Mission Statement

The purpose of this blog is to deconstruct the rhetoric and strategies of faculty union advocates at the University of Illinois. A consequential decision like this must be based on facts, not spin. Right now only one side of the argument is being presented to faculty. This blog represents the other side of the argument.

Saturday, November 9, 2013



Rule #1 in trying to build a sense of unity and common purpose among a diverse constituency is to find a common enemy. Faculty union advocates have identified their antagonists: Evil Administrators who don’t care about the faculty and staff, who accrue huge salaries to themselves and have no clue about the best interests of the institution.
This caricature is easy to construct because most faculty don’t have regular contact with the campus administration and even less so with university administration. Elected faculty leaders do. And as two people who have worked with a number of Provosts, Chancellors, and Presidents over the years, we can tell you that this caricature could not be more misleading and unfair. In fact, the current campus and university administrations are more committed to shared governance, transparency, and respecting faculty input than any we have dealt with.
One example is Chancellor Wise’s “Visioning Excellence” exercise. She met with 3000 faculty and staff in multiple meetings to generate campus development priorities in a participatory, bottom-up way. The campus goals grew directly out of those conversations, and they have broad campus-wide support.
Have there been any top-down, non-consultative initiatives in recent years? Yes, and there has been direct and effective pushback from the Senates and Senates Conference in challenging, resisting, and modifying them. Shared governance is not perfect, but in broad outlines it has been self-correcting over time. And a commitment to shared governance is not just lip-service from our campus and university administrators: they know they can’t be effective leaders without demonstrating that commitment.
But you wouldn’t know that from listening to advocates for a faculty union. For them administrators are heartless Scrooges, sitting on piles of money they refuse to share with the masses, hoarding it rather than spending it for good purposes -- duplicitous, avaricious, and foolishly out of touch:

We have been asked to remove this cartoon from our web site. To view it, go to: http://cfaillinois.org/2013/03/24/1437/
We will deal in a separate post with the complete fabrication that there is a “billion dollar surplus.” But it is a crude caricature to depict comfortable, clueless and arrogant administrators, sitting in their safe warm offices, while the suffering masses stand outside in the freezing rain. Obviously, we believe all employees should be treated with fairness and respect, and it is certainly possible to have different positions on budget priorities and what constitutes a fair wage.

But the tactic used here is unfair: ridiculing faceless administrators and implying that they feel no concern for others. There is no appreciation here for the responsibility administrators have for the fiscal health and sustainability of the institution during a time of unreliable state and federal funding. This picture offers the comforting fantasy that there is lots of money, plenty for everyone, and no tough decisions need to be made.

That fantasy is the luxury of people who don’t know the facts, who don’t have the burden of responsibility, and who don’t have to worry about juggling multiple budget priorities all at the same time. 

*** This blog is a jointly authored project by two people who believe that the campaign for tenure-track faculty unionization has damaged morale and divided our campus, and that a faculty union, if ever established, would erode academic quality and undermine our highly successful system of campus shared governance, which has earned nationwide praise.

We speak for ourselves. We have no organization behind us, we don’t ask for funding, we don’t pay national hired guns to come in and make the case for us.

We want to start a different campus conversation about faculty unionization, which we believe will be more thoughtful and substantive when people have all the facts. 

We welcome and will consider postings from others expressing issues and concerns about faculty unionization. We know that many faculty are very upset about the possibility of working on a unionized campus. 

If you see any information here that is inaccurate, please tell us and we will correct it.

If you share our concerns and want to help, please forward these postings to your friends and colleagues, and urge them to do the same. ***