FacuLeaks I: Mop-Pushers Who Hate Research

Hey-o friends. Welcome to my most ill-advised venture yet. I can’t say how often I’ll be able to do this (possibly until I get threatened?), but I am proud to introduce FacuLeaks, a new feature wherein anonymous sources tip me off to the wackiest, most obnoxious, most mind-numbingly inane faculty email threads in this great country, and I publish them with commentary.

Here’s how it works. Some ground rules:

  1. Sources do not have to, but might want to, use a burner email address for plausible deniability; if you use your real name, you shouldn’t use your university account.
  2. Your anonymity is GUARANTEED from my end; if some righteously offended Fullprof retains counsel and subpoenas my laptop and forks out for a cyber-PI, I don’t know what to tell you, but I will never reveal a source voluntarily.
  3. All names, institutions, fields and almost all identifying details will be redacted.* (*Ranks will be accurate, nothing else.)
  4. Emails may be excerpted (who the fuck am I kidding, they always will be; academics do not know how to self-edit), but excerpts will be verbatim, errors included.

I look forward to hearing from all of you.

Here is our first FacuLeak.

***

The University of Red State-Big City Branch Campus, like many institutions of its size and profile, is currently in the midst of a push by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) to unionize faculty. Some faculty unionization drives limit themselves to adjunct, contract, or NTT faculty; other drives, for whatever reason, choose to include all faculty, including ladder faculty. URS-BCB is attempting the latter.

THE FACTS, as far as I can glean from my leaked email thread, are the following:

  • The drive is currently in the “voting to vote” stage; this means that they have a right to form a union, but need to prove to the administration that enough faculty want to try to form a union, before they can actually hold an up-or-down vote to form the union.
  • If 30 percent of the faculty vote to vote (not vote for the union, mind you, vote to vote to form a union), then an all-faculty election would be held, officiated by a neutral third-party institution mutually agreed upon.
  • If the Yeas outweigh the Nays in that vote, the union will be formed, and any faculty member who wishes to join it may do so. (Anyone who does not wish to may opt out, but will be afforded union protections anyway.)
  • The union will then begin working on a contract to bring to the administration. If the administration accepts the contract, anyone who has joined the union will begin paying dues (2.5% of their salary); anyone who doesn’t want to, won’t.
  • According to emails in the thread from members of the organizing committee, the union will not extract a “fair-share” fee from nonmembers.
  • Public employees in Red State are not allowed the legal option to strike (i.e. any striking they did would be illegal and subject to shit-tons of fines, etc).

Some of the faculty are excited about forming a union. Some are skeptical. Some are vehemently against it. Here are some of their stories, helpfully annotated by yours truly.

TenuredProf9000 says:

I’m still not convinced in the competency or intent (beyond increasing visibility and revenue) of a union whose membership is largely blue collar service and health care workers. Certainly not convinced that such an entity is (more) qualified than an education/teacher-specific one to operate on our behalf.
Super-convenient argument, given that aside from the AFT there really isnt such a union with enough power to do a nationwide drive like this. Something tells me, however, that this caring nurturer, who holds “blue collar” workers in such high esteem, would probably have similarly discerning things to say about “mere” K-12 teachers. Also, since many adjuncts are treated and paid much more like fast food workers than Kindergarten teachers, it actually does make sense–but, like so many ladder faculty who teach Marx in the classroom but bristle when they themselves are associated with the proletariat, TP-9000 is different from the rabble, thank you very much. To wit:
I’m also not sure that there is a clearly discernable “collective” issue base here at URS-BCB among three somewhat distinct groups of faculty (TT, NTT, adjuncts). […] And how reflective of all faculty needs and wants is a union borne largely from adjuncts? TTs? NTTs?

This last sentiment is a key component of the epistolary masterpieces of one Bletherton K. Aynrandrules Jr., a full professor who has DIRE WARNINGS about the coming TYRANNY, people. TYRANNY I SAY:

[I]f we are going to preserve shared governance, our paychecks, and our research mission (this union of mop pushers doesn’t give a damn about research and will bargain that away in a heart beat).  If we lose the election [i.e. the union forms], and I fear [redacted] may be right about this, we could be looking at a long, intrusive tyranny of the minority.
I don’t know about you, but I love it when people with PhDs and influence over students borrow their dipshit logic from Ayn Rand and white supremacists.

But, OK, to respond to this somewhat sincerely: If you really think that by forming a faculty union, the adjuncts are suddenly going to go mad with their moderate amount of power and negotiate a contract so favorable to NTT faculty that, somehow, the administration decides to do away with all tenured faculty forever (missing a couple of steps there, a la the Underpants Gnomes, but I’ll play along), and never allow anyone do research again, that says far more about what YOU would do with a moderate amount of power than what would actually happen.

If anything, my readers have told me,full-inclusion faculty unions often FAVOR ladder faculty, and if I were an adjunct at URS-BCB, I might want to do an adjunct or NTT-only faculty union and leave Atlas-Shrugged-reading dildos like this out of it.

And, finally, my personal favorite of the lot, this champion of intellectual inquiry, Meritocratus the Great, whose rank was not disclosed:

Somehow, it doesn’t seem possible that all of the great scholars and aspiring scholars at this university (or other universities) would want to turn over their academic futures to some group that might negotiate a 2% salary increase.  I know that there are people at URS-BCB who are being underpaid, and I suspect that many of them will achieve greater earning power through excellence in research and teaching.
Hear that, plebs? If you don’t get paid enough, the single and only reason for this is because you aren’t doing good work. Academia is a pure and just meritocracy, and I am about to prove it with this here magnificent anecdote:
It’s not as if great scholars can be easily replaced by any old warm bodies.
This is true. Everyone knows they can only be replaced by robots.
Clearly, everyone doesn’t share the same goals in the academic profession; nor do they merit equal recognition.
OH YES? DO TELL ME WHY THIS IS THE CASE.
A very close friend of mine at another university is very angry with his administrators.  Given his worldwide recognition in [bioflurgial thingthatdefinitelyexists I redacted], I don’t think he will stick around very long if his requirements for achieving great results aren’t delivered.  He is a genius and an iconoclast; I don’t think he can or should be represented by a union.
Let me get this straight. Some rando you know who works at some other place that isn’t where you work is an “iconoclast and a genius,” so because of this, nobody where you work should even get to vote on whether to HAVE a union? NO WONDER YOU ARE SUCH AN IRREPLACEABLE TREASURE AT THE TOP OF YOUR FIELD WORKING AT THE THIRD-BEST BRANCH CAMPUS OF A MIDDLING STATE SCHOOL. It all makes sense now.

***

This has been the first, and quite possibly last, edition of FacuLeaks.

Given that none of these people has a free union lawyer at their disposal, however, I’m feeling pretty good.

***

Wanna leak to FacuLeaks? Remember the rules above, and hit me up.

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7 thoughts on “FacuLeaks I: Mop-Pushers Who Hate Research

  1. I already know that an awful lot of tenure-related faculty are total assholes, but I’m enjoying this anyway. Keep up the good work.

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  2. Very impressive. Though it sounds like some of these people could, if they engaged in some head-posterior configuration rearrangement, be convinced. For instance “this union of mop pushers doesn’t give a damn about research.” As it happens, I’m a UAW member (postdoc researcher). You know who negotiates our contracts? Postdocs. Negotiations lately have been focused on things like contract length, salary, health care (especially for international employees), and harassment policies. So, in other words, a pretty good representation of what we care about as postdocs.

    I have less hope for anyone who doesn’t realize that the first half of “I know that there are people at URS-BCB who are being underpaid, and I suspect that many of them will achieve greater earning power through excellence in research and teaching.” contradicts the second half. What does xe think “underpaid” means, anyway?

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  3. Continue this work! Having participated in attempts to unionize faculty in Texas universities, having experienced how graduate students and adjunct-faculty are indentured servants, given the hubris of the purple-robed tenured faculty, and having played my role in numerous inane university email threads, I support and will aid the chiseling away of corporate, ill-constructed towers of academic branding, optics, and cohorts.

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