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.

Thursday, December 19, 2013



The CFA draws our attention to an interesting archival document, a 1976 recruitment pamphlet from the Union of Professional Employees (UPE), the precursor of the CFA, making the case for faculty unionization:


While the CFA wants us to focus on what they call the “cool” Billy Morrow Jackson cover graphic (actually, we think it’s a little creepy), for us the real interest lies in the text of the pamphlet. Much of the rhetoric, even the specific arguments, are exactly the same as those being offered today: 

During the past few years the academic staff at the University of Illinois has seen its ranks diminished, the size of classes and workloads increased, and its purchasing power seriously eroded. During this same period the library has cut back its purchases, laboratories have had difficulty replacing worn-out equipment, and essential support services have been reduced. While this University may have suffered more than others, these events are not unique to this campus or to universities in this state. Rather, they represent a nation-wide threat to higher education generally. 

Is it possible that thirty-five years ago this campus was so dysfunctional and decrepit that only a union could save it? How did we possibly survive – indeed, thrive  – without a union for all that time? 

Or is it more likely that faculty union advocates have been declaring a crisis for decades, and up to the present day, to scare colleagues into supporting their unionization drive? 

In fact, during this period Illinois has become one of the great universities in the world. Without a union. 

The 1976 pamphlet also shows how fungible the argument for a faculty union can be. Today we hear about concerns over gender equity and student diversity (unions will solve those problems too) or the corporatization of the university, or MOOC's – whatever the hot button issues of the moment are. And whatever the issues, faculty unions are the solution, today as in 1976. 

Or is it more likely that establishing a faculty union has become an objective in and for itself, an aim that simply attaches itself to myriad arguments, without regard for consistency or accuracy, whatever the context might be? 

*** 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. ***