The Strike of 2006: A few Sunday morning links

A couple of people have mentioned to me this already, but I hadn’t read this Eastern Echo editioral, “Faculty union has right to strike,” until this morning. Wow, great great job. Please read it all; here’s an example of what you’ll find:

With the fourth-highest paid administrators in Michigan’s public higher education system, and a history of fiscal debacles regarding the laughably inept handling of Kirkpatrick’s departure (the blame for which must be shared by the regents and the administration), the whining over paying faculty more could not be more self-serving. Instead of investing in capital improvements like an unnecessary new union, or the boondoggle of the presidential mansion, the administration should have been preparing to support the faculty that differentiate this institution from community colleges, and even going further in attempting to recruit more top quality faculty. With their treatment of the strikers, EMU’s administration is hurting the ability of future students to receive the best education possible.

It is also good to remember that while a strong program taught by passionate, intelligent and well-compensated faculty can attract students that will reflect well both on this institution and on the rest of the student body, no one has ever chosen a college on the strength of their bureaucracy. Administrators exist to serve the students and the faculty, not the students and the administration, nor just the administration. Rather than carping about the illegality of the strike and sending passive-aggressive mass e-mails that minimize the responsibility of the administration, perhaps some time reconsidering the central missions of the university would be a better use of their time. As long as the strike continues, we imagine that all of us in the EMU community will have some to spare.

Then there’s articles like this one in the Detroit News correction:Free Press, “Strike puts EMU students in middle.” This piece is a really good example of how the administration’s PR team is getting its message in the press and why the folks in the EMU-AAUP need to take up the offer of some help getting their message out. I’m doing what I can here. But, as I think is really obvious with what I’ve been writing and what people have been posting here, EVERYONE feels stuck in the middle.

If the administration isn’t willing to come back to the table, I still think the best solution is the fact finding mission offer. I still don’t completely understand the legal issues involved here (what is fact finding? what is the real difference between fact finding and binding arbitration, other than “binding” part? how long would this take? what are the possible outcomes? etc., etc.), but at face-value, it seems like a reasonable and face-saving compromise. I did find this pdf file at the American Arbritation Association that sort of explains the way that this organization facilitates fact finding. And again, if there are any labor-type lawyers out there who want to chime in on this, feel free.

Finally, while looking for something else, I came across this rather interesting/amusing site, “Ten Warning Signs of a Toxic Boss,” which is on monster.com. I don’t really consider Fallon et al my bosses per se– the relationship between tenured faculty like me at the upper administration is much more complicated than that, I think– but I do find it a bit creepy to think about some of these signs. You’ll have to look at the link, but a few of the signs here include:

  • Disrespectful Behavior
  • Bad Attitude
  • Distrust of Others
  • Fear Used as a Motivator
  • Word Choice
  • Extreme Friendliness
  • Self-Absorption

I think about those last three with the email messages that Fallon has sent out….

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One Response to The Strike of 2006: A few Sunday morning links

  1. Bud Gibson says:

    I guess my reaction is something like this. The central issue the University faces is not corrupt administration or over demanding faculty. It’s getting students in the place who are willing/able to pay what it costs to support operations.

    The Echo’s comparison of EMU with a Community College is apt. If indeed all the university offers is the commodity certification and course work offered elsewhere, then we should all expect to be paid less and less.

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