Through a historical case study of the University of Wisconsin Teachers Union (American Federation of Teachers Local 223) this article considers the roles that early unionized faculty could play in influencing their institution without ever pursuing a contract. It argues that the Wisconsin local effectively used research and political power to improve conditions for instructional workers and to affect funding patterns across the institution. It did so while only ever attracting a minority of faculty to join. In addition to its important salary work, which was often focused on improving the conditions of the instructors and others at the lowest ranks, Local 223 addressed an array of educational and societal issues. As such, it had elements of what in the modern era might be considered social movement unionism, combining both efforts to aid members and activities designed for broader social change.
Influence without Bargaining: Unionization at the University of Wisconsin, 1930–1957
TIMOTHY REESE CAIN is an associate professor at the University of Georgia’s Institute of Higher Education, where he studies issues related to college students and faculty. He is the author of Establishing Academic Freedom (2012), Campus Unions (2017), and, with colleagues at the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment, Using Evidence of Student Learning to Improve Higher Education (2015). His current work includes considerations of student activism in the Deep South and a book project on the history of faculty unions.
PHILIP J. WILKINSON is a doctoral candidate at the University of Georgia’s Institute of Higher Education. His dissertation focuses on credit accumulation for undergraduate degree recipients. Recently he worked at the American Council on Education where he coauthored Innovative Leadership: Insights from the American College President Study 2017 (2018). He is currently working with the both the Family Involvement Laboratory and the Learning and Cognition Laboratory at the University of Maryland (College Park).
Timothy Reese Cain, Philip J. Wilkinson; Influence without Bargaining: Unionization at the University of Wisconsin, 1930–1957. Labor 1 May 2019; 16 (2): 99–122. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/15476715-7323758
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