I filled out my ballot for the EMU-AAUP Executive Committee elections today, voting for the PDU candidates, of course. My hope is that any of my fellow EMU faculty reading this will do the same and vote for Sally McCracken for President, Jim Vandenbosch for Vice President, Howard Bunsis for Treasurer, and Mark Higbee, Kate Mehuron, and Marty Shichtman for the three Members at-large positions. Vote also for the Constitution and Bylaws change that makes only elected members of the Executive Committee eligible to vote on the Executive Committee. For those of you not familiar with all of this but curious, check out the EMU Professors for a Democratic Union Web site, which I maintain and which contains lots of information about all this.
It’s funny, because it was just about a year ago that Susan Moeller first asked me if I’d be interested in running for a spot on the Executive Committee of the union as part of a group of people interested in reforming the way the union in general and the Executive Committee in particular worked. Somewhat naively, I ran, I won, and I got my chance to serve on the Executive Committee. It was a strange and odd time, and a rather short-lived one too since I and my fellow reformers resigned in protest about six months after taking office. Here are the last two paragraphs of the resignation letter I wrote:
The bickering, the arguments, the petty and irrelevant disputes, and the finger-pointing have been non-stop and extraordinarily stressful, and we still are not any closer to resolving the problems of our chapter. I have sat through nearly six months of Executive Committee meetings, and, for the life of me, I still do not understand why our chapter did not pay national dues for two years. Furthermore, the Executive Director, the past president, and members the past Executive Committee have never claimed any responsibility or accountability for these problems.
So, because of these and numerous other reasons, I believe being a member-at-large of the EMU-AAUP Executive Committee has become unproductive, and I believe continuing to be a member of the committee would damage my good name and my academic career. I want to thank Susan Moeller for asking me to run for this position in the first place, and I want to thank my colleagues at the AAUP for a truly eye-opening and educational experience, one I do not hope soon to repeat.
I can say without a doubt that being on this committee was the most unpleasant and bizarre experience I have had since I have become an “academic.” I found the pettiness, the craziness, and the obvious desires to hold on to power at the cost of the will of the membership startling and childish, especially considering the fact this was a group of college faculty.
At the time, I wasn’t sure if resignation was the way to go or not; ultimately, I think it was the right decision because it has brought the problems with the way things were running to the attention of all the faculty at EMU. Thus, the PDU was born, and another slate of candidates who want to reform the union. Only this group is quite a bit wiser and well organized than the slate I was on last year.
Interestingly enough, the issues are roughly the same: the fiscal responsibility of the union office (or lack thereof), the hostile tone taken by the communications officer and the like, and democratic control over the chapter. Only in some ways, these same problems are all the more pronounced because of time and because of the results of an audit of the chapter’s books. I don’t have the time and you don’t have the interest to read all the details– if you do have time and interest, visit the PDU web site, or the EMU-AAUP Web Site. The EMU-AAUP web site is really something; they published some letters from the chapter’s attorney in response to the auditors’ reports that essentially accuse this independent auditor as being “unfair” or “incompetent,” and that we should trust the EMU-AAUP office, the one that didn’t pay around $140,000 worth of dues for two years, along with everything else. Yeah, right.