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.

Friday, May 16, 2014



We have frequently expressed concern here about the intemperate rhetoric used in public statements by some campus advocates of faculty unionization, a rhetoric that assumes an adversarial division between The Faculty and The Administration. Repeatedly, university leadership is portrayed as a clueless, insensitive, untrustworthy entity that cannot understand, much less support, the rights of faculty. Hence faculty need a union that will “fight” the evil administrators to protect them; an independent voice” to protest their inevitable ill-treatment at the hands of the bosses.

There is always a need to question and to hold leaders accountable – and no one knows this better than we do. But this dichotomous Us/Them picture of the university is inaccurate and unfair. Even more than that, it is self-perpetuating: it actually creates a hostile, suspicious campus climate, by encouraging knee-jerk reactions based on the assumption that the motives of administrators are base and self-serving, and those of their faculty critics pure and selfless.

How anyone could claim that this attitude is compatible with “shared governance” is a mystery. You can’t share responsibility with people you fundamentally despise and mistrust – and you can’t expect people you speak about that way to be willing to share responsibility with you.

The latest example of this tendency is the CFAs all-out, ad hominem assault on the arrogant, ignorant, narrow-minded, authoritarian chairman of our Board of Trustees, Mr. Christopher Kennedy,” including a declaration in the CFA spinoff blog “Learning and Labor” that he is Unfit for Office.”

And just in case that is too subtle, this slander is reinforced by a cartoonish CFA-authored caricature of a monster who doesn’t care about “shared governance, due process, or academic freedom.” (None of which Kennedy ever said.)

It is entirely legitimate to correct misstatements and to challenge positions that one finds objectionable. But the venomous hatred expressed in these portrayals suggests something more than simply a desire to correct misstatements, representing them not as mistakes to be corrected but as evidence of a fundamental ignorance about the university and of hostility toward faculty (especially non-tenure-track faculty), which no one who has actually interacted with Chris Kennedy could ever imagine to be true.

Apparently, it is easy to forget that it was this same Chris Kennedy who recently pointed out the dire circumstances of many non-tenure-track faculty and the need to remedy them. No recognition is given of any achievements of the current Board, and its Chair, nor of its laudable overall record (especially compared with some predecessors) for integrity and aggressive advocacy for the university.

There is always room for fair criticism and disagreement. But when you look at the tone and hostility in this latest round of CFA comments, you have to wonder what a campus would look like in which these people were the main spokespeople and representatives of the faculty in regularly dealing with the administration.

CFA representatives keep saying they don’t desire or expect that unionization would create an adversarial relationship between faculty and administrators. And they keep proving that untrue.

***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.***