Friday, August 12, 2011

FORUM: "The Future of Faculty Unions"

Each week, the Chronicle of Higher Education sends me links to its feature stories. This week's email included many individuals active in labor relations "gathering" online to discuss "The Future of Faculty of Unions."

If this passes for a wide-open discussion in academia, God help us. Notice that there are many individuals offering their views but they are all pro-union. If you are pro-union, that is fine and dandy, but you aren't going to learn much. Even if the forum was explicitly, rather than tacitly, pro-union they could have discussed strategies, methods of pressuring administrations that face pressures from other sides, etc.

On my campus, for example, there is talk of a strike which is a classic union "tool." I haven't seen reference to strikes in any higher ed journals that circulate widely. Do you lose health benefits? (No, but you must pay the full premium and that might alert you to how lucky we are to have our health plans so heavily subsidized). Are you eligible for unemployment compensation? Does the union provide an financial assistance? Short of a strike, what else can unions do (other than file complaints)? The list goes on and on. This discuss has begun on a local blog devoted to faculty issues at my university but you have to burrow through the long threads of comments.

Until putatively pro-union writers put their chips on the table, it sure looks like they have nothing to shoot. No wonder administrations don't take these associations seriously.

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