Campus Faculty Association discusses possibility of unionization in response to University’s centralization plans

As University administration continues to centralize decision-making processes, the Campus Faculty Association, or CFA, is exploring the idea of forming an organized union.

James Barrett, professor of history, said the faculty’s voice is diminishing as there is a much stronger administration and president that are centralizing decisions.

One example is a recent proposal for admissions planning across the three University of Illinois campuses.

“As all of this is being decided, and as (the administration) go about planning, the faculty does not have much a voice in those decisions,” Barrett said.

The goal of the CFA is for faculty to have a stronger voice on campus through an open process of collective bargaining. The Campus Faculty Association has been around for more than 40 years, with hundreds of faculty as members. Throughout those years, they have not been recognized as a formal union with collective bargaining rights.

Barrett added that the CFA is exploring the possibility of affiliating with two national unions: the American Federation of Teachers and another organization specifically designed for college faculty called the American Association of University Professors.

“If the effort to unionize and win collective bargaining rights is successful, it may well be a joint, local union with both of those organizations,” Barrett said. “But so far, nothing is very firm; we are exploring our options. We’re actually going around and talking to every single faculty member, asking their opinion on this issue of collective bargaining, whether they support the idea or not.”

Barrett said so far the group has talked to hundreds of faculty members, and there is considerable support for the idea. Barrett stressed that the CFA does not know if it has a majority yet since the group members have not talked to everyone.

Barrett also added that they are “well within their rights” when it comes to this push for collective bargaining. He said that they are convinced it would make for a stronger and more democratic university.

Troy Brazell, a spokesman for the American Federation of Teachers, said their union is in full support of the University’s faculty if they were to push for collective bargaining rights.

Robin Kaler, University spokeswoman, said in an email that the University doesn’t need collective bargaining to negotiate with faculty.

“Regarding the question of unionization, the University deals fairly and individually with faculty. We see no reason for abandoning traditional governance systems.”

The CFA will continue to talk to faculty members and gauge their response to this plan. Once every faculty member is spoken to, they will make their decision on whether they will push for collective bargaining rights.