Campus administrators and union leaders are well aware of the numerous problems created by multiple years of funding shortfalls. But the general membership of a campus union, going about its business of teaching, researching, serving the community and happily collecting a paycheck every two weeks, may not be aware of the great effort needed to help the campus thrive and to negotiate agreements beneficial to them and to the campus. Overcoming its members’ ignorance of higher education economics and bargaining is only part of the problem for the union. The other part is to convince a diverse membership, each with its own opinions, that the negotiated agreements are the best that can be written at the time.

Getting union members to ratify an agreement that does not contain everything they think they deserve requires: 1) preparation, including a candid analysis of current campus conditions; 2) the exercise of group leadership practices to involve members in the negotiations process; and 3) the adoption of open democratic processes leading to consensus.