Faculty split on loss of union

By on March 29, 2006

Quinnipiac faculty has lost its union. After more than 30 years in existence, the National Labor Relations Board has revoked the Quinnipiac Faculty Federation’s certification.

Following the March 16th ruling that defined Quinnipiac full time faculty as managerial employees, university faculty was split on the decision.

Bruce M. Saulnier, professor of computer information systems, said people can look at this issue and see it very differently.

“The union protects the weakest link,” Saulnier said. “Some faculty fear that different work loads will lead to too much competition among faculty.”

He said that the majority of business faculty are happy not to have a union. About half of the communications and health science faculty are opposed to a union while most liberal arts faculty members are in favor of a union.

“With a union, everyone needs to fit into the same mold,” Saulnier said. “We have since outgrown that mold.”

Saulnier believes faculty representing themselves is best for everyone.

“Individual autonomy best fits students as a whole as well as the institution,” he said.

Adversely, Grace Levine, professor of communications, views the loss of the faculty union differently.

“I think the loss of the union is unfortunate,” Levine said.

“I don’t think [the union] got in the way of progress,” she said. “I think it served us well.”

Rick Hancock, assistant dean of the school of communications, supports union efforts.

“I support the efforts of a union when it benefits the employees,” Hancock said. “Just talking to faculty here, I am not sure that was the case.”

He said that the administration and faculty work well together now.

“I think it provides great opportunities to pay faculty what they are worth and be able to attract equally talented faculty in the future,” he said.

From past experience at FOX 61 and other local television stations, Hancock believes not having a union may not be a bad thing.

“We did better without a union because we were able to negotiate directly with management,” he said. “For better or for worse, unions sometimes put up barriers that are sometimes difficult to overcome – but not always.”

President John L. Lahey sent a letter dated March 22 to full time faculty.

“As a result [of the ruling,] Quinnipiac University will no longer bargain collectively with the faculty union. … The Quinnipiac University of today is much stronger in terms of its finances and its faculty governance, and our faculty salaries and benefits are highly competitive. … I am confident that the Faculty Senate and its committees will continue to exercise their expanding role in representing faculty rights and responsibilities in all areas of university governance, consistent with the academic traditions at the best private universities in America,” Lahey wrote.


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