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Faculty Forum Papers

January 1976 - In Union There Is ---? By

Jesse F. Bone
Veterinary Medicine

December 10, 1975

    Some time ago I expressed my doubts about the virtues of unionization of the academy. I said, I believe, that what academe could lose in freedom might be more that it would gain in money.

    I notice that initial steps have been taken to restrict individual freedom; possibly as a consequence of the recent salary increases which have augmented the number of dollars in our pockets, and the rate of inflation that erodes their value.

    A recent letter from the OSEA states - "like it or not, 'fair share', union shop, mandatory contributions - call it what you will - is here to stay." All of the sudden, OSEA, which was a voluntary organization, has now become an advocate of compulsion and coercion. The pattern is plain; no matter what group the academy chooses to represent it, that group will become a fixed parasitic growth upon our incomes and our liberties.

    There is a lot of noise about opting for a union shop in academe where we can close our doors on "outsiders" and shout slogans at our "enemies" in the administration and the legislature. Personally, I don't like it, but I fear that I shall be forced to endure it. I do not like adversary relationships. I disapprove of the implied or exercised use of force to coerce priveleges or benefits which are not earned. I do, however, believe that individuals who work should be rewarded, but I cannot see where a reward for the productivity of an individual should be applied like a blanket to those who fail to produce.

    I do not like the idea of relinquishing my freedom to a union steward. I do not like the idea of living in a union shop, or being muzzled if I want to say or do something that I feel should be said or done. I do not like even the idea of being a mass man, a statistic, a number to be manipulated by some union administrator. Unfortunately, I am a moral coward as well as a physical one and I have no desire to be forced into becoming a martyr for my beliefs. I would rather be left along and allowed to pursue my own destiny, with guidance and help perhaps, but not with the authoritarian tyranny of a union-employer consortium to control my actions.

    I chose academe over a quarter of a century ago because if offered me the freedom to do the things I liked to do; to work with young people in an intellectually stimulating atmosphere free for the most part from the constraints of government and from involuntary organizations. I liked the air of freedom and the interchange of ideas, but now the air is loaded with political smog, and the interchange is becoming a melange of accusation, recrimination, and evaluation. Maybe this is a reflection of the times and maybe this, too, will change, but the lessons that history teach are that changes will be for the worse rather than the better. I loathe the very thought of the lockstep society which is descending upon us, and about which I can do nothing.