Over 150 professors fight forced unionization at University of Illinois

Sterling Beard
Director of Journalism Training

  • 158 professors have signed open letter opposing unionization.
  • Unionization drive is conducted by the Campus Faculty Association.
  • A cadre of professors is resisting efforts to unionize the faculty at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC).

    So far, 158 professors have signed an open letter expressing their opposition to the unionization drive by the Campus Faculty Association (CFA), an organization which says it “aims to create an open and democratic university by balancing the power of the administration with a strong faculty voice through an open process of collective bargaining.”

    “We. . .find no evidence that academic excellence on our campus would be advanced by ceding control of many of our most important decision-making processes to local representatives of a national labor union.”   

    “We. . .find no evidence that academic excellence on our campus would be advanced by ceding control of many of our most important decision-making processes to local representatives of a national labor union,” the letter states.

    Signatories argue that under Illinois law, a successful unionization would require faculty to pay union dues. Moreover, the union would represent the faculty bargaining unit.

    The unions in question include the American Federation of Teachers/Illinois Federation of Teachers and the American Association of University Professors.

    One voice against unionization belongs to Dr. Nicholas Burbules, an Educational Policy Studies professor of at UIUC, who runs the No Faculty Union blog with Dr. Joyce Tolliver, an Associate Professor of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese.

    “I think [having a faculty union] might be the right model on some campuses, but many of us think it’s not the right model for this campus,” Burbules told Campus Reform in an email. “We have a strong senate and shared government process. Many of the issues unions raise can already be handled in the senate. The University of Illinois Champaign is one of the best research universities, and none of the other top-tier campuses are unionized.”

    National Right to Work Committee spokesman Patrick Semmens told Campus Reform that a faculty union would limit the professors’ ability to speak freely.

    “What unions do is monopolize speech,” Semmens said. “Once a workplace is unionized, the union speaks for everyone in the bargaining unit and an individual worker’s, or professor’s, speech is limited because of the legal power granted to union officials to ‘represent’ everyone, even those who don’t support the union.”

    The CFA did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.

    Via Inside Higher Ed.

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter @SterlingCBeard





    Sterling Beard

    Sterling Beard

    Director of Journalism Training
    Sterling Beard is Campus Reform's Director of Journalism Training. Prior to joining Campus Reform, he spent time as an editorial associate for National Review Online and as a staff writer at The Hill, where he served as the Intercollegiate Studies Institute's Lyn Nofziger Fellow and regularly appeared across the country on Fox News Radio to provide analysis of current events. In 2017, Sterling was named to The Chronicle of Higher Education's Influence List, one of nine people who "affected federal policy, campus culture, and the national conversation about education in 2017 — and who are likely to remain influential in the year ahead."
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