Chair of Philosophy Dept. at Rutgers (Ranked #2 in the USA) on his Union

Jeffrey C. King, “It has been very good for my department.”

Prof. Bruce Rosenstock (Religious Studies) recently wrote to   Jeffrey King,  Distinguished Professor and the chair of the Philosophy Department at Rutgers asking about  his department’s experience with the long-standing faculty union (AAUP/AFT).  Prof.  King replied:

“There is just no doubt in my mind that the union here has been very good for my department.  They have consistently fought for better benefits, better wages (cost of living increases etc.) and other things that have benefited all faculty…”

Professor Rosenstock questioned:

“I have heard from some of our faculty that unionization will spell the end of our excellence as a Research 1 university, that we will lose our best faculty and that we will not be able to hire the best faculty.. ”

King replied:  “Nothing could be further from the truth here.”

“I do think I understand where the worries are coming from.  If unions, for example, opposed merit pay (as I have heard some do) or pushed for equalization of salaries across disciplines or etc., I can see how that might have the effects some of your colleagues worry about.  But at least here, nothing of that sort happens. “

“Deans, departments chairs etc. decide on salaries.  So e.g. salaries are higher in more highly ranked departments  because to hire people of the caliber those departments require costs more.   The union plays no role in decisions about salary levels in hiring.  What the union does is push for the very best deal they can get for all faculty regarding benefits, cost of living increases and merit pay.   In this they have been very successful.  Indeed, often when colleagues leave for departments without a union, our feeling is that 10 years down the road they will be much worse off than had they stayed at Rutgers.  And that is in general quite the case.”

“So if I had the choice of eliminating the union tomorrow or keeping it, I would choose one thousand times out of one thousand times to keep it.  I am confident that all my colleagues would say the same thing.”

Jeffrey C. King, Distinguished Professor and Chair

Department of Philosophy, Rutgers University

We’ve published Prof. King’s response with his permission, and minimal editing.  Prof. Rosenstock  notes that Rutgers’ Philosophy Department is ranked 2nd in the US.