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University Faculty Unions Must 'Organize or Die'

Not enough members.

5:27 PM, Mar 24, 2011 • By MICHAEL WARREN
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Want another example of how unions--even public sector ones--are on the decline? According to Inside Higher Ed, the university faculty union in Florida is scrambling to recruit more members:

Three bills that are advancing in Florida’s statehouse are pushing faculty union leaders to ramp up organizing efforts this semester to stave off the extinction of several chapters.

One of the bills would require a majority of faculty members to officially join unions -- and it would decertify the unions if they did not cross that threshold. At many campuses, a majority of faculty are not members, and signing up would require them to have 1 percent of their salaries deducted for union dues.

“It’s a race against time,” said Tom Auxter, a professor of philosophy at the University of Florida and president of United Faculty of Florida, which represents faculty members at 22 public campuses and is affiliated with the Florida Education Association, the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, and the AFL-CIO. If passed, the three bills would go into effect July 1. “We’re firing up all the engines to get people signed up,” he said. “The lesson for unions is organize or die.”

Public sector unions in general are difficult to defend, but unions for university faculty? Faculty are usually already well-organized in deliberative bodies (such as a faculty senate) and protected by tenure programs. It's not surprising faculty unions aren't popular in Florida--why pay dues to get a seat at the table when you've already own the table?

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