Some Impacts on Faculty: 50+ Years of Academic Collective Bargaining and Counting


For more than 50 years, collective bargaining of academic employees on college and university campuses has entailed negotiations about bread and butter, quality, and broader social issues, impacting terms and conditions of academic employment and the trajectory of higher education institutions. Today, faculty and other academic employees in higher education institutions are unionized in 31 states and the District of Columbia. In this volume thoughtful scholars, practitioners, and observers chronicle and advance inquiry and practice in academic collective bargaining.

The volatility of academic collective bargaining in recent years is embodied in the changing landscape surrounding the organizing of graduate student employees in private universities. It’s embodied as well in the recent proposed rule change offered by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), in regard to graduate assistants’ statutory bargaining rights under the National Labor Relations Act. William Herbert and Joseph van der Naald detail comments submitted by the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in the Academy and the Professions pertaining to NLRB proposed rulemaking seeking to deny and bar graduate student employee collective bargaining under the NLRA.

Volume 11 also includes three empirical studies of the iterative process and impacts of faculty collective bargaining. Each is a case study of important and complex issues confronting academic employees and institutions. Rodrigo Dominguez-Villegas, Laurel Smith-Doerr, Henry Renski, and Laras Sekarashih present a comprehensive longitudinal study of gender pay equity in academe negotiated over a series of contracts at one public research university. Stephen Jacquemin, Christine Junker, and Mark Cubberley empirically explore the too-little-studied effects and process of a relatively prolonged faculty strike at a Mid-Western University and its multiple campuses in relation to college student academic achievement. Leah Akins and Laura Murphy address a negotiated process of bargaining peer-based evaluations and student surveys at a community college during contract negotiations that included an administrative proposal for more emphasis on student evaluations of teaching.

Two additional articles take on key questions in national and international perspectives. Louis Shedd, Stephen Katsinas, and Nathaniel Bray use a new mission-driven classification system to categorize 1,522 public academic institutions and the presence of a collective bargaining agreement to address questions pertaining to funds available for compensation and whether there are differences among community colleges, regional universities, and flagship universities. And Barry Miller provides a comparative perspective from Canada on normative collaborative faculty contract negotiations that proved to be successful. Such “social unionism” issues are increasingly important to new generations of academic employees and in a context in which the public benefits of higher education are increasingly being questioned.

From the practitioners’ perspective of those engaged in academic collective bargaining, Jennifer Eagan describes California Faculty Association priorities that extend beyond wages, hours, and working conditions to center issues of social justice. As a long-time contingent faculty member, Deirdre Frontczak examines the too-long accepted adverse impacts of increased part-time and adjunct faculty hiring practices on the academic freedom of the majority of the academic workforce.

Two commentaries bring us back to the issue of the impacts of collective bargaining and the volatility of collective bargaining rights. Daniel Julius comments on the history and trajectory of the study of faculty collective bargaining and highlights the need to re-invigorate scholarship in this field of practice. James Castagnera offers observations on recent faculty collective bargaining at private colleges and universities bucking a trend of stagnation since the 1980 Yeshiva Supreme Court decision.

We entrust this volume to the scholars/practitioners in the field of academic collective bargaining, extend sincere thanks to the contributing authors and peer-reviewers, and hope that their thinking informs, enlightens, and enhances the practice of collective bargaining in the academy.





Labor Unions and Equal Pay for Faculty: A Longitudinal Study of Gender Pay Gaps in a Unionized Institutional Context
Rodrigo Dominguez-Villegas, Laurel Smith-Doerr, Henry Renski, and Laras Sekarasih

Practitioner Perspectives