Some Union Members Are More Equal Than Others

by E Wayne Ross on June 13, 2011


The Chronicle: Some Union Members Are More Equal Than Others

By Keith Hoeller and Jack Longmate

Do tenure-track and adjunct faculty belong in the same union? A 1980 U.S. Supreme Court decision ruled that tenure-track faculty are “managerial employees” and not entitled to unions in the private sector. But in public-sector unions, tenured professors are often combined with contingent faculty, who are certainly not “managerial.” Tenure-stream faculty supervise the adjuncts, determining workload, interviewing, hiring, evaluating, and deciding whether to rehire them. Gregory Saltzman observed in the National Education Association’s “2000 Almanac of Higher Education” that combined units may not be ideal because of the “conflicts of interests between these two groups.”

In fact, the unequal treatment of professors by their unions has come to resemble the plot of George Orwell’s dystopian novel Animal Farm.