Union?

3/2/2010: We haven’t heard much about the union lately. There are now 4 union organizers on campus, and given that the card check period lasts 3 months, if they are going to try for an election this academic year I would think they would want to start soon.

This editorial from the University of New Hampshire student paper is pretty angry about a threatened faculty strike:

The emerging story in today’s issue revolves around dormant talks between the university administration and the UNH chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). The AAUP even ran an advertisement in today’s paper announcing that the university’s summer term could be in jeopardy if an agreement is not reached.

“The UNH faculty union will boycott the 2010 summer session if a contract settlement with the UNH administration is not reached prior to the final scheduling of courses,” the advertisement writes. “A similar boycott was undertaken in 1997, resulting in a significant reduction in the number of summer courses taught. In addition, some courses that were offered were staffed by under qualified instructors. For that reason, we strongly recommend that students investigate summer course offerings at other institutions well in advance.”

The advertisement reads like an ultimatum. It shows no respect for students. It casually tells them to find another institution if they still want to take summer courses. It tries to say this boycott is OK because it happened once before in 1997.

The only conclusion we can draw from this advertisement is that the AAUP has lost its way. It has veered out of control and forgotten its place. University professors are hired to teach students. That’s it. To fight over mere percentage points with the university about how much of a raise they deserve is childish and, quite frankly, offensive to students who want to use their summer vacation to further their education.    

I’m not sure I like that bit at the end – if UNH is like UO, the problem is that the senior administrators have absolutely no problem taking as much money as they can for themselves. We get more students they hire more administrators – not more faculty. We get paid 85% of PhD granting averages, they get 100%. If they want more they just raise tuition, freeze faculty salaries, and furlough the staff.  For example, the UO President’s budget has gone from $2.0 million in 2008 to $3.3 million this year. The growth in the Provost’s budget is even larger. Then there’s the $600,000 or so for the new “President Emeritus” salary and office.  Many more examples are out there. So is the faculty supposed to roll over?

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