The Chronicle of Higher Education is reporting SB 5 to be possibly the most anti-faculty labor law… ever.

Inserted into the last minute Omnibus Amendment was language specifically dealing with higher education that, like much of the last-minute page dump, was unexpected and only fully processed after passage. Full time faculty have had their current duties redefined as managerial, and are therefore ineligible for any collective bargaining unless they give up what are typically seen as basic faculty rights. Part time faculty and graduate student employees would now recognized as potential bargaining units (something they’ve been fighting for), but apparently only so that the new SB 5 restrictions on things like striking will apply to them as well.

Earlier this week, Modern wrote a piece highly critical of a “charter university” proposal percolating up to the governor (interestingly enough, this proposal is following a similar proposal in Wisconsin with a week or two lag time – sound familiar?). I happen to disagree with much of what Modern wrote (state appropriations account for 12% of OSU’s budget, before an expected 20% reduction, meaning that OSU is already more like a non-profit receiving state assistance than a public entity), but I’m certainly wary of any proposal viewed favorably by both Scott Walker and Kasich.

For the record, I’m actually pretty confident that between deliberations in the House and conference committee, followed if necessary by a referendum, that Kasich will eventually be denied his anti-union law. But if I’m wrong, what I’d like to know is this: if the major research universities (U of C, OSU) were to become semi-independent, would SB5 no longer apply to their employees? In the short term, that sounds like a potentially positive thing, but would it actually represent a part of a long-term strategy to create synergy between the push for things like SB 1 (RobsOhio) and SB 5? For example, if Kasich proposed privatizing the state prison system, this would undoubtedly be opposed by labor… but would unions be so opposed if they knew that they would get their collective bargaining rights back under the privatization scheme?

I’m cynical enough to see this as a long-term strategy to get public unions to support privatization, and then break unions in the private sector, where history has shown it’s easier. Tell me I’m just channeling some inner Glenn Beck. Please.

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