A post by FunkDoctorX the other day got me started thinking about some problems with academic jobs, something I've been thinking about a lot anyway. I just want to point out three states, and their bills:
Wisconsin: passed a bill eliminating collective bargaining rights for everything except salaries, and prohibits striking.
Ohio: Senate Bill 5 eliminating collective bargaining for benefits, and prohibits striking
Massachussetts: The state house of representatives passed a bill eliminating collective bargaining rights on health care.
Wait What? Massachussetts? That tiny state with gay marriage and state mandated health care? That great bastion of blue?
I got interested in this issue when I first heard coverage of the Wisconsin bill that mentioned that University of Wisconsin could no longer form unions.
Let me just present a case study as to why I think this is important, with the standard caveat that anecdote is not the singular of data.
I went to a non-unionized university. My partner's had a union.
I did not have dental insurance. My partner did.
I did not have the option of maternity leave. I could pay the school to take a term off. My partner had access to a full semester.
We considered it a victory when we were able to convince our department to stop using discriminatory pay scales for foreign students, or when they agreed to pay summer school TAs the amount they verbally told the students (no paper contract had been issued that year). My partner's school? They had lawyers to deal with this type of negotiation, so that untrained students who should really be focusing on their theses didn't have to figure out which dean would be most sympathetic.
At the risk of starting a flame war, where do people come down on the issue of unions (in general, or in your university)?