Future, Present, Past: Collective Bargaining in Higher Education


The seventh volume of JCBA, more than previous volumes, reminds us of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol in that it focuses in turn on the past, present and future. This volume, however, does so in reverse order as laid out: the opinion pieces construct a future, the articles discuss our present, and the practitioner pieces look into the past, both recent and since faculty public-sector unionization.

Gary Rhoades’s “What are we bargaining for? Public Interest Bargaining” identifies and projects a world of faculty negotiations where more is involved in public sector (especially) faculty-management negotiations than the single interests of those two bodies: Rhoades posits a world where the interest of students and community are involved, too.

If Rhoades’s piece takes us into a whole new world, Nicholas DiGiovanni’s “The New Focus of Academic Organizing: Private Institutions Now Face Academic Collective Bargaining” takes us to where the next National Labor Relations Board ruling(s) might take us. With a series of recent rulings (especially Pacific Lutheran) and a host of potential ones, the rules for organizing in various sectors in the academy could change any day now, in very concrete ways.

Rhoades and DiGiovanni look to the future, but our first article looks at the current state of salaries among faculties. Charles S. Wassell Jr, David W. Hedrick, Steven E. Henson and John M. Krieg’s “Wage Distribution Impacts of Higher Education Faculty Unionization” provides a study of how faculty unionization may flatten wages across disciplines – an effect of unionization and collective bargaining agreements that may be unintended.

Where Wassell et al take us into the present numbers, Margaret E. Winters’s “Part-Time Faculty: Semantics and the Meaning of Contingent Teaching” takes us into the words used in academia. By focusing on the way the academy talks about part-time/adjunct/contingent faculty, Winters shows how naming tells about the perception of this new majority of the faculty at our universities.

Moving to the past, we are instructed by Mark Chaykin in his “An analytical review of higher education unionism over the last 40 plus years as a union staff person” about the changes over the past two generations after public collective bargaining began. As almost a twin piece to DiGiovanni’s opinion piece, Chaykin reviews the major cases that changed the academic labor landscape over his career.

Finally, in what is a piece almost as chilling as Dickens’s Christmas future, Robin Meade chronicles her own struggle as a contingent faculty member and union leader in “Collective Bargaining Leadership - An Adjunct Perspective.” We hope all our readers learn from the experiences here and see, too, a connection with the Dickens tale; none of us should soon forget the human side of our endeavor.

We think this volume delves into the many layers of the current state of academic collective bargaining, sending us, like Dickens’s ghosts, messages to ponder. We hope you do so, and we hope you find the PDF download and the new map at the bottom of the home page showing the location of people who have recently downloaded articles. Even in the present, as we recount the past, we attempt to use the technology of the future.





Wage Distribution Impacts of Higher Education Faculty Unionization
Charles S. Wassell Jr, David W. Hedrick, Steven E. Henson, and John M. Krieg

Practitioner Perspectives