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From The President: I Want to Be a Member of a Faculty Union Because…

By Cary Nelson

1. The faculty must be organized to advocate for its professional values, principles, and responsibilities, including its support for student rights.

2. The community would benefit from much wider and more organized faculty participation in campus life.

3. A faculty union can forge effective alliances between faculty members and other employee groups on campus and in the community.

4. The teaching profession deserves true faculty representation, where all faculty members—full- and part-time alike—are represented by a body that is obligated to consult fully, to take direction from its constituents, and to report to everyone about all its deliberations, findings, and recommendations.

5. A union composed of dedicated citizen-scholars will guarantee the basic human rights of everyone in the campus community—students, faculty, and staff. Indeed, collective bargaining itself is a human right for all employees.

6. True shared governance requires that the faculty reassert its historical defining role in deciding and carrying out the mission of the university.

7. The faculty must have a central role in guaranteeing and allocating research support, library services, release time, and student fellowships.

8. In tight financial times, the faculty must have more—not less—say over how limited resources are allocated and more power to make certain that teaching and research get adequate funding.

9. The faculty must have primary authority over the curriculum, admission and graduation requirements, and the evaluation of students, long-established principles that continue to be undermined in new ways.

10. The faculty must have a central role in faculty hiring, and it must establish and safeguard the criteria for promotion and tenure.

11. A union contract is the only practical way substantially to improve the working conditions of most contingent faculty members.

12. The campus needs contractual limits on the use of contingent faculty and formal protections against their abuse.

13. Collective bargaining can enable the faculty to regain its role in setting campus priorities.

14. Contract negotiations can establish grievance and appeal procedures that guarantee peer review and enforceable due process for the profession.

15. A union can guarantee the faculty a significant role in appointing senior campus administrators, thereby reversing the long trend toward corporate-style hiring and retention practices.

16. Salary increases and benefits protection need to be a genuine campus priority.

17. The faculty should have the power to negotiate agreements on principles and procedures for distributing salary raises.

18. Shared governance is far more effective if faculty have the capacity and means to negotiate legally binding and enforceable agreements with the administration, not merely disingenuous murmurs of sympathy or expedient promises.

19. A union will fortify the work of faculty governance by becoming a political actor to counterbalance an administration dismissive of the process and products of existing shared governance structures.

20. The faculty should have legal protection against unilateral administration-imposed furloughs, program closures, and reallocations that threaten teaching and research.

21. Reactionary forces across the country are mounting a sustained assault on tenure, shared governance, collective bargaining, and even the right to communicate with colleagues in private. Only coordinated, collective action can resist them.

22. The tried and true two-step of consultation and dismissal, the established way of inviting and then discounting faculty input, demoralizes and disempowers us.

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