Thursday, March 21, 2013

Letter from Jerry Johnson

My support for the decertification of AFMSU is based on two central points: ineffectiveness of the organization and the polarization of the campus. Let me say at the outset I am not antiunion. On the contrary, I have belonged to labor unions in the past and fully support them when appropriate. Such is not the case with AFMSU.
When the unionization movement at MSU began, I made inquiries about the efficacy of the organization. I was, and remain, astounded how ill-defined and amorphous their goals are. I have never heard a clear evidence based strategy or platform for the organization. For me, this is a clear indictment of the lack of campus based leadership and vision that organize and maintain the union on a daily basis. For an organization that collects close to 1% of earnings from members, I would expect to see well-defined metrics that delineate the return on my investment. I don’t. 
On the AFMSU website they link to “membership benefits” page; a page celebrating travel discounts, credit cards, insurance programs, and investment programs to name a few. I would have expected substance and policy but can find no links to substantive policy. 
More problematic is the inherent polarization that results from the unionization of the faculty. In their literature, AFMSU members present themselves as members of the “tribe” with all the answers while those who are nonmembers as malcontents. Such framing of the differences only perpetuates discord between two factions that share similar interests. I see these divides in my own department and across campus. The polarization continues to other institutions including the faculty senate and campus administration. The widespread lack of enthusiasm for AFMSU is not constructive toward building a forward-looking campus. This is especially true given the growth estimates of our enrollment. Rather, the union is an impediment to effective campus wide communication. 
Many functional institutions exist across campus for faculty who would choose to be involved directly in university governance. AFMSU is simply not effective at doing so. 
Jerry Johnson
Dept of Political Science