Creating Solutions in Challenging Times
Volume 9 continues the trend of the last few issues by including an eclectic group of articles. This year, though, we really emphasize the academic labor movement’s history and its current pressing issue: adjunct faculty.
The opening opinion piece is from a veteran of several previous articles in JCBA, Daniel Julius (see Volumes 3 and 4). In “The Slippery Slope of ‘Unique’,” Julius counters the commonly held notion among academics that their collective bargaining is essentially different from other bargaining units. Using the recent NLRB Yale University ruling as a jumping off point, Julius demonstrates how those of us in academic collective bargaining can learn and pick up processes from our colleagues in other professions, as Yale did using the idea of micro-units.
On the other hand, our second op-ed, from Henry (Hank) Reichman, currently first vice president at AAUP, titled “Anti-Intellectualism, Corporatization, and the University,” goes into issues singular to the academy. Reichman touches not only on our culture’s anti-intellectualism, but connects it to the oft-mentioned business model that many have proposed for higher education. He finishes with some discussion of the process for having this debate as the academy moves forward in the 21st century.
Moving to the research articles, we are proud to again publish the work of William Herbert, the Executive Director of our sponsor, the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions. Last year JCBA published Herbert’s catalogue of the new bargaining unit contracts from the early part of 2016, “The Winds of Change Shift”; this year Herbert delves into the history of academic collective bargaining, taking readers to the 1940s—which was well before the lore has academic collective bargaining beginning in this country. Herbert’s article, “The History Books Tell It? Collective Bargaining in the Academy in the 1940s,” reminds us of the work of the now-defunct United Public Workers of America (UPWA) and those early forays into organizing faculty and staff, as well as the power of external politics upon bargaining agents.
Herbert’s work lays the groundwork for the next articles. In “Contracts with Community College Adjunct Faculty Members and Potential Supplemental Benefits to Increase Satisfaction,” Kimberly Page from the University Rhode Island does an analysis of benefits that could be provided to adjuncts. Using data from New England community colleges, Page surveys multiple ways CBAs might help adjuncts to have more job satisfaction through various shifts in conditions.
Page’s work blends well into the work of Karen Cross from John Marshall Law School. In “Unionization and the Development of Policies for Non-Tenure Track Faculty: A Comparative Study of Research Universities,” Cross provides another cross-sectional analysis of adjunct contracts, this time covering a sample of research universities from across the nation, including those with and without CBAs that include adjunct faculty.
A better capstone article for this range of study would be hard to imagine than the practitioner retrospective by a 50-year veteran in academic labor relations—William Connellan, most recently of the University of Florida. Connellan’s article, “Accidental Academic,” reminds us of the complexity of bargaining, with not only the internal tensions, but the external dimension to what happens at the bargaining table.
With this issue, we see the end of Steve Hicks’s term as co-editor of JCBA. Hicks has served in this capacity since Volume 3 most ably providing an English professor’s unionist editorial perspective. He will be succeeded by someone well-known to our readers, Gary Rhoades, author of Managed Professionals (1998) and (with Sheila Slaughter) Academic Capitalism and the New Economy (2004), former General Secretary of AAUP, and Director of the Center for the Study of Higher Education at the University of Arizona. Jeff Cross will continue as co-editor.
With Volume 9, JCBA continues its history of publishing pieces that ask and answer the questions of collective bargaining in the academy and we look forward to our 10th volume and the multiple issues it doubtless will address.