Dear Alma| Curious

Dear Alma —  I keep hearing that CFA’s union organizing campaign is a secret, underground movement.  Kind of like an infiltration of subversives in trenchcoats.  But you have hundreds of members and supporters. What’s up? – Curious about Conspiracies

Dear Curious – Back in the day, there were three of us.  Our plan was to dig a tunnel from our  shabby office in the Y on Wright Street up into Swanlund, and change the campus by boring from within.  Well, obviously that didn’t work out.

Several years back, we took a members’ vote to explore collective bargaining.  We decided to try to speak to each member of the faculty, tenure-track and non-tenure-track, to determine the everyday issues affecting us.  And just as important, to hear what people would like to do about them.

We’ve held forums and teach-ins, published documents, analyses, statements, commentaries and letters in newspapers;  we’ve  participated in debates in the Senate and the AAUP; we have a website, a FaceBook page and a Twitter stream. That’s very public, and it is helping change the campus.

It is a standard anti-union tactic to portray union organizers as a bunch of sneaky outsiders.  The truth is we are your colleagues. Our secret instructions are to listen more than to speak, and not to hang around when we aren’t wanted. Some people on campus don’t like us talking to faculty because we didn’t get their approval first.  Alas. –Alma

Published by Susan Davis

I teach in the Department of Communication at the University of Illinois.

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