“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

9 03 2011

Greetings fellow managers! What’s that you say? You don’t manage anybody? Tell that to this guy:

Bruce Johnson, president and CEO of the Inter-University Council of Ohio, acknowledged that he suggested the language to members of the state Senate, which was later reflected in Senate Bill 5. The bill extends to the faculty of public institutions the same reasoning that was used in NLRB v. Yeshiva University, which previously applied only to private college professors. The 1980 Supreme Court decision barred faculty members at private colleges from bargaining collectively on the grounds that they enjoyed managerial status because of their role in shared governance.

“The IUC believes the same thinking should apply to public universities,” Johnson wrote in a Feb. 25 letter to state Senator Kevin Bacon. “Such a change is necessary to improve managerial processes on campus, to increase efficiencies and reduce costs. We request that state public universities simply be given the same consideration as their private counterparts.”

The Catch-22 here is quite stunning. Either you have the power to affect governance and can’t organize or you can’t organize and you have no power to affect governance. The result is a campus where everyone is a manager and nobody is a worker. It essentially eliminates class tensions by fiat. While not at all surprising, it does serve as a reminder of just how deeply committed some university administrators are to, like the White Queen, believing six impossible things before breakfast.

The chief problem then becomes how do you get them to snap out of it. Noting this story on Twitter, Jon Dresner writes:

And people wonder why faculty consider administration “the dark side”?

Certainly, he has a point, but I tend to believe that most administrators are smart enough to realize when they are taking a position like this one that is patently absurd. Therefore, if you can sit down, reason with them and explain the benefits of organization to both faculty and administration alike you’ll both benefit in the long run.

Indeed since, as the Wisconsin struggle has clearly demonstrated, faculty really are no different than any other workers in the eyes of our new Tea Party Overlords, this is pretty much the only avenue you have short of manning the barricades because American labor law and academic tradition offer you very few other options.

PS Darned. I thought that Alice in Wonderland post I’ve been promising was going to be a happy one, but it’s not a particularly happy book when you think about it. Try this, for instance:

But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “otherwise you wouldn’t have come here.”

Yeah, that pretty well sums it all up, doesn’t it?


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