This study analyzes attitudes towards faculty unions and collective bargaining among faculty and administrators in the United States and Canada. This is the first study which compares support for unionization and collective bargaining in American and Canadian universities among faculty members and administrators. The main research question is: Which factors are the determinants of attitudes towards faculty unions and collective bargaining in American and Canadian universities and colleges?
Our hypotheses are that cultural, institutional, political, positional, socio-economic, and academic factors are significant predictors of support for faculty unionization. The academics in Canada are likely to be more supportive of faculty unionism compared to their American counterparts because of differences in national political cultures. Institutional and political factors are also likely to affect such views. This study uses comparative and regression analyses of data from the 1999 North American Academic Study Survey to examine attitudes towards unions and collective bargaining among faculty and administrators in the United States and Canada.
The analysis shows that Canadian academics are more supportive of faculty unions and collective bargaining than their American counterparts. These results provide support to the political culture hypothesis. However, the study shows that institutional, political, positional, socio-economic and academic factors are also important in many cases. A faculty bargaining agent on campus is positively associated with favorable views of faculty unions and collective bargaining among American professors and with administrators’ support for collective bargaining in both countries. Administrators’ opposition is also important, in particular, for attitudes of Canadian faculty. Professors are more pro-union than administrators in both countries. Income, gender, race, age, religion, and academic field, are significant determinants of attitudes of faculty and administrators in the US and Canada in certain cases.
- political culture,
La présente étude porte sur l’opinion des membres des corps enseignants et des administrateurs à l’égard des syndicats d’enseignants et de la négociation collective au sein des universités américaines et canadiennes. Il s’agit de la première étude qui compare le soutien manifesté par les membres des corps enseignants et les administrateurs quant à la syndicalisation et la négociation collective dans les universités américaines et canadiennes. La principale question de recherche est la suivante : quels sont les facteurs déterminants des opinions à l’égard des syndicats d’enseignants et de la négociation collective au sein des universités et des collèges américains et canadiens?
Notre hypothèse est que les facteurs culturels, institutionnels, politiques, positionnels, socioéconomiques et scolaires sont d’importants indices permettant de mesurer l’appui apporté à la syndicalisation des corps d’enseignants. Les universitaires canadiens sont plus susceptibles d’être en faveur de la syndicalisation des enseignants comparativement à leurs homologues américains, en raison des différences entre les deux cultures politiques. Les facteurs institutionnels et politiques ont aussi probablement une incidence sur les opinions. L’étude comprend des analyses comparatives et de régression des données provenant du 1999 North American Academic Study Survey. Ces analyses portent sur l’opinion des membres des corps enseignants et des administrateurs américains et canadiens à l’égard des syndicats et de la négociation collective.
Elles démontrent que les universitaires canadiens appuient davantage les syndicats d’enseignants et la négociation collective que leurs homologues américains. De plus, les résultats confirment l’hypothèse émise sur la culture politique. Par contre, l’étude démontre que les facteurs institutionnels, politiques, positionnels, socioéconomiques et scolaires sont également importants dans de nombreux cas. La présence, sur le campus, d’un agent négociateur pour les corps enseignants est associée à des opinions favorables à l’égard des syndicats d’enseignants et de la négociation collective parmi les enseignants américains ainsi qu’à un soutien actif de la part des administrateurs à l’égard de la négociation collective, et ce, dans les deux pays. L’opposition des administrateurs est également importante, principalement au Canada, puisqu’elle a une incidence sur l’opinion des membres des corps enseignants. Dans les deux pays, les enseignants sont en général davantage en faveur des syndicats que les administrateurs. Dans certains cas, le revenu, le sexe, l’ethnie, l’âge, la religion et la discipline sont d’autres facteurs déterminants de l’opinion des enseignants et des administrateurs, tant aux États-Unis qu’au Canada.
- culture politique,
El presente estudio analiza las actitudes de administradores y facultades hacia los sindicatos universitarios y las negociaciones colectivas, en los Estados Unidos y el Canadá. Este es el primer estudio que compara, el apoyo a la sindicalización y a las negociaciones colectivas en el seno de las universidades estadounidenses y canadienses, entre administradores y la membresía de las facultades. La problemática principal es: ¿Qué factores son determinantes en las actitudes hacia los sindicatos universitarios y las negociaciones colectivas, en las universidades y centros de enseñanza superior de Estados Unidos y el Canadá?
Nuestras hipótesis son las siguientes: Los factores culturales, institucionales, políticos, posicionales, socio-económicos y académicos son indicadores significativos del apoyo a la sindicalización universitaria. Los académicos canadienses, comparados con sus pares estadounidenses, son más propensos a apoyar el sindicalismo universitario, debido a las diferencias existentes entre las dos culturas políticas nacionales. Factores institucionales y políticos pueden también incidir en esos puntos de vista. Este estudio utiliza el análisis de datos comparativos y regresivos de la Encuesta de los estudios académicos en América del Norte, de 1999, para examinar las actitudes hacia los sindicatos y negociaciones colectivas entre facultades y administradores en los Estados Unidos y el Canadá.
El análisis muestra que los académicos canadienses suelen apoyar más los sindicatos universitarios y las negociaciones colectivas que sus pares estadounidenses. Estos resultados contribuyen a sostener la hipótesis de la cultura política. No obstante, el estudio muestra que los factores institucionales, políticos, posicionales, socioeconómicos y académicos son también importantes en muchos casos. Un agente de negociación universitario es generalmente positivamente asociado en el campus con una visión favorable sobre los sindicatos universitarios y la negociación colectiva, entre los profesores estadounidenses, y con el apoyo de los administradores a las negociaciones colectivas, en ambos países. La oposición de los administradores es también importante, en particular, en las actitudes de las facultades canadienses. En ambos países los profesores son más favorables a los sindicatos que los administradores. En ciertos casos, los ingresos monetarios, el género, la raza, la edad, la religión y el campo académico son factores determinantes significativos de las actitudes de las facultades y de los administradores en los EE.UU. y el Canadá.
- cultura política,
Research Question and Previous Studies
Faculty unionization and collective bargaining in the United States and Canada have often been overlooked in studies of higher education even though unions and collective bargaining involve significant proportions of the professoriate in both countries. In 1998, 48.8 percent of faculty members in Canada were union members (Akyeampong, 1999: 52). By the middle of the 2000s, an estimated union membership rate among Canadian faculty was about 80 percent. In addition, most of the faculty associations which represent the rest of the faculty are involved in bargaining with the university administration (Dobbie and Robinson, 2008: 131-132).
The unionization rate of professors in the United States is much lower. In 1998, 20.7 percent of full time faculty and academic staff, including 26.8 percent in public two- and four-year colleges and universities, were members of a union or an association that served as their bargaining agent (Benjamin, 2006: 35). In 2004, collective bargaining covered 27.4 percent of American full-time and part-time faculty, including 20.7 percent in public four-year colleges and universities, 5.0 percent in four-year private schools, and 57.0 percent in two-year public community colleges (Dobbie and Robinson, 2008: 123).
This study examines attitudes towards faculty unions and collective bargaining among faculty and administrators in the United States and Canada. Indeed, it is the first study which compares support for unionization and collective bargaining in American and Canadian universities among faculty members and administrators. The United States and Canada are selected for comparison because these two neighbouring countries have relatively more similar higher education systems, political systems, and levels of economic development than other countries. There is a lack of private universities in Canada, but the public university systems on both sides of the border are organized in similar ways, they expanded about the same time, and there is a lot of cross-border traffic, e.g. there is a large proportion of US-born and US-educated professors in Canada. Academics in both countries face many similar issues. Unionization and collective bargaining in universities in both the US and Canada took hold at about the same time, the 1960s (DeCew, 2003; Ladd and Lipset, 1973; Savage, 1994). Furthermore, the World Values Survey data show that when it comes to “values,” Canada and the US are more alike than any two other advanced industrial states, and their values are converging (Nevitte, 1996). These features make these two neighbouring countries particularly good cases for comparison when it comes to the issue of unionism (Lipset, 1990; Lipset et al., 2004; Riddell, 1993).
Comparative studies of collective bargaining in higher education and faculty unions in the US and Canada are rare. Previous analyses of these issues typically focused on a single country (see, for example, Ladd and Lipset, 1973, 1975; Monks, 2000; Nakhaie and Brym, 1999; Ng, 1989; Ponak and Thompson, 1979, 1984; Ponak, Thompson and Zerbe, 1992; Thompson and Ponak, 1983). A recent comparative study reported significantly higher faculty union membership rate and collective bargaining coverage in Canada than in the US (Dobbie and Robinson, 2008). However, its main focus was an analysis of the effects of faculty unions on the extent of reliance on non-tenure track faculty.
The primary question of interest is, which factors are the determinants of attitudes towards faculty unions and collective bargaining in American and Canadian universities and colleges? We hypothesize on a theoretical basis and on the basis of previous studies that a variety of cultural, institutional, political, positional, socio-economic, and academic factors are significant predictors of these views.
Previous comparative studies of American and Canadian unionism emphasize different theories and factors of the divergent union membership rates in these two countries. For example, some argue that political culture is the main determinant of the union density gap. Political culture leads to a greater demand for unionization north of the border, and it also accounts for more union friendly legal and political institutions, such as laws and political parties, in Canada compared to the United States. In particular, national values are one of the major reasons for the absence of strong social-democratic parties in the US, compared to Canada (Lipset, 1986, 1996; Lipset and Marks, 2001; Lipset et al., 2004). In contrast, others argue that institutional and political factors drive the divergence, while political culture has comparably little explanatory power (Bruce, 1989; Riddell, 1993; Robinson, 1992, 2006). However, we propose that these theories and factors need not be mutually exclusive, and that political culture, institutions, and administrator opposition can all affect faculty unionism in the US and Canada.
Our first hypothesis is that national political culture is a significant determinant of attitudes toward faculty unionism and collective bargaining in the United States and Canada. A substantial body of research suggests that Canadians share more social-democratic and collectivist values, while Americans exhibit higher levels of support for individualist and laissez faire values. The values-based theories are used to explain, for example, an absence of a strong social-democratic party, a smaller size of government, and a lower union density in the US than in Canada. Similarly, US-Canada differences in foreign policies, economic policies, health-care systems, and attitudes towards social issues are linked to distinct political, economic, and social values in the two countries (Adams, 2004; Alston, Morris, and Vedlitz, 1996; Lipset, 1990; Lipset et al., 2004).
However, political culture is not frozen. Values change, albeit slowly. Economic development, transition from industrial to post-industrial society, globalization, immigration, economic integration, and other such factors have induced changes in values in the United States and Canada. A comparison of the World Values Survey data shows a general trend towards convergence between Canadian and American values (Inglehart, Nevitte and Basanez, 1996). Although a more detailed analysis indicates convergence of economic values, a mixed pattern of change of political values, and divergence of social values (Nevitte, 1996). Other survey data also indicate that the social values of Americans and Canadians are diverging (Adams, 2004).
Pro-union attitudes of academics in the US and Canada are likely to reflect the pattern of differences in national political cultures. If the historical record is any guide then these are reasons to expect that Canadian faculty and administrators will hold much more supportive attitudes concerning unions and collective bargaining in the institutions of higher education than their American counterparts. A survey-based comparison of union density and attitudes towards unions in the United States and Canada linked differences in union membership rates, in particular, among professors and other professionals in two countries to political culture (Lipset et al., 2004). The finding that Americans, including professionals, such as professors and teachers, express greater support for unions than their Canadian counterparts is explained by the weakness of labour unions south of the border (Lipset et al., 2004; Lipset and Katchanovski, 2001). That investigation of faculty unionization and attitudes, however, relied upon a small number of professors in the national samples of Americans and Canadians.
Values concerning fundamental political issues, such as the role of the government, equality and income distribution, are likely to be of much greater importance for attitudes towards the American and Canadian faculty unionism than values concerning social issues, such as religion, family and abortion. For example, the social-democratic index, which was derived from survey questions dealing with such political issues, was found to positively affect union membership in the US (Lipset and Katchanovski, 2001). However, survey evidence indicates that social conservatism might also have significant effects (Ponak and Thompson, 1979). Political and social liberalism is strongly associated with pro-union attitudes of faculty members in the US and Canada (Ladd and Lipset, 1973; Ponak and Thompson, 1984). As noted, several studies suggest that US-Canada cultural differences concerning social issues are more pronounced compared to differences concerning political issues (Adams, 2004; Inglehart, Nevitte and Basanez, 1996; Nevitte, 1996). Therefore, we differentiate the effects of political and social values in our analysis.
Values often vary significantly within each country across different regions, generations, socio-economic and racial or ethnic groups (Adams, 2004; Inglehart, Nevitte and Basanez, 1996; White, 2003). Regional political subcultures in both countries are likely to affect attitudes towards faculty unionism. The historical South is often regarded as politically and socially more conservative and more hostile toward unions than other regions of the United States. In Canada, Quebec is the most politically distinctive region. In addition to being predominantly francophone, Quebec led the way in adopting labour-supportive legislation and having the highest union density among major Canadian regions (Lipset, 1996: 88-96; Lipset et al., 2004: 103-117).
Political culture cannot by itself explain the magnitude of divergence in union membership rates, in particular among faculty members in the US and Canada. The cultural theory of the unionism gap has a difficult time accounting for somewhat more friendly public attitudes towards labour unions in the United States than in Canada. Previous studies show that the percentage of American workers who want union representation is several times higher than the union membership rate. Thus, the US-Canada differences in the overall demand for union membership are much smaller than the variation in the union density, and, in some studies, are insignificant. In addition, the large-scale divergence of union densities in the two countries began only since the 1960s (Bruce, 1989; Freeman and Rogers, 1999/2006; Lipset et al., 2004; Riddell, 1993; Robinson, 1992, 2006).
Institutional and political factors are also likely to affect faculty unionism in the US and Canada. Many previous studies linked higher union density in Canada compared to the US to differences in legal, political, and economic institutions which frustrate demand of the majority of American workers who want to join unions. The most important of these factors include legal institutions and the managerial opposition. There are much greater legal hurdles for unionization, particularly in the case of faculty unions, in the US compared to Canada, which has more union-friendly legislation (Bruce, 1989; Riddell, 1993). For example, a ruling by the Supreme Court in the 1980 case of National Labor Relations Board v. Yeshiva University basically excluded faculty members in private universities from collective bargaining (DeCew, 2003).
While American states and Canadian provinces have authority over labour-related legislation, the power of the federal government in this regard is much more extensive in the US (Taras, 1997). Because of the differences in the judicial and party systems, Canadian social-democratic parties, such as the New Democratic Party and the Parti Québécois, had opportunity to promote labour-friendly legislation in provinces in which they were in power or represented strong opposition (Bruce, 1989; Meltz, 1989; Taras, 1997). Labour legislation and labour-friendly political parties were linked to interstate and interprovincial variations in the union membership rates. For example, states with right-to-work laws have generally the lowest union density in the US (Meltz, 1989).
Experience with faculty unions and collective bargaining is also likely to affect attitudes towards these issues. Several survey-based studies show that the presence of a certified faculty union had a positive impact on views of faculty unions and collective bargaining by professors in Canada (Nakhaie and Brym, 1999; Ponak and Thompson, 1984). Some previous studies also identified such predictors of attitudes towards unionism as institutional quality and institutional type (Ladd and Lipset, 1973, 1975).
Administrator opposition is likely to affect faculty attitudes towards unionism and collective bargaining. Several previous studies noted that managerial hostility to unions is stronger in the US than in Canada (see, for example, Riddell, 1993). However, some survey-based studies found that the views of managers on this issue are similar in both countries, or American managers are even somewhat less hostile to unions compared to their Canadian counterparts (Lipset et al., 2004; Taras, 1997).
Previous studies indicated that a number of academic factors, such as academic discipline, faculty achievement level, and tenure status, are related to faculty outlooks toward unions in higher education systems in the US and Canada. Faculty members in the humanities and the social sciences, both in the United States and Canada, are much more pro-union than their counterparts in the natural sciences, engineering, and business (Ladd and Lipset, 1973; Nakhaie and Brym, 1999: 340-341; Ponak and Thompson, 1979). The significant variation in attitudes towards faculty unions across academic fields is attributed to different disciplinary subcultures and self-selection of faculty members (Ladd and Lipset, 1973, 1975).
Professional status is also associated with lower levels of support for unionization among the American and Canadian professoriate. Survey-based studies demonstrate that higher achieving faculty and faculty members in top tier universities and doctoral schools in the US and Canada were significantly less pro-union compared to their lower achieving counterparts and faculty in lower tier and non-doctoral schools. Professors with higher levels of achievement and who teach at higher status universities are perhaps potentially more affected by the egalitarian positions of unions than their colleagues with lower status (DeCew, 2003: 13-14; Ladd and Lipset, 1973, 1975, 1976; Nakhaie and Brym, 1999; Ponak and Thompson, 1984). Similarly, some studies suggest that non-tenure track and tenure-track faculty members in the United States were more supportive of unionization than were tenured faculty (Dobbie and Robinson, 2008; Elmuti and Kathawala, 1991; Ladd and Lipset, 1973).
Socio-economic factors, such as income, gender, religious background, age, and race, are reported in previous studies to affect faculty attitudes towards unionism. Lower paid faculty members in the US and Canada were more likely than their higher paid counterparts to favor unionization and collective bargaining (Dworkin and Lee, 1985; Elmuti and Kathawala, 1991; Ladd and Lipset, 1973; Ponak and Thompson, 1979, 1984). Class background also seems to matter in the US and Canada. Professors whose fathers were blue-collar workers were more supportive of faculty collective bargaining (Ladd and Lipset, 1973: 37-38; Nakhaie and Brym, 1999: 340-341).
There is also evidence indicating that female professors, both in the United States and Canada, are more supportive of faculty unions and collective bargaining than their male counterparts (Dworkin and Lee, 1985; Elmuti and Kathawala, 1991; Nakhaie and Brym, 1999). Women are also more supportive of welfare state structures and are more liberal in general. They might use equality protections offered by the unions and the welfare state to overcome historical discrimination and achieve equal status and equal pay (Inglehart and Norris, 2003; Nakhaie and Brym, 1999).
Catholic faculty members in both countries were more inclined than their Protestant counterparts to support faculty unionism. Furthermore, Jewish professors were significantly more pro-union than Catholics in the United States, but not in Canada (Ladd and Lipset, 1973: 38-39; Nakhaie and Brym, 1999: 340-341). Age was positively associated with pro-union attitudes among faculty in the United States, but age turns out not to be a significant predictor of pro-union inclinations among the Canadian professoriate (Ladd and Lipset, 1973; Nakhaie and Brym, 1999: 340).
The available systematic evidence providing insights about the academic cultures north and south of the US-Canadian border relies almost exclusively on data gathered from faculty members at random samples of institutions in both countries. Given the relatively cosmopolitan and mobile nature of the professoriate, and their unique institutional positions, there are reasons to be cautious in attributing cross national differences between these groups to “political culture.” Clearly, administrators in these same institutions may hold quite different interests and outlooks; outlooks that might be attributable to their different positions. Anecdotal evidence suggests that administrators often oppose faculty unionization, because they view unions and collective bargaining as encroaching on their positions and creating adversarial relations on campus (DeCew, 2003: 66-71). Anecdotal evidence, however, is not a reliable foundation for generalizations, and we specifically examine such differences between faculty and administrators that stem from their distinct positions. The following analysis relies on a unique body of survey data that allows us to explore systematically the outlooks of faculty and administrators on these questions.
Data and Methodology
This study uses data from the 1999 North American Academic Study Survey (NAAS) to analyze attitudes towards unions and collective bargaining among faculty and administrators in the United States and Canada. Although this survey was conducted in 1999-2000, it remains to the best of our knowledge, the newest national survey of attitudes of faculty and administrators towards faculty unionism in both the US and Canada. Other surveys are either much older, only include one of these groups of respondents, examine one country, or are based on a sample of selected universities or colleges (Dworkin and Lee, 1985; Elmuti and Kathawala, 1991; Ladd and Lipset, 1973, 1975; Monks, 2000; Nakhaie and Brym, 1999; Ng, 1989; Odewahn and Spritzer, 1976; Ponak and Thompson, 1979, 1984; Ponak, Thompson and Zerbe, 1992; Thompson and Ponak, 1983).
Because attitudes can change since this survey was conducted in 1999-2000, this study does not claim to reflect precisely the current views towards faculty unionism in the United States and Canada. However, the attitudes of faculty and administrators towards faculty unions and collective bargaining in the US and Canada were unlikely to undergo a radical transformation since that time. For example, survey data show that the general pattern of US-Canadian differences in union approval among the general population remained stable from 1941 to 2001, with some exceptions that fell within a statistical margin of error. Many key determinants of attitudes towards unionism among professionals in the US remained the same since the 1960s (Lipset et al., 2004: 2-3, 118-144).
The Angus Reid (now Ipsos Reid) administered this telephone survey in both countries in 1999-2000. The US sample was stratified by institution type according to the Carnegie classifications of Doctoral, Comprehensive, and Liberal Arts schools. Within each stratum, the schools were randomly selected from the entire universe of qualified institutions with probability of selection proportional to size. The survey in the US includes 1644 faculty members and 808 administrators.
The Canadian sample was also stratified by type, and the sample was distributed across these strata according to their relative share of the Canadian university student population. Within the strata (i.e. at the school level), the Canadian sample was distributed proportional to each institution’s population. All schools from the Doctoral strata (15 of 15), all but one (12 of 13) Comprehensive school, and 8 out of 24 Liberal Arts schools were included in the Canadian sample. The sample in Canada includes 1514 faculty members and 280 administrators. Sixteen percent of the respondents among all Canadian faculty and 65 percent in Quebec are francophone. Twenty percent of administrators in the Canadian sample, including 68 percent in Quebec, are native French-speakers.
The 1999 NAAS Survey includes universities and four-year colleges, but it does not cover community colleges in the US and equivalent institutions in Canada. This is a limitation of our study because, as noted, in the United States, a much higher proportion of faculty in community colleges than in liberal arts colleges and universities are covered by collective bargaining.
The survey includes full-time tenured, tenure-track, and non-tenure track teaching faculty in both the US and Canada. Part-time adjunct faculty in the US and seasonal instructors in Canada are not included. Part-time faculty members are difficult to survey, and many of them have non-academic jobs. Although their numbers have been growing rapidly in both countries, part-time faculty members have much less influence over key aspects of university work, compared to full-time professors. As of 2004, part-time faculty members, excluding graduate student instructors, represented a minority (about one third) of all faculty in four-year colleges and universities in the US and Canada. The same applies to graduate student instructors who were also not covered by this survey (Dobbie and Robinson, 2008: 123, 126).
Attitudes towards collective bargaining and faculty unionism are measured using a variety of questions probing such issues as: opposition to collective bargaining by faculty members in a college or university, the role of collective bargaining in protecting the interests of the faculty, and the effects of faculty unions on academic life.
The analysis begins with a bivariate examination of national and positional differences among faculty and administrators on different questions concerning faculty unionism and collective bargaining. Because Canadian universities are public, the controlled comparisons focus on respondents from public American colleges. The investigation then turns to multivariate analysis to determine whether the same (or different) factors affect support for collective bargaining and faculty unionism in both countries. Responses to the collective bargaining in the faculty interests question and the faculty unionism question are reversed so that higher values signify pro-union attitudes.
The independent variables measure different cultural, institutional, political, socio-economic, and academic factors which we expect to affect the attitudes towards faculty unionism and which were discussed in the previous section. These variables are selected both for theoretical reasons and because previous research has shown that they are significant determinants of support for faculty unions and collective bargaining.
The political ideology index and the social ideology index quantify cultural orientations in respect of important political and social issues. These indexes are derived with the help of a factor analysis of similar types of questions that were used in several previous survey-based studies of unionism and had significant effects (Ladd and Lipset, 1973; Lipset and Katchanovski, 2001; Ponak and Thompson, 1979). The political ideology index includes three questions that measure respondent views on political issues: “The government should work to ensure that everyone has a job”; “Government should work to reduce the income gap between rich and poor”; and “More environmental protection is needed, even if it raises prices or costs jobs”. Scale reliability coefficient (alpha) is 0.59. The social ideology index includes the following three items that measure respondents’ views on various social issues: “Homosexuality is as acceptable a lifestyle as heterosexuality”; “It is a woman’s right to decide whether or not to have an abortion”; and “It is alright for a couple to live together without intending to get married”. Factor analysis produces a single factor solution. Scale reliability coefficient (alpha) is 0.78. Higher values of the political and social ideology indexes mean more liberal beliefs.
The South and Quebec dummy variables are proxies for the most distinct regional subcultures. Institutional and political factors are quantified with the help of the following variables: faculty bargaining on campus, union density, administrators’ opposition, institutional quality, program type, and type of university. The faculty bargaining on campus is a dummy variable which denotes a presence of a faculty union or another bargaining agent, such as a faculty association, at each university. The union density variable serves as a proxy for the level of provincial and state institutional support for unionism. The administrators’ opposition variable measures the level of opposition to faculty unionism in each university. It is derived from a factor analysis of administrator responses to three questions concerning faculty unions and collective bargaining in the 1999 NAAS Survey.
The institutional quality index in the US is based on US News rankings of universities and colleges. A similar index in Canada is based on the ranking of universities by Macleans. We modified the US News ranking by placing “national” universities and colleges in tiers 1 through 4 and all “regional” institutions in tiers 5-8, and then collapsing eight tiers into four categories. Similarly, Macleans’ rankings are transformed into four tiers. These modified rankings provide comparable measures of the level of quality of universities and four-year colleges in the US and Canada. The index is recoded so that a higher score means higher quality. The institutional quality index ranges from 0 to 1.
Socio-economic factors such as household income, gender, race, immigration status, religion, and age are included in the multivariate setup, as are academic factors such as academic discipline, faculty achievement, and tenure status. Professors from disciplines such as business, architecture, engineering, and communication comprise a category of “high professionals.” The “low professionals” field includes faculty in disciplines such as nursing, education, and social work. The academic achievement index, which is created with the help of factor analysis, focuses on research productivity of faculty members. It includes the following questions from the 1999 North American Academic Study Survey: “Within the past five years, and counting anything now in press, how many articles, if any, have you published in refereed journals, or as chapters in academic books?”; “Again, within the past five years, and counting anything now in press, how many books, if any, have you authored or co-authored?”; “Have you served on the editorial board of an academic journal?”; “How often, if at all, do you attend the international meetings of your discipline?”; and “All things considered, what percentage of your working time would you say you spend on research?” The reliability coefficient (alpha) of the index is 0.69.
The initial bivariate analysis of the 1999 North American Academic Study Survey data shows that national differences outweigh differences between faculty and administrators on the question of importance of collective bargaining to protect faculty interests. Sixty two percent of American faculty members in public colleges and universities, compared to 86 percent of Canadian faculty members, agree that collective bargaining is important to protect the interests of the faculty. Administrators show the same cross-border pattern even though they express much less support on this dimension (27 percent in the US and 72 percent in Canada) (see Table 1).
Similarly, Canadian administrators and faculty members turn out to be more pro-union than their counterparts in public higher education institutions in the United States on the issue of the effects of faculty unions on academic life. But on this attitudinal dimension, positional differences are more striking than the cross-national differences. American and Canadian faculty members (42 and 35 percent respectively) are much less likely to agree than their administrator co-nationals (70 percent and 57 percent respectively) that faculty unions are divisive (Table 1).
Responses to the direct question concerning opposition to faculty collective bargaining on campus are more mixed. Twenty five percent of American faculty members in public universities, compared to 15 percent of Canadian professors, agree that collective bargaining by faculty members has “no place in a college or university.” Fifty three percent of administrators in public higher education institutions in the US, compared to 24 percent of Canadian administrators, express the same view.
The 1999 NAAS Survey shows that the percentage of American faculty members who were covered by collective bargaining in four-year institutions of higher education and included in the survey (22 percent) is significantly below the demand for such bargaining. At least two-fifth of the professors in public schools and half of the professors in private schools were not able to fulfill their demand for collective bargaining. In contrast, the proportion of Canadian professors covered by collective bargaining (88 percent) was close to the percentages of the faculty respondents saying that collective bargaining has place in a college or university (84 percent) or that collective bargaining is important to protect the interests of the faculty (86 percent) (see Table 1).
Multivariate analysis yields more nuanced findings. Clearly, some factors have similar effects on pro-union attitudes of faculty members in both the US and Canada, while other factors have different effects in the two countries. Positions on the political ideology index, which assigns higher values to more liberal ideological beliefs concerning political economy issues, have a strong positive effect on the faculty’s attitudes towards both collective bargaining and unionization. The social ideology index, which focuses on social issues, such as attitudes towards abortion and homosexuality, is also positively associated with attitudes towards faculty unions, but its effect is less significant compared to political ideology (Table 2).
Faculty and administrators in the South do not differ significantly from other US regions in their views on unionism and collective bargaining. In contrast, professors in Quebec view the effects of faculty unions in a much more positive way compared to other provinces.
Among institutional and political factors, faculty bargaining on campus, administrator opposition, and institutional quality are in many cases statistically significant determinants of faculty attitudes towards unionism and collective bargaining. For example, the quality of schools in which faculty teach is inversely related to pro-union support. But there are also US-Canada differences. Presence of a faculty union or another bargaining agent on campus elicits greater support for faculty unions and collective bargaining in the United States, but not in Canada. Conversely, administrator opposition has more consistent effects on faculty attitudes in Canada than in the US.
Household income is negatively associated with pro-union attitudes. The effects of other socio-economic variables, such as age, gender, and religion, exhibit cross-national variation. Age is negatively associated with American professors’ support for faculty unions and collective bargaining. By contrast, age is a statistically insignificant determinant of the pro-union attitudes of Canadian professors on three of the questions concerning faculty unions and collective bargaining.
Female faculty members in Canada are more supportive of collective bargaining and unions than their male counterparts. Gender is a statistically significant predictor only in the Canadian sample. Similarly, Jewish faculty members in the US are more supportive of collective bargaining, while the effect of the Jewish variable in Canada is statistically insignificant in all cases in the faculty sample. Protestant professors are less pro-union on the faculty unionism question in Canada, and they are less likely to express views that collective bargaining is in the faculty interest in the US. Black professors are more supportive of collective bargaining in the United States, but not in Canada. In contrast, Black faculty members are less pro-union in Canada (see Table 2).
Faculty in high professions and sciences are the least supportive of collective bargaining and unions on campus. These variables are statistically significant on all three dimensions of the pro-union attitudes in both the United States and Canada. Academic achievement level is negatively related to support for collective bargaining in universities in the Canadian faculty sample.
The regression analysis shows that there are no statistically significant differences in attitudes of tenured and non-tenure track professors towards faculty unionism and collective bargaining in the US. In contrast, non-tenure track faculty members in Canada are less supportive of unionism and collective bargaining compared to their tenured counterparts. Similarly, tenure-track professors north of the US-Canada border are more negatively disposed towards faculty unionism and collective bargaining than the tenured faculty (Table 2).
Many of the same variables which have statistically significant effects on faculty attitudes also tend to predict administrator attitudes toward collective bargaining and faculty unionism (see Table 3). Clearly, political ideology has a strong positive effect on the pro-union support This variable is statistically significant in all instances in both the US and Canada. Social ideology is a statistically significant determinant of administrator support for collective bargaining in American and Canadian universities, but in the case of attitudes towards faculty unions, this variable is a statistically significant predictor only among US administrators.
The pattern of the US-Canada differences of faculty and administrator positions on the political ideology and social ideology is consistent with the political culture hypothesis. Canadian academics are more liberal than their American counterparts. However, the magnitude of the national differences is not very large, and views of faculty and administrators in both countries tend towards more liberal orientations concerning political and social issues. The mean score of Canadian professors on the political ideology index is .75, compared to .69 of American faculty members. Canadian and American administrators scores are, respectively, .76 and .67 on this index. Similarly, the faculty (.84) and administrators (.85) in the United States are more conservative on the social ideology index, compared to their counterparts in Canada (.92 and .91, respectively).
Presence of faculty union or another bargaining agent on campus is positively associated with administrator support for collective bargaining in both countries. Institutional quality also matters when it comes to outlooks towards collective bargaining in Canada. Administrators at better quality universities are less supportive of faculty collective bargaining than their counterparts in lower quality schools.
The impact of income is negative in all regressions in the US, while this factor is statistically significant only in one instance in Canada. In contrast to the case of faculty, the gender variable is a statistically insignificant predictor of administrators’ attitudes on all three questions in both the US and Canada. As with the case of faculty respondents, determinants of pro-union attitude among administrators differ in many instances in the United States and Canada. For example, this is the case with socio-economic factors, such as age and Protestant and Jewish religious preferences. The same applies to administrators who hold teaching or research appointments (Table 3).
Class background, defined by occupation of the respondent’s father, has no statistically significant effect on support for faculty unionism and collective bargaining among professors and administrators in the US and Canada. Similarly, differences in pro-union attitudes among American faculty members and administrators in public versus private colleges and universities are not statistically significant (Tables 2 and 3).
This paper has employed the 1999 North American Academic Study Survey data to examine the role of cultural, institutional, political, positional, socio-economic, and academic factors in shaping attitudes of American and Canadian faculty and administrators towards faculty unions and collective bargaining in four-year colleges and universities. A major contribution of this study comes from the directly comparative and cross-national analysis of two matched groups: faculty members and administrators. With a few exceptions, previous studies of faculty unionism focused on attitudes of professors in either the US or Canada, and they neglected administrators.
Analysis of the 1999 NAAS Survey results shows that Canadian faculty members and administrators are more supportive of faculty unions and collective bargaining than their American counterparts. These results render support to the political culture hypothesis, which links stronger backing for faculty unions in Canada compared to the US to differences in values in both countries. Although they are significant, political culture differences cannot fully explain the large gaps in the union density and the collective bargaining coverage among faculty members in the United States and Canada. The national variation in the ideological orientations is consistent with the political culture theory, but its magnitude is not very large.
This study shows that other factors, particularly institutional, political, and positional factors, affect support for faculty unionism in the US and Canada. The presence of a faculty union or another bargaining agent, such as a faculty association, on campus is positively associated with favourable views of faculty unions and collective bargaining among American professors and with administrator support for collective bargaining in both countries. Administrator opposition is also an important determinant, especially in the case of the attitudes of Canadian faculty members.
As one would expect, professors in the United States and Canada are more pro-union than administrators. Some factors, such as political ideology and academic field, have similar effects on the attitudes of faculty and administrators in both the US and Canada. By contrast, many other factors, such as gender, religion, region, race, age, differ in their effects in the United States and Canada. In particular, female professors in Canada are more supportive of collective bargaining and unions than their male counterparts, while the gender differences are statistically insignificant in the United States.
This study suggests that both political culture and institutions are important determinants of the divergence in faculty union membership rates and the extent of collective bargaining coverage in American and Canadian universities. However, the analysis focused on the demand-side aspects of the issue. Supply-side factors, such as legal and political institutions and administrator hostility, are major obstacles to faculty unionization and collective bargaining in the US. However, political culture might also contribute to these institutional reasons for the current relative weakness of faculty unionism south of the border, because it is one of the factors responsible for less union-friendly laws, political parties, and university administrators in the United States compared to Canada.
The 1999 North American Academic Study Survey shows that in spite of weaker support for faculty unions and collective bargaining among American faculty and administrators, compared to their Canadian counterparts, there is an untapped potential for the expansion of faculty unionism in the United States. The proportion of full-time American faculty members who favour unionization greatly exceeds the union membership rate and the collective bargaining coverage in US universities. Thus, this analysis found that faculty encounters a similar kind of a representation gap that was reported by previous studies on unionism in the US.
This study suggests a need for further research of faculty unionism in the United States and Canada. In particular, it would be beneficial to examine in future surveys whether attitudes of groups, such as faculty in American community colleges and similar schools in Canada, and part-time faculty, are similar or distinct from those of full-time faculty in universities and four-year colleges. The 1999 NAAS Survey did not include professors at two-year colleges and part-time professors. But they represent sizable segments of the faculty. Since the union membership rate of community college faculty in the US far exceeds that of four-year institutions and is closer to the faculty unionization rate in Canada, such an analysis might shed additional light on the factors behind the US-Canada differences, in particular, by highlighting factors that produce such a large variation among these categories of the American faculty.
We would like to thank anonymous reviewers for their comments and suggestions concerning this study and Raul Colon for his Spanish translation of the summary. Responsibility for any mistakes remains our own.
In addition to the American Federation of Teachers, the American Association of University Professors and the National Education Association act as collective bargaining agents for faculty members in many universities and colleges in the US (DeCew, 2003; Hutcheson, 2000). The Canadian Association of University Teachers undertakes similar functions (Savage, 1994). There are many other unions which represent non-tenure track and part-time faculty and graduate instructors in the US and Canada.
There are a handful of denominational institutions offering undergraduate degrees. But 98 percent of all students enrolled in degree granting institutions are in the public system. The 1999 NAAS Survey shows that 12 percent of faculty members in Canada were born in the US, while 28 percent of Canadian faculty received their highest degree in American universities.
A survey of registered nurses in the US and Canada produced a similar pattern of attitudes towards collective bargaining (Ponak and Haridas, 1979).
There is lack of recent survey-based studies of attitudes of administrators towards faculty unionism and collective bargaining.
Full-time non-tenure track faculty comprise 13 percent of the respondents, who specified their tenure status, in the US sample and 6 percent in the Canadian sample. The fact that the 1999 NAAS Survey included only full-time teaching faculty members and excluded faculty in research positions can account for the smaller proportions of non-tenure track faculty in both samples compared to the statistical reports (see, for, example, data reported in Dobbie and Robinson, 2008: 123, 126).
The dependent and independent variables are recoded to range from 0 to 1 to express them in the same unit of measurement and to compare strength of their effects. An appendix with descriptions of the variables is available upon request to the authors.
This variable is derived from data reported in Hurd, Foerster and Johnson (1996).
The 1999 union density data are obtained from Akyeampong (2000) and Hirsch, Macpherson and Vroman (2001).
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