Saturday, March 5, 2016

In which Sly complains that the union is doing him wrong

Primo: I found all these old emails, which I have put in the recycling. My dad was angry that he had not advanced in his career. And he was angry that the union promoted people based on seniority and not competence.

Me: And how does one measure competence in academia? You have to define an objective measure. Look how much of a battle tenure is!

Primo: He thought it was unfair.

Me: You don't get to pick and choose when you are in a union.

Primo: He said academia was different from a factory floor and that incompetence should not be protected.

Me: Incompetence should not be protected anywhere, especially on a factory floor! And unions have no place in academia - it is not production work that can be easily measured.

Primo: My dad spent a lot of time on faculty development. He was really interested in the theory and the practice. They got this new department chair who assigned my dad to teach two sections of Shakespeare. My dad was upset about it.

Me: Why?

Primo: I guess he wanted to teach something else. So he wrote to the chair. The chair said he had looked at all the recent peer-reviewed journals and had not found anything my dad had written. And then he said maybe if my dad weren't so busy being Faculty Czar, he would have time for research.

Me: Ouch! Straight for the jugular!

Primo: But my dad was doing research!

Me: Yes, but he was doing organizational behavior research, not English literature research. You advance in academia by contributing to the field of knowledge in your field. Your dad's field was not org behavior.

1 comment:

  1. Since I teach at a university it's easy for me to imagine why Sly thought he was "done wrong."

    Tenure track professors are expected to teach, publish, serve on committees, and engage in other activities that support the department that they work for. This would be particularly important for someone teaching in an English department. At many universities, enrollment in humanities programs is falling as students prefer to study a STEM subject.

    Performing research in organizational behavior would not, in my estimation, support a university's English department and refusing to teach an assigned class would also be problematic.

    I teach in a humanities department and we are fighting for our survival; we faculty are all working hard to increase enrollment and to raise the profile of our department on campus. Sly does not sound like he was a team player, at work or at home.

    Of course, it's all because he was so much smarter than everyone else, right?

    As far as unions go, they've given someone like me (an adjunct, not a tenure track professor) a lot of benefits that I would not have otherwise. Seniority does matter when class assignments are given but the quality of our teaching is also taken into account when staffing decisions are made.


Sorry about the new commenting requirements - I have been getting spammed like crazy.