Magazine article University Business

Unions Get a Fresh Look

Magazine article University Business

Unions Get a Fresh Look

Article excerpt

FACULTY UNIONIZATION BRINGS TO MIND A HOST of perceptions (and misperceptions), but a new study examining the influence of unions on institutional decision-making provides hard data in place of heat. Conducted by Iowa State Professor Steve Porter and Graduate Assistant Clinton Stephens, the study examined the influence of unions on 15 institutional decisionmaking areas, from faculty salaries to teaching loads, curriculum, and budgetary planning. Unions have the strongest influence on salary--not surprising--but the study also surfaced a clear impact on department chair appointments and on institution-wide committee selection.

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"There did not appear to be any negative effects for unionization," says Porter, who is associate professor of educational leadership and policy studies. "I went in thinking you'd see a strong effect for salary [and], perhaps negative effects in other areas."

The study underscores with data what many administrators and faculty know: these stakeholders can work together effectively. "I do believe that most administrations work with the faculty on tough issues," says Claire Van Ummersen, a senior advisor at the American Council on Education, who works with campuses on leadership and capacity-building issues. …

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