Alternatives to collective bargaining: a study of private colleges and universities where unionization has been rejected



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Although unionism has been an important concern in public educational institutions since the 196O's, it is now becoming equally important to private institutions. The examination of pertinent literature reveals certain detrimental consequences of unionism, consideration of which may have provided the impetus for the rejection of collective bargaining at private colleges and universities. Therefore, the purpose of this study was, to examine the alternatives concerned with financial issues, governance issues and job security issues and to construct a model which will serve administrators as a means to establish alternatives to collective bargaining. Procedures A case study was used as the method of research in this dissertation. A questionnaire of 34 items was constructed to assess the alternatives in finance, governance and job security issues. This questionnaire was mailed to the chief academic affairs administrators at the 30 private four-year institutions where the faculty have rejected collective bargaining prior to December, 1975. The returned questionnaires were analyzed through data processing and interpreted descriptively through the use of frequency distributions and cross tabulation contingency tables. The statements were analyzed to find agreement, disagreement or uncertainty concerning how administrators perceived finance, governance and job security issues. Prior to the administration of this questionnaire, a pilot study was conducted. The questionnaire was given to selected administrators in higher education other than the 30 in the study. These experts reviewed the questionnaire and based on this feedback, a revised questionnaire was constructed and used as the final instrument for this study. Findings The final study population consisted of 28 chief academic affairs administrators, or 93.3% of the total population. The demographic analysis revealed that most of the institutions in this study were located in urban areas and most offered only the Bachelor's degree. Twenty institutions in this study have been in operation for 75 years or more, therefore; supporting previous research that the longer an institution is in operation, the more likely it is to reject unionization. Salaries and related issues were significant areas of concern for all the administrators in the study. The administrators did feel that their faculty wanted to participate in the decision-making process concerning salary issues and indicated that the actual process of decision-making is clear and available to all faculty. Actual gains in salary and/or merit pay did not damage the financial structures of all but one institution in this study. Concerning governance issues, these administrators viewed their organizational structures as relatively simple when compared to other colleges and universities and did not feel a need to establish new structures after the union defeat, except for some larger institutions and those offering the Doctorate. Much uncertainty was indicated concerning the possible increase of the economic and academic influence of faculty senates after union rejection. Job security was viewed as a major issue by all administrators surveyed. However, tenure was still considered a reliable instrument for insuring academic freedom. The greatest modification of tenure systems was predicted by administrators in institutions offering the Doctorate. One hundred percent of the administrators agreed that faculty be involved in the selection of new faculty members as a hiring procedure. Concerning the possibility of future representative elections and the possibility of union victories, the administrators surveyed strongly predicted no new representative elections or union victories if another election is held at their institutions. Conclusions In relationship to the stated purpose of the study, the following conclusions are presented: 1) The data presented support the conclusion that the salary and merit pay alternatives currently in operation since the rejection of collective bargaining have been established without damage to the financial structure of the institutions; 2) The data presented support the conclusion that the alternatives currently in operation since the rejection of collective bargaining concerned with the concept of shared governance, i.e., faculty senate functions, decision-making policies and collegiality are sufficient to make collective bargaining undesirable for the present as well as the future; 3) The data presented support the conclusion that the alternatives currently in operation since the rejection of collective bargaining which concern the job security issues, i.e., tenure, promotion and hiring policies as well as grievance procedures have been or are being established to provide efficient means for the expression of opinion and/or participation of both faculty and administration. Based upon the data and conclusions a model was constructed to serve administrators as a framework to establish an alternative to collective bargaining. The model deals with such issues as: salaries, merit pay, faculty expression and opinion, decision-making policies, the welfare of the institution, organizational structures, faculty participation in governance, external influence on faculty, methods of promotion and tenure, grievance and due process procedures and the selection of new faculty and department chairpersons.