Below is a message I wish I didn't have to write.
Yesterday, a ballot was mailed to you asking whether or not you would like a union to represent your Blair contract. When I first heard about unionization in January, I was in favor of it. But then I had the chance to follow this case more closely, to participate in the National Labor Relations Board hearings, and to meet the people involved. Doing so changed my mind profoundly.
Here are some facts to know:
- Peer-reviewed scholarship demonstrates that academic unionization actually decreases faculty satisfaction with workload (Krieg, Wassell, et al., PDF attached)
- The specific union seeking to represent you, SEIU, has a history of bully behavior and troubled finances - see www.OURvanderbilt.org, www.seiuexposed.com, or ask the many Blair faculty who have been harassed at their private homes. SEIU's primary expertise is in healthcare and fast food, not academia.
- By contrast, the American Association of University Professors (www.aaup.org) has an established track record in academia, and membership in their union is individual and voluntary. I personally know people whose jobs AAUP has saved. If you want a union, this is the one you actually want.
Only mark your ballot "yes" if you definitely want this particular union - which was simply the first one to knock on your door - to represent you. But if you're undecided, or if you'd like to have more time, or if you think unionization is a bad idea, or if you think unionization is a good idea but want to research all your options, or if you honestly don't care - vote no. Abstaining allows the minority to rule.
I sincerely wish I didn't have to bother you with this message during your summer. I would never write you unless it were a matter of lasting importance to our common workplace and my own beloved alma mater.
But sadly, turning in a "no" ballot is the only way we have left to keep an outside entity from permanently changing Blair.
Senior Lecturer in Musicianship
Blair School of Music