Union no guarantee for UI faculty respect
Robert McChesney speculates that a faculty union, "by merely existing ... will force" administrators into respecting faculty input. Like many faculty union supporters, he promises that a union will strengthen the faculty voice, without offering any evidence for this broad claim. He also ignores entirely the fact that we already have an elected body that speaks for the entire campus faculty: the academic senate.
His term "force" assumes a reluctant administration. But anyone watching recent faculty-administration interactions on this campus knows we do not need union representation to give the faculty real influence over campus policy. Campus faculty, working through the senate, have a documented record of strong influence over virtually every area of campus decision-making, and indeed of initiating many significant changes to campus policies.
The current campus administration doesn't need a union to "force" it into respecting faculty input; they welcome it. Recent experience shows that administrators who ignore Urbana faculty input have not fared well.
But McChesney also neglects to mention that a union speaks only for its dues-paying members. Faculty who do not join the union have no influence over its leadership, its public positions or its strategies and priorities in collective bargaining. The senate, in contrast, includes tenured and nontenured faculty from every part of campus, academic professionals and students. It does not set the interests of one group against another, and it does not adopt an adversarial, suspicious stance toward "the administration."
A union actually makes faculty governance less democratic and less representative.