Professors of the World, Unite?

The recent bill granting the faculty of the University of Wisconsin the right to unionize attracted the attention of the op-ed page of the Wall Street Journal:

Professors of the World, Unite?

We are posting the link here not because the editors of this forum take sides (yet) on whether faculty should unionize but rather to promote awareness of the issue and to invite comment, both pro and con, from readers.  In particular, comment is invited on (a) whether the op-ed piece is factually accurate, and (b) whether unionization is desirable for UW-Madison faculty.

– the Editors

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4 Responses to Professors of the World, Unite?

  1. Joe says:

    Accuracy? On what planet is there real ‘merit’ pay on this campus? Survey salaries within and across units and we’re divided basically into people who’ve driven up their salaries with outside offers and those who haven’t. I’ve talked to people all over campus about this and hear the same and I think that’s the view from the compensation committee.

    We need real open discussion this topic but it does need to be more accurate than the WSJ’s coverage.

  2. PG says:

    Joe’s comment reminds me of an article posted quite a while ago in this forum: The Toxic Two Percent

    The irony, of course, is that even the two percent per year got revoked and we got mandatory furloughs instead. Thus, “merit raises” are even deader now as a motivational concept than they were when that article was written.

  3. Professor John says:

    What must be considered is whether the State would ever bargain in good faith. For some idea, take a look at some of the other unionized groups in the state, e.g., the State Engineering Association. In their recent “negotiations”, the State of Wisconsin demanded that the union give up a previously item with the State giving nothing in return. They demanded that the employees sign an MOU for furloughs and when they questioned one sentence in the document, the State withdrew the compromise. Now the State has scheduled temporary layoffs of 9 days per member in contrast to the 8 days of furlough everyone else is getting. The State has no intention of negotiating in good faith and they lie at that. They told the Union that any money put into the budget for that biennium for raises disappears by the end of the biennium..i.e., sign or else! With no right to strike, the Union is a sham!

    The University is certainly better off with faculty governance…We tell the State what it will take for us to do a quality job, and they do not try to micromanage us, as long as we deliver. The faculty is capable of finding plenty of avenues to support salaries beyond the State contribution, and it would be a shame to let dishonest politicians get a hold of our sovereignty.

  4. John Cowan says:

    Let’s call this by its true name: red-baiting. The implication of the headline is that unions are a Communist movement. Indeed, not one person is quoted as being in favor of unionization, though several people and organizations are mentioned as either against it or against one feature of the new law.

    What’s more, the claim about “prestigious public university campuses” is false. My almost-alma-mater, the City College of New York, has been unionized for 45 years, coexisting with faculty governance. (My mother taught there, too, so I saw more of it than the typical student would.)

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