UW gains right to unionize, but questions linger

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A major accomplishment of the state budget was a provision that allows UW faculty and staff to unionize.

However, some staff members are already raising questions about getting forced into unions they don’t want to be part of:

Several unions say they plan to petition a state agency to bring some 4,000 to 5,000 academic staff into their folds; whether they want to or not.

Some academic staff — employees like librarians, advisers, financial aid officers, researchers and many others — say they should have a voice on whether to join a union, a concern shared by the System.

“This is not the right they fought for,” said David Giroux, spokesman for the System. “Already we’ve begun hearing from academic staff members who are really concerned.”

It’s important that university faculty and staff have the right to collective bargaining. Especially in light of neglect from the state legislature in recent years, faculty can counter the brain-drain syndrome in Wisconsin if its interests are expressed through an unfiltered voice of the university. Until recently it has usually been the administration appealing to the government for more funding for professor salaries and research. A faculty and staff union could more effectively put a face on what Wisconsin is in danger of losing.

However, that won’t be as effective if UW employees don’t have their own union – that focuses specifically on the interests of UW faculty and staff. This could be a great opportunity for professors to have a voice at the table with administration and lawmakers when determining policy for state higher education.

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2 Responses to “UW gains right to unionize, but questions linger”

  1. Irish Frog Says:

    I agree with you, while the University needs a stronger voice in budge negotiations, it would be best for staff and faculty to have their own union. Why not have the (very unfortunately named) Academic Staff Public Representation Organization (Aspro) group represent those at the U? It already exists, has a constitution and a representative system set up.

    http://www.aspro.net/
    http://kb.wisc.edu/vip/page.php?id=9405

  2. Sam Clegg Says:

    This union should also not be able to gain the same coercive powers as, for example the TAA, which limits the number of students that can take a particular discussion section, therefore forcing many students to get their degrees in 4.5 – 5 years. Economics courses are a pertinent example. And while the argument that this is indicative of a larger systemic flaw may be true, that does nothing to detract from the essential premise of the TAA’s efforts in this area: students get screwed because incompetent TA’s many of whom are not proficient in English, cannot handle larger class sizes without their evaluations being largely negative. The UW faculty should have the right to collective bargaining, but students should be aware of (and make arguments against, perhaps?) the hidden tax on their tuition from this earlier unionization.

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