Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Reconsiderations

I have often criticized the UIC United Faculty Union's website. My main criticism stands. It is inaccessible and seems designed to discourage people from viewing it, and it essentially erases the union's pre-website history. It is very hard to find statements online made by the union from its older website(s), and I have not found any statement from the union explaining why it has, apparently, erased its past statements, or even acknowledging it has done so. It may not be the union's fault. Maybe an easier to read website costs more resources and maybe the union cannot afford to devote its resources to the website. And maybe the union's legal counsel has advised the organization to erase statements made in the past.

I am, however, inclined to give the UICUF a break on one criticism I have made. I have often criticized the union for not posting its minutes of meetings. And except for two meetings, the union has posted no minutes.

I'm no longer sure that that criticism is a good one. The minutes are an internal document of union meetings, and the meetings are supposed to be a time for union members to speak and devise strategy or air grievances. For me to demand that the union disclose the content of such meetings is to demand that the union essentially abrogate its prerogative to be the voice of its bargaining unit.

I will point out that the union does have a section on its website called "meeting minutes," and as long as it has that section, it should provide some explanation of which minutes are posted there and which are not, and why. Perhaps the union should delete that section if it intends not to do such things.

But I no longer believe it's the right of the public, or of a dissenter like me who has declined to go to most union meetings, to know what those minutes include. Perhaps a non-dissenting member who has missed a meeting should be able to access the minutes, but there can be a more confidential way to make those available than an open website. The union should be as transparent as possible, but it need not disclose the content of its internal deliberations.


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