Faculty need to form a union

We faculty, both tenure-line and contingency, have spent a good deal of time this semester discussing whether to form a union. More and more faculty have been signing up in support. We intend to file for our union election soon so we all can have a vote on this important question.
 
I believe in the ability of unions to improve people’s lives. A union is how people with less power can gain power and leverage in dealings with the more powerful. We do that by joining together. In a union, we will be stronger than we are as isolated individuals, teaching and doing research in the ever-more-corporate realm of higher education.
 
Unions are what built the American middle class, and as the power of the labor movement has eroded in recent decades, so too has the income and buying power of the middle class. This has also been true for professionals who traditionally thought we didn’t need a union. 
 
As someone who has been on the faculty since 1987, I have long participated in faculty governance on this campus. Many good people have worked very hard doing so, but the results have been mixed at best.
 
The main problem is that faculty governance as it currently exists is only advisory to the administration. A faculty union will mean faculty governance with the legal power of a union contract behind it. A union will not be able to achieve everything we want, but the administration will be legally required to negotiate with us seriously.
 
In a union, we would have much more leverage to protect tenure lines, add teaching positions and enhance salaries and job stability for part-time and full-time contingent faculty.
 
As a union, we would also have the ability to bring a strong, independent faculty voice to the state Legislature to advocate for our research and teaching priorities, as well as the needs of our students, instead of relying on the administration to do so.
 
Why are faculty forming a union? In short: for a stronger voice at the University and a stronger voice at the Capitol.