03/03/2011 05:37 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Professors as Management? OK, Let's Take That Seriously

Ohio's Senate just passed legislation that would eliminate collective bargaining for public university faculty because they are now to be seen as management.

The legislation declares all public college faculty members who either "participate in decisions with respect to courses, curriculum, personnel, or other matters of academic or institutional policy" or, "individually or through a faculty senate or like organization, participate in the governance of the institution, are involved in personnel decisions, selection or review of administrators, planning and use of physical resources, budget preparation, and determination of educational policies related to admissions, curriculum, subject matter, and methods of instruction and research."

So, under this bill, which has yet to pass the state House of Representatives, I am now management in my university. Given that, I am tomorrow going to raise my and my fellow professors' salaries. I'm going to repay the forced furloughs days from last year. I am going to reduce class sizes, decrease tuition for the incoming 1st year class, and I think I'll also increase health benefits for all faculty and staff. In addition I'll add a few lounges to the university for commuting students, and I'm lowering the cost of meals in the student union.

Of course, the second I or any my fellow faculty members try to enforce some of these remedies, I'll be either laughed at or arrested. Why? Because the faculty of a university is not management. Yes, we can make changes to curriculum, but that's about it.

The notion that a faculty senate can make meaningful changes in any area relating to finances or physical resources is laughable. Most faculty senates debate endlessly issues that in the end are dropped toothlessly on the desks of administrators. And, the administrators, who are actually management, make the decisions.

If Ohio's law goes through, I recommend that university faculty abolish their own senates. Those deliberative bodies don't really do much, and without them the law could not argue that faculty use the senates in any managerial way.

The reality is that the Ohio senators who voted for this bill want one thing only -- to destroy the ability of faculty to bargain collectively. They know that faculty senates are weak and meaningless organizations, but faculty unions are where the power is. And that's the last in the world that this new breed of Republicans wants -- union power.