I'm going rogue on the FSN and letting Blogger Dave out of the box for a moment (though he's snuck through in comments below). I do so because the FSN message sent yesterday may seem to meet the objections I raised to the FSN earlier (so I feel it's pretty imperative to comment) and because the FA is too busy with other things right now to make the FSN an official priority or produce an official response.
The FSN white paper presents what many will find an attractive vision for shared governance on campus. But what is utterly lacking, still, is any practicable means for achieving this end, their vision of shared governance. And the faculty committee they are calling for us to vote for seems to me to be chimerical.
1. The FSN isn't proposing a union to replace the FA, but a beefed-up faculty senate. There is no allowance for dues, collective bargaining, contracts, or--heaven forfend--strike authority in their proposal. They aren't, in short, suggesting that we switch unions but that we no longer have one.
2. I'm not a lawyer. But unless I am mistaken, the IELRB is the governing Board for Illinois Educational Labor Relations in the technical sense--union-management relations at educational institutions. If you don't have a union, you don't need to follow their rules, I don't think. You don't qualify as an "exclusive bargaining agent". But neither do you have the legal rights the law affords labor unions. The JRB doesn't automatically gain the right to binding arbitration which the FSN says it would have--because the right to binding arbitration in grievances is protected by the IELRA, the Illinois Education Labor Relations Act--where "labor relations" again means "relations between unions and employers". The administration could, if it so chose, give this power to the JRB, I suppose. Good luck with that. Similarly, the administration could, if it so choose, voluntarily enter into discussions with the faculty senate which would produce memorandums that limited its powers to shut down programs or fire faculty. Again, good luck with that.
3. Thus the FSN proposal doesn't pass what I will honestly characterize as an amateur sniff test if evaluated as a proposal to switch bargaining agents. Neither does it pass muster as a legitimate effort to improving shared governance. For the FSN has not engaged in any formal or informal conversations with the faculty senate about their proposal to radically change the faculty senate. In large part this is because of fears of collusion with those with AP and managerial appointments on the FS. This shows once again the problem with the FSN proposal: they are trying to present the faculty with an autonomous faculty bargaining agent when in fact their proposal requires administrative cooperation. There is a good reason, in other words, that the FSN and FS are tied up in legalistic knots to such an extent that they can't even meet. Illinois law requires exclusive bargaining agents to be truly autonomous groups representing workers, not management. This simply not possible for the faculty senate. Hence the FSN can't even get meetings with the FS started, much less work out an plan for how to get from where we are to the happy place they want to be.
4. Thus the FSN plan is neither fish nor fowl: it is neither a legitimate effort to produce an alternative exclusive bargaining agent for the FA, nor is it a bona fide effort to improve shared governance on campus. What it amounts to, then, is a way to provide a positive cover for their attack on the FA--a seemingly positive proposal whose only effective function will be negative, to destroy the FA. If you doubt my legalistic reasoning above, you need only consider the rush to get this petition done this week, of all weeks--likely the most important in the history of the FA.
Let me repeat what I have said before--and said for long before the FSN came into existence. I (Blogger Dave) can well understand principled reasons why some faculty would prefer to work at a campus without a union. And I can also understand that some faculty have honest and principled beefs with how the FA has represented them, and would like the FA to change tactics, or even want to see a wholesale change in its leadership. I could also understand faculty wanting not to be associated with the IEA but with some other union organization. In short, there are open and honest ways of attacking the FA. Whatever its proposers may believe, and whatever their true intentions may be, the FSN proposal is not, in my view, an intellectually honest way of attacking the FA. I cannot see how this effort to persuade faculty to vote for a chimerical faculty senate committee, a fantastic concoction imagined to have all the powers of a union and all the comity of traditional shared governance, but with none of the weaknesses of either approach, can be a principled way of pursuing any legitimate goal. It is, in my view, fundamentally dishonest to suggest that we can have something we cannot have.