be invested in the process; they have no stake in the game. Fair share changes that. Now, they have something to win or lose so it is in their own self interest to become involved. As more people become involved the administration will know they are truly dealing with the interests of the bargaining units as a whole. And if those interests are not the ones currently being negotiated so be it. We live in a democracy and the majority must rule.

    The unions are not going anywhere. If SIU truly wants to create labor peace on this campus they must get more people involved in the process; fair share will do that.

  49. For the sake of historical evidence and to inform those Cheng supporters who were not around at the time, one of the reasons for voting in a Union was the belief that then President Ted Sanders (who only had K-12 administrative experience) wanting to abolish tenure and firing faculty.

    Cheng has already done the first in her imposed contract and she will use the 30 day lay-off provision in the next year as union negotiations begin. That probably scares a lot of people - in addition to those who have been threatened by the Chairs of their units over joining a union. However, at least those fired will have legal support due to their membership fees while those outside will see their finances eroded if they take this route - a common administrative tactic. If only for self-interest, perhaps those outside should consider joining in view of the imminent lay-offs Cheng is probably planning for the near future.


I will review and post comments as quickly as I can. Comments that are substantive and not vicious will be posted promptly, including critical ones. "Substantive" here means that your comment needs to be more than a simple expression of approval or disapproval. "Vicious" refers to personal attacks, vile rhetoric, and anything else I end up deeming too nasty to post.