Category Archives: Education

Positive Collaboration: Beyond Labor Conflict and Labor Peace

Source: Richard Boris, Journal of Collective Bargaining in the Academy, Vol. 5, Article 1, 2013

From the abstract:
Institutions of higher education collectively constitute a major economic concentration that ranks—by whatever measure: resources, budgets, endowments, employees, constituencies—among the major industries in the United States. The unionized academic U.S. workforce ranks sixth among organized labor. Yet, when compared to the top-tier manufacturing industries of steel or automobile or to national unions such as the UAW or the Teamsters, both the public institutions of higher education and their academic unions lack national visibility, lack influence on national debates, and, most tellingly, lack major successes in the quest for public monies. Health care, the environment, energy policies, and the current global economic crisis drive both state and national discourse. Consequently, during the last two decades public funding—local, state, federal (including publicly guaranteed student loan debt)—for public institutions of higher education has diminished to the point that many if not most institutional budgets are dominated by non-public monies (student tuition, privately raised non-tax levy funds, grants, and gifts) and by savings achieved through use of cheap academic labor. Loss of public revenues demonstrates how politically impotent our public higher education institutions and their unions have become.

Collective Begging at Its Best: Labor-Management Relations in South Dakota

Source: Gary Aguiar, Journal of Collective Bargaining in the Academy: Vol. 5, Article 4, 2013

From the abstract:
Public employee labor unions in South Dakota possess a feeble set of bargaining rights, so weak it should be considered “collective begging.” However, our recent contract contains significant victories despite decades of playing defense. What lessons can be learned from this experience that might help other similarly situated faculty unions? What does this case study teach us about the disparity of power, especially where labor has fewer legal and political tools than management? I apply DiGiovanni’s (2011) typology of “intangible influences” on collective bargaining to explain our success. As DiGiovanni predicts, history and timing played a large role in influencing the outcome to labor’s advantage. In particular, the state’s rapid transformation of higher education from primarily undergraduate education to invest in research probably brought new participants into the negotiations process. After management imposed a contract, it seems likely that these outsiders pushed for a signed contract. Management was forced to concede on two issues to gain the single tool labor possessed: its signature on a collective bargaining agreement. Contrary to DiGiovanni, unrealistic expectations may have led to a positive labor outcome and an overly-combative labor leader did not prove poisonous.

Information Fuels Support for School Reform: Facts about local district performance alter public thinking

Source: Michael B. Henderson, William G. Howell, and Paul E. Peterson, Education Next, Vol. 14 no. 2, Spring 2014

From the press release:
Analysis of new survey data show that public perception on K-12 education is strongly influenced by the amount of information at hand. In fact, when made aware of their local district’s national ranking, the share assigning an “A” or “B” grade to the local schools falls by 11 percentage points. At the same time, opposition to teacher tenure increases by 8 percentage points, support for charter schools increases by 7 percentage points, and support for making school vouchers available to all families shoots upward by 13 percentage points.

The findings come from the latest survey of a nationally representative sample of the American public conducted under the auspices of Education Next by Professors Michael B. Henderson (University of Mississippi), William G. Howell (University of Chicago), and Paul E. Peterson (Harvard Kennedy School). The researchers told one randomly chosen group of respondents the national ranking of their local school district, while providing no such information to another randomly chosen group.

The shift in opinion occurs because people are shocked when they learn how poorly their own district ranks nationally, the authors say. …

Key survey findings include the following:
• Nearly two-thirds (64%) of Americans support common core standards, while only 13% oppose them. Those levels do not change significantly when respondents are told the national ranking of their local district.
• When respondents learn how their local schools rank nationally…
* the percentage of those giving the schools an “A” or a “B” on the traditional A to F grading scale drops 11 percentage points, from 49% to 38%;
* support for a proposal to make vouchers available to all families regardless of income jumps 13 percentage points, increasing from 43% to 56%, while opposition to the proposal declines from 37% to 25%;
* support for charter schools shifts upward from 51% to 58% when respondents learn the national rank of the local district, while opposition to charters declines from 26% to 23%;
* opposition to teacher tenure climbs 8 percentage points, from 47% to 55%, while support for tenure drops 8 points to 25%.
• When not informed about current teacher salary levels within their state, 55 percent of Americans favor a salary increase for teachers, and when respondents are told the national ranking of their local schools, that percentage rises slightly to 58%.
• However, when Americans are given information about current teacher salaries, support for higher salaries for teachers falls from 58% to 34%, an extraordinary decline of 24 percentage points.

Runaway Inequality at the University of California – How Students, Workers & Taxpayers Fund UC’s Executive Excess

Source: AFSCME Local 3299, January 2014

The University of California is one of the most prestigious systems of public higher education and health care delivery in the country, drawing students and patients from around the world. Yet in recent years, UC administrators have been increasingly criticized for adopting a culture of executive excess not befitting for a tax-supported, public institution. This culture not only runs counter to the University’s legacy as a land grant institution and California’s Master Plan for Higher Education, but it also contributes to a growing income inequality on UC campuses.

What emerges are the two faces of the University of California. On one hand, UC executives paid salaries that rival Fortune 500 companies. On the other, service workers forced to work one or two additional jobs to support themselves and their families. A growing income disparity also hits students and their families who have sustained unprecedented tuition increases in recent years. California taxpayers also pay for UC’s misguided priorities. As UC replaces career service jobs with temp jobs to offset executive excesses, it creates an increasingly vulnerable low-wage workforce forced to rely more and more on public assistance programs. …

The Top 10 Legislative Issues to Watch in 2014 / Plus six trending issues that could be big this year

Source: Ryan Holeywell, Liz Farmer, Mike Maciag, J.B. Wogan, Chris Kardish, Governing, Vol. 27 no. 4, January 2014

For states throughout the country this year, there’s a common theme: a climate of uncertainty coupled with a sense of genuine opportunity. Amid worries about the federal government’s failure to boost funding for infrastructure, many states are taking steps to produce that funding on their own. Congress seems to have stalled—again—in its efforts to reform the immigration system, but states are enacting bills designed to grant new rights to some of their undocumented residents. And after a period in which higher education programs faced dramatic cuts, states are putting money back into those programs—some of them more efficiently than in the past. Here are 10 big issues states will look to tackle in 2014, and six smaller ones they’ll also address. …

Medicaid … Income Tax Revision … Minimum Wage Laws … Public Pensions … Immigration … Safety Net … Higher Education … Employee Compensation … Transportation Funding … Drones …

Trending: 6 More Issues That Could Be Big

Abortion … Fracking … GMOs … Privacy … Social Impact Bonds … Autonomous Vehicles …

6 Policies to Combat Inequality

Source: Ben Olinsky, Center for American Progress, January 28, 2014

…As the consensus to build an economy that works for everyone and not just the wealthy grows, we believe that there are a few key policies that the president should call for that would begin to roll back income inequality in both the short and long term. While these policies by no means represent all that must be done to address inequality—such as protecting workers’ rights on the job, improving regulation of financial markets, and limiting the corrosive influence of money in politics, to name a few—they represent new, common-sense approaches that could enjoy broad support and help restore an economy that works for everyone.
1. Raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour…
2. Increase access to high-quality preschool…
3. Expand apprenticeships…
4. Offer universal paid family leave…
5. Allow Americans to refinance their student debt…
6. Improve retirement security….

Why Silence Is Not Enough / Business schools are failing to promote higher morals

Source: Michel Anteby, Stanford Social Innovation Review, SSIR blog, January 22, 2014

The question of business ethics—or lack thereof—has rarely been more salient than in the past decade or so. From Enron’s 2001 bankruptcy in light of massive accounting fraud to JP Morgan’s 2013 $13 billion settlement over dubious mortgage practices, major corporations have fallen under increased scrutiny. Given that many of the people running these and other enterprises were trained in top business schools, their training grounds would seem a natural place to address the problem. What can business schools do about this? A lot more than they have, I would argue, since many schools have historically been—and to a large extent still are—reluctant to take clear institutional normative stands. MBA programs endow their students with formidable technical and analytical skill sets, yet remain silent about what might be the larger purpose of their students’ pursuits.

I learned this firsthand as a rookie professor in one of the oldest business schools in the country, the Harvard Business School; on one occasion, I did not remain silent. When teaching a case that centered on a production line in a manufacturing plant, I once asked my students what the line manager’s worst fear might be. “A union,” one student retorted. By that, he meant a strike led by the union that would stop the line. I had not yet learned that the school expected silence of me in such circumstances. Instead, I stepped in and reminded my students of the pros of unions, making my bias fairly evident. The discussion proved harder to restart. …

…. Despite their innovative curricula and cutting-edge research, business schools remain old communities in new clothes. They reflect and uphold the norms of older elites. Silence therefore benefits the established order. By remaining silent on moral goals, business schools make it easier to ignore glaring social inequities. If gaining market share is seen as being as important as creating jobs, flagrant injustices are hard to pinpoint, let alone address…..

War-On-Poverty Debate Largely Ignores Employer Role

Source: Ellen Galinsky, Huffington Post, January 15, 2014

…When it is included, the private sector — the economy — is seen as locus of economic growth, providing jobs for low-income employee but the workplace itself is not depicted as an important player in reducing poverty. It is clear to me, from years of research on the low-income workforce that all four — governmental programs, the individual, the economy and the workplace — have to be seen as change engines.

It is the coworkers and supervisors who create an atmosphere of trust and respect in the workplace where low-income employees can prosper. It is the supervisors who provide specific help for low-income employees in succeeding on their job and who offer job assignments and training that enable low-income employees to learn, stretch and advance. It is the workplace policies or programs that enable low-income employees the flexibility to continue in school as well as to care for their families. It is the adequacy of employer-provided benefits.

Families and Work Institute’s National Study of the Changing Workforce investigated the aspects of the workplace that make a difference. They are:
• Adequate benefits
• Job autonomy
• Learning opportunities and challenges
• Supervisor support for job success
• Supervisor support for meeting personal and family needs
• Culture of respect and trust
• Workplace flexibility

These factors — what we call an Effective Workplace — may be largely absent from the broader discussions on the war of poverty but that’s a big mistake. Most are no cost, except for benefits; most can be easily implemented; and most help employers and employees alike in powerful ways. For example, they reduce the likelihood of stress and poorer health and increase the likelihood of job satisfaction, engagement, and retention — key issues when it comes to the low-income workforce. …