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Published: Sunday, 10/24/2010

BGSU's faculty union

FACULTY at Bowling Green State University say it might have reconsidered its years-long struggle to form a union if it had felt the university had bargained in good faith. The administration conceded problems of low pay were unresolved under previous university leadership.

Most full-time faculty evidently didn't buy the latest promises from the university that work to remedy issues of pay, benefits, and working conditions would begin anew, without the necessity of a union.

After two weeks of voting, with about 85 percent of eligible faculty participating, professors elected to join a union that represents faculty at seven other four-year public institutions in Ohio.

The vote in favor of joining the American Association of University Professors was the third taken on the issue. The last effort was defeated in 1994. In that election, the administration promised to improve salaries and shared governance without the need for collective bargaining, said David Jackson, an associate professor of political science and head of the BGSU Faculty Association.

This time, he argued, victory was made possible in part because the university didn't make good on those promises. Despite a vigorous campaign by the administration to fight the unionization plan, Mr. Jackson said faculty realized it needed a stronger say not only in contractual matters but also in helping to shape the university's future.

It's not the outcome BGSU President Carol Cartwright would have preferred. But in a letter to faculty and staff that acknowledged respect for the process and result, she encouraged a commitment to continuing "the sound stewardship of the university in these difficult economic times." That should be the overriding interest of both administration and faculty in contract talks.

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