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A new study suggests public universities with faculty collective bargaining unions are better off than universities without them.
Mark Cassell, an associate professor of political science at Kent State University, conducted the study, which includes more than 23 years of data and took a year to finish. He found unionized schools tend to have higher graduation and retention rates and lower budgets than non-unionized schools.
Cassell's earlier research presentation (pdf) on college expenditures challenges many myths about labor unions. For example (p. 14):
The influence of unionization on public institutions differs considerably between public 4-year and 2-year institutions. Among public 4-year institutions unionization reduces university expenditures, faculty salaries, and wage variability. In contrast, the evidence suggests that among community colleges unionization increases university costs, faculty salaries, and wage variability.
And (p. 10):
First, in contrast to our expectation about Republican control of state government, Republican control is not a significant factor in explaining expenditures among public 4-year and private not-for-profit schools. However, among public 2-year institutions Republican control is positively associated with school expenditures. One explanation for this may be that while Republicans call for cuts in public spending, they may be unwilling or unable to cut support to the more vocational or applied community colleges.
This earlier research is limited in the questions it addresses. For example (p. 6):
And finally, the research focuses only on the financial impact of unionization. Some of the most important questions are not addressed, including whether unionization influences the quality of education students receive.
Still, as the Daily Nebraskan quoted Cassell about his research:
“It’s useful to actually have some data and critical analysis and not ideology driving the discussion, so hopefully this is helpful,” Cassell said.
It would also be great if we could have honest research and actual data driving the discussions about K-12 teacher unions, charter schools, and abstinence-only sex education instead of right-wing ideology and self-interested corporate propaganda.