The Metro Strategy of Higher Education Unions

by Stephanie S. Reich, Councilor-at-large

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While many of the attendees and panelists at the Collective Bargaining in Higher Education Conference were representing faculty in public higher education institutions, and in many cases, Berklee/BoCo Union is in a better position than many, (thank goodness we are NOT in a “Right to Work” state); there were takeaways to consider for BFU.

 

The panel on Challenges and Opportunities of the Metro-Strategy was led by Ann McLeer, Director of Higher Education SEIU Local 500. This panel presented its Consortium Model for vastly different public and private Maryland/DC colleges inside the beltway. The consortium model provides for collective representation of adjunct faculty since so many commute from one institution to another.

 

As I anticipated, the specifics of how the Maryland Metro Consortium works do not apply to Berklee, but the consortium model is a very appealing one we should consider in the Boston area. Perhaps better deals for faculty with health care providers, financial planning, and of course a strong united advocacy voice at the State House. When you think of it, Boston is a “college” town and a fiefdom of separate institutions admins that want us to stay balkanized.  We need better coordination with higher ed unions in the Boston area such as the SEIU, the AAUP, and of course our own colleagues in the AFT.

 

What I like about consortia is that its members can be disparate; but the cooperative framework gives more heft to the educator entity financially.  We already have a successful in-house model at Berklee: the Pro Arts Consortium, which works as a resource bank for students to cross register and also for faculty to share info and resources. Why not work together?

 

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