EPOL Professor Timothy Cain receives Spencer Foundation Grant for research on faculty unions

by The College of Education  /   Jun 8, 2012

Timothy Reese Cain, assistant professor in Education Policy, Organization and Leadership, has received a Spencer Foundation Small Grant for his research on faculty unions. The $40,000 grant's award period started June 1, and the grant's work is part of a larger book project currently underway about the history of faculty unions spanning 1918-1981.

"As the recent legislative standoffs in Wisconsin, Indiana, and elsewhere have demonstrated, public sector unionization remains highly contested, especially when it involves educational workers," Cain stated in his grant proposal.

His broader research interrogates the reasons for and activities of early college faculty unions, assesses the contributions and shortcomings of their efforts, and considers what the push to unionize and the resistance to organizing tells us about higher education and society.

The research supported by the Spencer Foundation will continue his work in the crucial two-plus decades after World War II.

"These were the years in which faculty experienced both internally and externally inflicted wounds, and explored news ways of organizing to overcome them," Cain said. "They were important transitional years between the retreat of faculty unions during the war and the expansion of bargaining in the late 1960s."

Specifically, Cain's research will look at what caused some college faculty to organize or join union locals from the 1940s through the 1960s, the college faculty in these unions and how their positions related to their organizing, the roles and influences of unions both in their local and institutional contexts and how they changed over time, and the roles and influences of unionized faculty in national organizations.