I’m up far too late, antsy and not able to get to sleep, I suppose because of “current event” issues around here. First off, I went to yet another union meeting today about the contract negotiations. You can read about some of it at the EMU-AAUP web site, and also at this EMU web site page about the union. Funny– there’s a link to EMU on the union web site, but not a link to the union on the EMU web site.
Anyway, a lot what happen is a really a rehashing of this postand this post. The issue of insurance has been resolved in the union’s favor, and it looks to me like the union and the administration are moving closer together in terms of salary stuff. The only thing that might be a bit more dicey is getting language in the contract about hiring back more faculty. They may very well be talking about that as I type.
Second off, school hasn’t started (it does on Wednesday– assuming we get a contract, of course) and I already have this very odd feeling of already being behind. Logically, I know that isn’t true. In fact, I actually got a revision of the essay I was working on off for further review this weekend, all of my classes are ready to go for the first day (well, as ready as I can be at this stage), etc., etc. But I guess because of both distractions from the union (the meeting today, there’s a rally tomorrow, there’s yet another meeting tomorrow night, etc.) and the act of getting some of this work done has left me feeling behind, perhaps more with things around the house than with school.
In any event, two thoughts I had about the whole union thing. First off– and this is for any of you EMU people out there who might come across this post– don’t confuse my own discomfort with the simplistic discursive style the union has been taking in these negotiations and my less than enthusiastic stand on a faculty strike with not being supportive of the union or willing to honor a picket line. I’ve offered dissenting opinions about what the union is negotiating because it’s part of the democratic process. When we all start parroting the “party line” for the sake of solidarity, that’s when we get in trouble. That’s when we go on strike for no good reason.
Second, I realized today that a lot of how people feel about the contract negotiations seem to me related to how well they think they are being paid, relatively speaking. Maybe this is too obvious, but let me try to explain what I mean a bit. While average salaries at EMU are low across the board, the thing that really brings us down as an institution is the pay being received by associate and full professors. We’ve being hiring assistants at relatively competitive rates, but, because of that old salary monster called “compression,” the folks who’ve been here the longest are falling the farthest behind.
I suppose the other factor here is that the people who have been here the longest are perhaps the most “out of touch” for what the going rate is for a professor at a particular rank. I don’t know that, just a guess.
I don’t really have a solution to this problem, other than to say that the only way the senior faculty are ever going to get caught up is if we move away from this 2 or 3 or 4 percent “across the board” model of pay raises to some system where folks who are further behind get a bigger raise than folks who are being paid about right. There is currently a tiny TINY pool of money to do this, but it needs to be a lot bigger, I think. But this would be complicated, it would create a bit of a “have and have not” system, and I don’t expect to see this kind of change anytime soon.