Last post focused on some reactions to the “stacked deck” theory (which you can find explained in the post before that — just scroll down).
This letter came in as well — I encourage you to read it and decide whether it corresponds to your understanding of the real issues that account for a divided vote (and faculty).
In trying to assess the reasons for the [offer] acceptance at our college, [a union executive member at my college] noted that the business faculty had not one union steward (and it’s a very large faculty) and they are quite hostile to union issues. In another area of [the college], again there is no steward and there was likely a large acceptance rate. The only time I . . . ever met profs from other faculties was ON THE LINE last time, and [the courses] offered to new full time faculty! I still say hello in the hallways to those I was on the line with. I’ve been here for 5 years, and it’s awful how few people I know around the college. We’re all in silos, and know very little about the reality of others at the college, as you and others have pointed out.
I believe my dept, a big one, voted 50/50. Some partial loaders were openly saying that they “were the swing vote”. Our strike pay was going to be very generous, so they actually wouldn’t have taken a salary hit while on the line. However, the [level of] acceptance does show that many voted for an agreement that gave them nothing.
There are two issues here: One concerns a lack of communication and hence, I argue, community. And I don’t mean community as some “Kumbaya” feeling of togetherness and solidarity, but rather as a very basic understanding of what’s happening to our colleagues today, and what might happen to us tomorrow.
The other issue is those particular partial-loads mentioned in the letter, who voted to accept an offer that met none of their demands. (As my mailbox indicates, though, several of them certainly rejected that offer.) I could be wrong, but my own interactions with partial-load colleagues led me to believe that several of them were of the opinion that they had nothing to gain with a strike, even if the college’s offer gave them nothing. In short, they lacked confidence that their issues would remain on the table long enough to force arbitration, and/or lacked confidence that arbitration would give them anything anyway.
Of course, full-time faculty could have exactly the same lack of confidence, and many of them probably did. One can go on strike, but there’s no guarantee that the bargaining team will keep one’s personal priorities on the table, and even if they do, there’s no guarantee (as more than one correspondent has pointed out) that a binding arbitrator will give a better deal than was offered by the college management in the first place.
Is it, then, a question of faith? And if so, in whom or in what? And how can it be fostered?
And, back to the question of silos: Can they be broken down? Who stands to benefit from their presence or absence? How do we get over our assumptions that our complaints or satisfactions are identical to those in the next department, or faculty, or campus?
And my bigger question connects both issues — Assuming that it’s not enough merely to know what’s happening with those around you, could creating community, in turn, create confidence in our collective ability to create change? And if not, what else would?
Get back to me at firstname.lastname@example.org; there’s prime real estate in the next post available. In particular, if you’re partial-load, I want to know what ultimately led you to vote the way you did, regardless of which way that was.