Challenges in Context: Borrowed Money, Borrowed Time


As 2013 concludes, the fifth issue of JCBA again reflects the on-going struggle in collective bargaining in the academy. Although we had hopes of a slightly different issue (more on this later), the current edition contains a range of issues, analyses, and opinions that show us that, indeed, collective bargaining is a field worthy of much study—a feast for the reader.

As those familiar with JCBA know, the journal publishes in three categories: editorials, scholarly articles, and practitioner pieces. Volume 5 again includes, to use the metaphor du season, tasty morsels from each category.

In the editorial category, we have the substantial treat of a piece from Richard Boris, the recently retired executive director of the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in the Academy and Professions (the JCBA’s sponsoring organization). Given Dr. Boris’s ethos in the collective bargaining in the academy, his words on the way forward carry weight far beyond its appetizer status in this volume.

Following a national search, Bill Herbert was recently named executive director of the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in the Academy and Professions this month, and he offers his perspectives going forward in a second op-ed piece.

Boris’s and Herbert’s aperitifs are followed by a pair of meatier articles that show the difficulty of cooperation on even common ground. Gary Aguiar’s “Collective Begging at Its Best: Labor-Management Relations in South Dakota” shows one case where faculty-management negotiations are full of tension—as indicated by the imposed contract in the proceedings—and how one side maneuvered to reach their goals under those conditions.

Likewise, the situation in 2012 at Central Michigan University, ending in the first strike in the history of one of the oldest faculty bargaining units in the country, was contentious, too. Vince Cavataio and Robert Hinck’s “Organizational Culture, Knowledge Structures, and Relational Messages in Organizational Negotiation: A Systems Approach” uses communications theories to analyze how the two sides ended up in open conflict. Indeed, it is heavy fare, the longest article we have published in some time.

Finally, we conclude with a pair of practitioner pieces that we hope are lighter (if only because shorter) fare. They each are co-authored by the editors, who were in negotiations simultaneously in 2011, and who now share a piece of their experience. Jonathan Blitz and Jeffrey Cross’s article shows how negotiations in 2006 at Eastern Illinois led to market-based adjustments by discipline to faculty pay; as always, the devil is in the recipe, and Cross and Blitz show us how that is done. Then Steve Hicks and Amy Rosenberger lay out how the Pennsylvania state system faculty (APSCUF) negotiated on a topic near and dear to faculty—curriculum and class size—when it was not a mandatory subject of bargaining. Over two years the faculty proposal (shown in the piece) changed significantly, showing the evolution that can be made to take a proposal from concept to contract.

This is a time of considerable turmoil in collective bargaining, and faculty bargaining is no different. We hoped to publish a retrospective article from Richard Boris, laying out the history of faculty collective bargaining in his tenure at the National Center, and that will serve as the main course in next year’s menu. We also hoped to have an article delineating the cases before the National Labor Review Board, but, as readers are aware, the results of cases involving Duquesne and Point Park faculty, to name two, have not been announced. That, too, should be a major part of next year’s menu.

Doubtless, with all that is on our plate, we will have another full issue next time. For the time being, enjoy the intellectual fare here.




Practitioner Perspectives