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Forum: The Future of Faculty Unions


At a time when unions in general are in decline in the United States, academic unions in particular are under attack, and a large majority of faculty members hold part-time, nontenurable jobs, we asked a group of observers the following question: What is the future of faculty unions? Here's how they responded.

Lennard J. Davis, professor of arts and sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago and member of a faculty group that recently helped organize a union there:

UNIONS are under the gun in many states during this economic downturn. Faculty unions face similar critiques. It might seem as if this is a bad time to form a union, but right now at the University of Illinois at Chicago we have organized and voted on a faculty union, which will be the first unit formed at a major research university in Illinois and one of the first nationwide since the wave of unionization in the 1960s and 70s.

Issues around wages, benefits, and working conditions have been important ones to unions, and will continue to be. Indeed, as administrators seek more and more items to cut, a strong faculty union can keep wages competitive so that a major research university can command the best faculty and keep up its research interests.

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