Non-unionization best way to preserve University excellence

On Feb. 18, the faculty union at the University of Illinois at Chicago campus walked out of their classrooms and onto the picket lines. This action demonstrates beyond a reasonable doubt that the union’s primary concern is not students’ welfare or educational excellence. 

The strike is primarily over faculty compensation. Over the past two years, the Urbana campus faculty members have received reasonable raises by working collaboratively with our administration. In contrast, the faculty union in Chicago has turned the discussions into an angry, divisive debate that continually blames a recalcitrant administration — the very same university administration that has generously worked with Urbana faculty to increase salaries and address other concerns. 

In a Feb. 5 article in The Daily Illini, Campus Faculty Association President Harriet Murav tried to portray the union as being concerned about students and tuition. Yet, in other domains — most notably the numerous office visits to my colleagues — CFA representatives have told faculty that they want to increase faculty salaries. 

Raising salaries and capping tuition both require the same thing — money. Yet, not a single union member has provided a credible argument, let alone evidence on how the existence of a union would increase resources on this campus (unsupported opinions about hidden cash reserves or administrative bloat aside do not count as evidence). 

A faculty union will throw sand in the gears of this institution when it comes to our most important decisions — hiring, promoting, and retaining key faculty. Illinois students who care about the long-term value of their degree should not fall for the illogic of the union’s talking points. 

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We built one of the best public research universities in the world without a faculty union. Keeping ourselves non-unionized is the best way to preserve our tradition of excellence.

Jeffrey Brown,

William G. Karnes professor of finance