Friday, October 04, 2002

Let me comment briefly on where the debate with Ravi has gone. A professor in the marketing department here has divulged her difficult story of a lawsuit filed against the university because she was in an unfair, discriminatory manner by a faculty committee. Ravi himself was the president of the union at the time of her troubles. She eventually settled for an apology and some money. (Because this blog is seen off campus, I am not putting her name here unless she gives permission, and I haven't asked her for it.)

Ravi has defended his position on this suggesting that the mediation process was not appropriate to her situation. Now another faculty member with extensive experience in labor-management issues has come forward and suggested that is flat wrong. He makes one very good point, IMO. We're not a normal union, in the sense that a faculty union has extensive management rights which would never occur in a more traditional union setting. Thus, it's pretty clear in the traditional setting where one draws the line between what goes into mediation and what goes into grievance -- though one can use the mediation process in an attempt to forgo the more costly, more contentious mediation process. But in our setting, there's broad gray areas all over the place, particularly over these places where unions take on management rights. (I hope I've done his point justice. I know he'll tell me if I'm wrong.)

That still leaves us, however, with the problem that since one cannot tell what goes to grievance and what doesn't, the union can use a dual-track approach to shop for its best outcome. I sat in a presentation last year where an assistant to the university president tried to show a flowchart saying where each type of issue gets handled. She had a good idea, but I don't see anyone willing to obey those rules. Fighting multiple fronts with other people's money is still a winner for the union. The flowchart will fall to ashes, I predict.