God Bless the Janitors

3/28/2013: A column by Wicke Sloane, in Insidehighered, on the SEIU staff union’s research reports on conflicts of interest and administrative bloat at public universities:

I commend the 5,000 higher education workers of the Massachusetts Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Local 615. These men and women, led by Massachusetts SEIU Higher Education Director Wayne Langley, commissioned four of the most trenchant, clear reports on the foibles of higher education finance since The Jungle muckracker Upton Sinclair self-published The Goose-Step: A Study of American Higher Education in 1922. 

These articulate, footnote-laden documents investigate questions that must, but may never, top the public agenda of any discussions of college access for years to come.
While the reports ask familiar questions, my thrill is that these powerful questions come from a new voice, an influential union, outside the higher education policy circles -– the 2.1 million voter, I mean, member, SEIU.

I spent Wednesday visiting our state legislators – including Phil Barnhart and Lee Byers, in an event organized by SEIU, AFT, AAUP, and OSA. The UO administration and the UO boosters obviously have a lot of influence in Salem, but these groups are also very organized and well funded.

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