“We are willing to talk anytime, but we will not negotiate”

What a workplace is like when you don’t have a union

Why do workers need unions? Ask the faculty at John Carroll University. According to Inside Higher Ed, “John Carroll now says it can fire individual tenured faculty members without cause in cases of ‘budgetary hardship.’” Faculty members object that this obviates tenure altogether; after all, if these decisions are not susceptible to appeal, what’s to stop administrators from firing tenured faculty for any reason whatsoever and citing “budgetary hardship”? Faculty Council leaders acknowledge that the university faces budgetary hardship after the pandemic and some say they’d rather trade economic concessions for job security. They report that they approached administrators seeking to discuss the terms, but were told, “We’ll talk anytime about the changes – but we will not negotiate.”

Under the National Labor Relations Act, if workers vote for union representation, their employer is legally obliged to bargain with them. Unfortunately the NLRA does not cover tenured faculty, who are considered management for the purpose of the law. Without a union, your rights are dependent on the goodwill of your employer.

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