I think this may well be the most amazing sentence I have read all year: “At most private colleges, as well as at public colleges where faculty members have chosen not to form unions or have been precluded from doing so by state law, many faculty members work without union contracts without feeling particularly exploited.” It”s by Peter Schmidt, in a piece appropriately titled, “What Good do Faculty Unions Do“?
Schmidt’ focus on pay risks reinforcing the myth that public employees unions are greedy and over-privileged. Most universities– like most corporations– don’t have unions, and if they do, they fight them at every turn. Exploitation has become routine in too many schools. I have a better question: what would universities be like without union influence? Would tenure even exist anymore?
The current picture isn’t pretty. Many if not most faculty are either non-tenure track or part-time adjuncts. (Here’s a piece on the subject from a few years ago.) Administrations line their pockets and have no interest in economic justice within their own walls. We could all be better organized, but it’s hardly the unions’ fault that the overall trend in the economy is towards lower pay and less power.