Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Right to Unionize Chopped from Budget

Anonymous e-mailer lake flambe let me know that the legislative leaders have decided to remove the right for us to unionize from the state budget.

Here is the message, as lf commented about the loss and the more general failure of union politics:

Egad let us mourn the demise of collective bargaining out of the budget.

It really tees me off that this basic human right can't be granted the faculty and staff.
sheesh! However it is very strange how this effort is/was not marketed. You can't dig up any people to come forward and claim some union did something for them. Despite unions do lots of things for their members all the time.

Unions have very noticeable defects IMHO like that perennial fraud and embezzlement problem they have, their cult like top down structure, and lack of democratic principles amply supported by the crazy convention system most of them have, no term limits to office, highly paid career staffer yes-persons, and last but not least high dues and constantly hitting the membership up for more money and endless activities.

Unfortunately unions are unwilling to change any of these problems. Thus overcoming the deservedly bad impression from those problems and the fact that society is so conservative these days would take a massive PR campaign on every front. Actually I personally do think collective bargaining and unions have overall benefits to the membership despite the union culture's extreme resistance to improvement. (This was not a position the unions were willing to tolerate, I found out by personal experience. You're either in the cult or you're not. They didn't accept "yeah I like unions but X,Y,Z should be changed".I think that rigidity is _the_ major reason why unions are declining.)

And I would love to see the prolific labor history industry get shelved permanently. The eternal obsession that unions have with the past has IMHO a toxic effect, makes them even more resistant to change, and is just plain depressing. I for one am totally fed up with stories of the
30's and pictures of long-deceased union leaders. No more history profs setting union policy! The policy has to be shaped by the people the union is trying to organize, meaning unions have to find out what they want and how to communicate with them
about it.


Anonymous said...

Unions are for people that don't work hard enough to earn their own pay raises and benefits.

Working To Make A Living said...

anonymous said:
>Unions are for people that don't work hard enough to earn their own pay raises and benefits<

so all those people who faught for the 8 hr day, safe work environment etc, were fighting so lazy people could keep a job. Who would of thunk it, you are a M.F genius.

Anonymous said...

Correction...unions were once necessary and accomplished a lot. Now they are there to keep lazy losers in a job. I've seen it with my own eyes.

lammers said...

I never thought professionals needed unionization. I always thought that they were treated with sufficient respect by the powers-that-be that a union would be an unneccessary obstacle to good relations.

In light of the way UW-System is repeatedly disrespected by the legislature, I've come around to thinking that maybe a union is just what we need. At the very least, I'd like to use the threat of one to get the legislature's attention.

I could live with the budget cuts and years without pay raises if the legislature would just say, "Look, we'd really like to fund you fully, we value what you do, but times are tough and there ain't enough $$ to go around." I could respect that, even if I disagreed with it.

It's the utter disrespect for UW-System as an institution that I find so demeaning. It's the fact that we are used repeatedly as a whipping boy to distract the people of the state from other problems. Having career demagogues whip up anti-intellectualism to bolster their own political careers really sticks in my craw. It may be a useful strategem short-term, but I think it will come back to haunt its most fervent practioners in the long run.

Janine said...

I guess I'm not understanding the problem. In our business if our workers want to be unionized, they get together with the union and take a vote of all the employees (this has been done twice and lost both times in our business). Yes, this is probably a bit too simple of a statement, but, in essence this is what happens.

Who stops the profs and faculty from getting together as a unit, talking to the union, and making a vote? Why do you need funding in order to be unionized?

lammers said...

It is against Wisconsin state law for university faculty to unionize. We would be criminals if we did what you suggest.

lammers said...

Here's a useful link that explains it.

It really is monstrously unfair that we are forbidden to do what damn near everyone else in state government and private industry can do. There is no ethical logical reason for denying us the right to even decide.

Janine said...

I didn't realize it was illegal. I would be upset also if the choice was taken from me.

Thank you for the link.

Just out of curiosity ---- how are the teachers at the Technical Colleges able to be unionized? Are they not under contract with the state government? If this question is answered in the link above, I'm sorry. I'll read that info this weekend.

lammers said...

Janine asked: >>Just out of curiosity ---- how are the teachers at the Technical Colleges able to be unionized?<<

I have no idea. If I'm not mistaken, even the graduate student TAs at Madison are unionized. I cannot fathom what rational basis there could be for treating professors as second-class servants.

I'm no lawyer, but I wonder what would happen if the law were challenged in court on the basis of unconstitutionality. It can't be legal to treat some instructors one way and others another. Hey, maybe the courts would find in our favor and order the state to pay us 30 years of back wages that would've been higher if we'd been allowed to unionize.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why there exists a law specifically stopping UW faculty and staff from collective bargaining.
I know that it came from the
"labor peace" legislation of 1959.
The way this has been described to me is that public employees lost the right to strike in exchange for collective bargaining. (BUT
how did the faculty and staff end up losing their right to strike and *not* gaining the right to collective bargaining? The wording
below is incorrect. It makes it sound like all "university system" gained the right to bargain. Faculty and/or staff can form unions now and they have eg
UFAS, WUU and TAUWP. It's just that they can't gain exclusive representation and collective bargaining status. That really limits what they can do unless they could amass such a large number of members that the number of members itself was influential.
Wisconsin also led the nation in giving public employees the right of collective bargaining. The nation's largest public employee union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees was founded in Madison in 1936; throughout the state, public employees organized, even though they had no legal protections. Nonetheless, public workers, like those in Milwaukee regularly showed solidarity in threatening to strike to win fair treatment. Finally in 1959, the State passed the nation's first comprehensive public employee bargaining law, Section 111.70, which provided the right of collective bargaining to public employees, and also required municipalities, school districts the university system and other public entities to bargain with the unionized workers."