Academic journal article Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship

Union Organizing at Heartland State University

Academic journal article Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship

Union Organizing at Heartland State University

Article excerpt

Introduction

Barb Gordon was settling back into her faculty office at Heartland State University (HSU) after a yearlong sabbatical. Opening up her emails, she found dozens of messages from students requesting permission to register for her class sections. She knew she had a long day ahead of her answering these emails. She would need to explain to each student that all the sections were full and already each section was well over the 45 student limit for upper level courses. Such student requests had become a typical beginning of the term occurrence because of increasing budget cuts and reduction in faculty numbers. While the student emails didn't surprise her, Barb was surprised by the large number of emails via the faculty listserv. The listserv usually contained information about upcoming concerts, retirement parties, and community events. But the subject lines of these emails were angry. People were debating whether or not the faculty should join a union.

As a professional worker, Barb really hadn't thought about joining a union. She was, however, concerned about the increasing class sizes and increasing work demands placed upon each professor due to the downsizing of the faculty. Plus, a number of her coworkers had suffered from serious health issues because of increased work stress. Maybe unionizing would help in the faculty's efforts to reestablish the quality that had been a causality of workforce reductions. After brewing herself a strong cup of coffee, Barb began reading the emails about the proposed faculty union.

History of Heartland State University

Heartland State University is a state-assisted university founded in 1926. The main campus is located on 1000 acres and has over 120 buildings, 20 of which are residence halls. The satellite campus opened in 1960 and is on a 200 acre campus approximately 60 miles from the main campus.

Heartland University draws students from 40 states and 90 foreign countries. There are 18,000 students on the main campus and 1900 students on the satellite campus. Five percent of the undergraduate students are nontraditional students over the age of 25. Ten percent of the students belong to a minority group (e.g., African- American, Hispanic) and three percent are international students. Sixty-two percent of the students graduate 6.1 years after they first enroll.

Heartland has 225 undergraduate majors, 72 master programs, and 14 doctoral degree programs. HSU has eight colleges: the satellite campus, the Graduate College, Arts & Sciences, Business, Education, Health, Music, and Technology. The university has many honor societies and over 300 student organizations. Annual undergraduate fee, including room and meals is $14,200. The university has over 200,000 alumni, with 70 alumni chapters around the world. Heartland's mascot is the bison in honor of the herds of bison that once roamed the acres that the university now occupies.

HSU's Faculty

There are 900 full-time faculty members at the main campus and 40 full-time faculty members on the satellite campus. Full-time faculty members are eligible for tenure according to the university's policies for tenure and promotion. HSU uses the traditional faculty ranking, from high to lowest, of professor, associate professor and assistant professor.

HSU has several endowed chairs, positions that were established by donations from private individuals or companies. Most of these endowed chairs are inadequately funded and HSU has been unable to attract top-notch faculty to these positions. Hence, several of the colleges within HSU have had difficulties in establishing centers of excellence or other well-regarded programs in growing fields such as entrepreneurship and international management.

HSU has a number of "star" faculty members who are good teachers and produce most of the research that appears on the university's applications for accreditation. Most of these stars are earning well under their market value. …

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