Yale History Professor Emeritus David Montgomery writes to Historian and Columbia Provost Alan Brinkley:
It is high time for the administration at Columbia to obey the law of the land and sit down to negotiate with the union formed by its teaching assistants and research assistants. Two years ago a clear majority of graduate students made their choice for a union in an NLRB election.
They followed the procedure created by the New Deal in its finest hour to determine a bargaining agent chosen by employees with which the employer is legally obliged to negotiate terms of employment. Columbia’s administration has taken refuge behind the myth that those who teach sections and carry out research for the university are not employees and counted on a federal government determined to do all it can to create a “union free America” to let Columbia, and the Bush administration, evade the intent and the letter of the law. By forcing the graduate employees to strike for recognition, you have done precisely what Senator Wagner sought to avoid: resorted to the law of the jungle. Columbia today can be a better citizen than this.
Jacob observes that it’s sad to see a liberal historian defending such an illiberal stance. I agree, but as one of the few people in 12th grade history who really liked Brinkley’s massive textbook, I still say (as I think Jacob himself may imply) that Brinkley’s choice to keep his job and defend the status quo deserves more outrage than pity.