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, February 22, 2014



It is with dismay that we see union advocates on this campus adopting an increasingly personal tone in how they deal with our objections to faculty unionization.

On their Facebook page they are now accusing us of “borrowing language from the extreme right's ‘Right to Work’ campaigns” and taking our ideas “straight out of the Koch Brother's . . . playbook.”

There is no point in responding to such nonsense, and we are not going to reply in kind. We have never made this argument personal. We have never questioned the motives of union advocates. We assume that they care about the campus and are pursuing a strategy that they believe will benefit it – and, of course, we think they are mistaken. We question what they do and what they say, not who they are.

We also accept the CFA as faculty colleagues, in the Senate and elsewhere, who have stood with us and supported us in previous campus disputes, such as the struggle over Global Campus or over the Academy on Capitalism and Limited Government, or the big fight with former President Michael Hogan. We were grateful for their support then, and we remember it – even though they seem to have forgotten.

Nor do we think there is anything to be gained by arguing over progressive credentials or implying that any progressive academic must by definition support the unionization of tenure-track faculty. It is frustrating to be called “anti-union” when you come from a working class, union background, as both of us do. As we say elsewhere in this blog, obviously you can question whether a faculty union is the right model for this campus without being anti-union.

But, the deeper significance of these personal attacks lies in what they reveal about the strategies of union organizers.

Underlying their attacks is an unwillingness to acknowledge that there is strong resistance to forming a union from within the faculty. It is so much easier to attribute opposition to The Administration, or to a cabal of faculty turncoats and puppets of the administration, or to “a small group of anti-union activists” who are acting on behalf of right-wing interests external to the university.

It seems impossible for them to concede that colleagues who are every bit as committed to the rights and interests of faculty as they are have principled and policy-driven reasons for believing a union isn’t the right model to serve those rights and interests.

They boast about the “Distinguished Faculty” who they say support them, but they ignore the more than 150 named professors and other faculty leaders who have signed a statement publicly opposing faculty unionization for our campus.

Instead, they want to frame the union fight always as a struggle between the faculty (whom they, and only they, represent and speak for), and The Administration – not a dispute between two segments of the faculty.

Union advocates don’t see the problem with presuming that their vision of collective bargaining and union activism, which they are convinced is the right one, is the right one for every faculty member and academic unit on this campus.

Instead of name-calling, we continue to invite a wider campus debate on these issues and, if there is to be a campus decision on faculty unionization, to urge that it occur through an open, public, democratic vote in which all affected parties can have a voice in this crucial choice.

***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.***