30 November, 2012

All For One And One ...

The faculty at Utica College is organized for Collective Bargaining purposes - which is to say we have a union, the AAUP-UC. That's not common at independent colleges.

In my first year here (1975-76) we voted to establish it, and there are only a couple of us left from that era. As a young professor I served as an officer in the union, but then things got weird.

Contracts usually ran for three years and were then renegotiated with the labor specialist from Syracuse University. Utica College, until recently, was one of the dozen or so schools that made up Syracuse University, but today we are separately chartered.

In the late 1990s the usual SU negotiator was unavailable, and the president discussed with me possible replacements who might lead the administrative team. At that time I was Vice-President and Dean of the College and knew all of the players. The list was short, and all of the choices but one would have been disasters. That one was me, and I took over as lead negotiator for the College. It was a very awkward position to be in - the symbolic leader of the faculty negotiating against the faculty. At least I was able to make sure that nothing really stupid would happen.

A decade later the tables turned. I had returned to the faculty ranks and was asked by the union to be on their negotiation team. I was reluctant but ultimately decided I could help the cause.

I think it's safe to say I'm one of the few who has negotiated on both sides of the table at a single company. I know it's true here, and I'm certain it will never happen again. Both sides here have now resorted to hiring lawyers to do their negotiating. Sad commentary.

Anyway ... as part of one campaign, I developed a series of cartoons by "repurposing" old political cartoons. My first effort is below. "Surely we can add one more" - as the administration further increases our workload until we get to the straw that breaks the camel's back.