At Boston University, a number of full-time, salaried, non-tenured “lecturers” and instructors at several of the University’s schools have asked to become members of the SEIU, a union that already represents some of BU’s librarians, maintenance employees, and part-time faculty. (If you cannot imagine why college professors would want to unionize, speak to any non-tenured college professor about their salary and job security, or lack thereof.) They’re planning to hold an election on whether to unionize next week. That, of course, means that the university itself—in the person of the provost, Jean Morrison—will be spending this week bombarding employees with helpful information about why unions are bad.
(Not to spoil the movie but: universities, like regular companies, view unions as bad because they tend to give more money and workplace influence to workers, though that is not what they usually say to workers who are deciding whether or not to unionize.)
On Monday, Provost Morrison sent an email to faculty members clarifying that “For many reasons, it is my hope that you vote ‘no’ to Union representation by the SEIU.” Surprise! Today, she sent yet another email to her colleagues urging them not to unionize—this time, arguing that no one in a union should be able to serve on a faculty advisory committee. From her email today, bolding ours:
Members of University Council meet regularly with the President and Provost, develop and vote on policies that affect faculty and students, and shape the curriculum of the University by approving new programs and degrees. The University Council provides strategic advice to the President and Provost, often on sensitive and significant issues in the operation of the University, and is often privy to confidential information. Service on the University Council is an important opportunity for faculty to contribute to the mission and goals of the University. However, given the nature of the University Council - which embodies shared faculty governance - I find participation in the University Council by faculty who are represented by a union in negotiations with the University to be fundamentally incompatible and thus inappropriate...
I believe that union membership fundamentally alters the relationship between a faculty member and the University by inserting union negotiators and union interests between us. Thus, if the SEIU prevails in this election, I will pursue changes to our faculty governance that include the removal of Senior and Master Lecturers from eligibility to participate in our strategic faculty governance body, the University Council.
It is nice to know that Boston University cares about what its employees think.