Creating a Healthy Union-Administration Relationship

Advancing institutional mission.

December 6, 2015
Six years ago when I came to our college, the relationship between the three unions on campus and the administration was fractured, to say the least. Members of the union often took to the press to air their concerns and grievances. There was little trust among the faculty, staff, and the executive team. Slowly, the relationship improved over the time that I have been at the college through concerted efforts by the entire community.

Coming into the role of president, I was intent on continuing to improve mending those relations and enlisting the unions, as well as others, as engaged partners in enhancing the effectiveness of the college. As an institution, our success around increasing access, improving student success rates, and addressing systemic problems is greatly enhanced by having a near-optimal working relationship and fostering a culture that supports collaboration, acknowledgment, and recognition of each other’s contributions—as individuals and as the groups with which we are affiliated.

Growing up working class, I have a tremendous admiration for union leadership. After all, they are the people who brought us the weekend. (I love seeing that bumper sticker!). I am fortunate that our unions are led by rational, logical individuals who are deeply committed to the institution. We are also deeply committed to honoring the contracts and processes established therein. Most importantly, we support and advocate for each other.

Ensuring that our faculty and professional staff have a fair and dignifying contract is in the best interest of students and the institution overall. Like any other industry, competitive compensation allows us to attract and retain the best talented individuals. Equally important is creating an environment that supports professional development, scholarly interests, and provides opportunities for growth and advancement.

It is not by accident that our country continues to lead the world in the number of patents approved, in scientific discovery, and innovation across a number of disciplines. Our higher education professionals are key to our standing, whether they are classroom teachers, experiential learning professionals, or student support and development professionals. Our regional and national competitive edge depends on our higher education sector.


Back to Top