I just sent out a note on the Association of Internet Researchers list advertising our new faculty positions at Quinnipiac. I was a bit surprised to find, in Google Mail, a contextual ad linking to Shame on Quinnipiac. (I wonder, by the way, if use of the typeface is a trademark violation in this case.)
Why shame? Because the president had the faculty union decertified about the time I went for a campus interview. I was told by every person I interviewed that this was effectively a non-issue. They said that some of the faculty were a bit miffed at the way the president went about it, but most were not fans of the union, which they said really didn’t do anything of substance on the campus. The university has raised salaries in the wake of the changes, critics say in order to “buy off” the faculty. But it strikes me that the union was collecting dues without providing much in the way of collective bargaining. The faculty senate now has more control, and every faculty member I’ve talked to is happy about the change.
Clearly one group that is unhappy about the change is the librarians. Tenure will no longer be granted for librarians, though those who have tenure will, naturally, have it honored. Some see this as an omen of other changes to come.
But I think Quinnipiac is in the position of trying to attract excellent faculty in order to grow in terms of reputation and ranking. Yes, you may say, but every university is doing that. Well, every university says they are doing that, but I’ve been impressed by the ways in which Quinnipiac appears to be following through on that claim. As a result, it is to their benefit to create a good environment for faculty, both in terms of pay and benefits, and the broader conditions of employment. Naturally, unions are in less need in good times than they are in bad, but for now, it doesn’t feel like they are much missed.
The Shame on Quinnipiac site is registered to the Association of Federated Teachers, though they do not sign the site in any way. I find that to be misleading. If they want to organize, more power to them. An organizer stopped by my office and admitted that he was hitting a lot of resistance on the campus, but they are welcome to have a voice. But they should be clear about who they are when they establish a site that aims to bring shame on the university.
I’m fairly ambivalent about the union. I came from a unionized campus, and they did some good things, particularly for part-time faculty. But in the end, it seemed like faculty that were not part of the campus were far more upset about the decertification than the Quinnipiac faculty was.