Some faculty members may have reservations about joining a union. Let’s address a few common questions that many have:
1. Louisiana is a “right-to-work” state, and it does not have a policy allowing collective bargaining with teachers. So what could LSUnited do for me? How could it improve my situation?
According to a 2010 study, based on a survey of 341 public universities,
• “Unionization greatly increases faculty influence over decision-making in areas such as setting faculty salary scales, individual faculty salaries, appointing department chairs, and appointments to institution-wide committees.”
• “Faculty unions [also] increase compensation through changing faculty workloads. “
• “Even if faculty at an institution cannot strike, administrators may still be wary of defying the union. Faculty can make life difficult for administrators without resorting to a strike . . . . The formation of a union indicates that faculty at an institution are very dissatisfied; some administrators would gladly make concessions to avoid outright hostilities between faculty and the administration.”
Furthermore, LSUnited, as an affiliate of the LAE, will have a permanent presence at the state capitol, employing both full-time and part-time lobbyists to monitor the legislative process continually and advocate for laws that support teachers. LSUnited gives you a voice in the Louisiana legislature. You will not have to hope that the LSU System President or the LSU Chancellor will speak for your interests.
2. Could I be fired immediately if I join LSUnited?
No. Under the law, which supports freedom of association, employers are not allowed to discriminate against or fire workers for choosing to join a union. This principle has recently been successfully upheld for higher education. Under the terms of an agreement approved in December 2010 by a National Labor Relations Board official, East-West University in Chicago has agreed to provide back pay and new job protections to five adjunct faculty members who were denied contract renewal last summer while leading an effort to unionize part-time faculty members there. (“Advocates of Adjunct Union at East-West U. Score a Big Win,” Peter Schmidt, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 12/20/2010; http://chronicle.com/article/Advocates-of-Adjunct-Union-at/125748/?sid=at&utm_source=at&utm_medium=en )
3. My salary is so low that I can’t afford union dues.
Your union dues are an investment that will have long-term benefits beyond the short-term cost of the dues. Furthermore, your “membership benefits” could actually offset the cost of your dues. When you join LSUnited, you also become a member of the National Education Association, which has 3.2 million members, and represents more than 200,000 higher education employees in public as well as private institutions nationwide. As a result, the NEA has negotiated extensive member benefits including
• NEA insurance packages (life, home, car, health, and long-term care) with sizable discounts
• NEA credit cards with a variety of reward options
• NEA loans (home financing, educational, and personal)
• Discounts (prescriptions, rental cars, travel, appliances, etc.)
Members who take advantage of these benefits gain savings that exceed their membership dues. (For a complete listing of member benefits, see http://www.neamb.com/home/home.htm)