Facing New Realities in Higher Education and the Professions


Volume 10 of the Journal of Collective Bargaining in the Academy (JCBA) continues the journal’s practice of including a variety of scholarly articles, opinion pieces, and practitioner perspectives (notes from the field). As is true of the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions that gave rise to this journal, we seek to present views of labor and of management, based on the conviction that the academy can benefit from the structure, mechanisms, and practices of various aspects of collective bargaining, from organizing new bargaining units to negotiating contracts to implementing those contracts. Our aim is to address timely and enduring issues of significance for collective bargaining in the academy.

The past year saw a fundamental change in the law affecting public sector unions’ collection of dues and fees (including public university faculty and academic unions), in what most would regard as a direct challenge to the strength of public sector unions. For a perspective on how faculty collective bargaining can thrive in a “right-to-work” state, readers might refer to Thomas Auxter’s JCBA piece in 2016, "Organizing Faculty Unions in a Right-to-Work Environment." It is safe to say that despite the recent Janus decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, collective bargaining and new organizing have continued and may even take new forms and energy among public and private academic employees, including contingent faculty, tenure stream faculty, professionals, graduate assistants, and postdoctoral employees.

Turning now to the contributions in Volume 10 of JCBA, Title IX and higher education has been very much in the news this past year, and Jim Castagnera opines on how collective bargaining can relate to allegations of sexual harassment. John Lavin provides a collective bargaining viewpoint from a historical perspective and from a “higher authority” in general and how it relates to the academic environment.

Faculty salary compression is an ongoing problem in the academy, and hence, potentially a bargaining issue. Brent Graves and Dale Kapla describe how the problem was effectively addressed through negotiations at Northern Michigan University. For another approach to this problem achieved through bargaining also see Blitz, Jonathan P. and Cross, Jeffrey F. (2013) "Bargaining Market Equity Adjustments by Rank and Discipline." Both frame collective bargaining as a mechanism for problem solving. Organizing among adjunct and full-time, non-tenure-track faculty has continued to be prominent nationally. Jameson Ramirez is a former adjunct faculty member and currently is a Service Employee International Union researcher. His article provides inside information and a back-story analysis about adjunct faculty organizing and bargaining in the Saint Louis, Missouri metropolitan region.

Finally, we include two perspectives on the negotiations that occur in bargaining, not across the table, but on the same side of the table. John Allison and Jonathan Blitz provide observations from their years of experience negotiating faculty contracts from a union perspective. In a companion piece, Margaret Winters offers an experienced view of how negotiations “work” on the administration side of the table. The authors of these companion pieces provide perspectives from their several years of successful academic bargaining respectively.

We hope you enjoy and benefit from this issue. And we welcome our readers’ comments, and encourage you to consider contributing manuscripts to the advancement of the scholarship on and practice of collective bargaining in the academy.




Practitioner Perspectives


Notes on the Same Side
Margaret E. Winters