The Union Stew – 2016 #6

SEMESTER WRAP-UP & SUMMER TRANSITIONS

Semester end is here, and with it just a few—but IMPORTANT—announcements to share.

(1) After two years of service as Steward, I’m stepping down. This is the most important announcement in this Stew and it affects all of you. If you read nothing else, READ THIS.

Since our contract went into effect, Hamline has paid over $100,000 in increased pay to adjunct faculty (based on $250 lump sum payments to those who taught last fall, plus increases in base pay, and new compensation for terminal degrees and longevity this term). These gains were hard-won through the determination of your bargaining team. These gains (and others) will carry forward and increase each of the next two years. But who in our unit will work to preserve and strengthen them? This is a HUGE QUESTION.

Universities across the country (Hamline is hardly unique in this) can quietly count on the constant transition of its adjunct workforce to make our economic exploitation much easier. This was a major challenge during our organizing efforts and also during our bargaining. Even under our union contract, we’ll continue to be a transitional unit, but if we do not have a leadership team comprised of a pair of co-stewards and a planning council of some sort, not only will our union strength fade but the gains we achieved will disappear as well. So I’m asking with real urgency, who in our unit will work to preserve and strengthen the gains we’ve won?

Even our unit leadership will be in ongoing transition. It’s the nature of our workforce. But we need a circle of people willing to commit to preserving and strengthening our union. I was elected steward in August 2014. The last day I taught as an adjunct at Hamline was December 21, 2014. It’s now just over 500 days since I last taught for Hamline. During that time—while not teaching—I led the bargaining team in negotiations that resulted in improved working conditions, new benefits like professional development funding, and pay increases across the board. Of that $100,000 of increased pay under the new contract, not a penny came my way (not yet; I am scheduled to teach a course again this coming fall). I have worked tirelessly to launch this union even while it has been gaining me nothing for the past 500 days. But it’s time for a whole circle of new leaders to step forward. And if you don’t, we stand to lose everything we fought for.

Back in my March Union Stew I asked who would be willing to step forward and serve as co-steward alongside me. No one responded. So I’m asking again. At the end of August I will have served two full years as Steward. By September 30, 2016 I will step down. With or without co-stewards in place. So I urge all of you reading this to ask whether it is worth just a couple hours of your time each month to keep our union strong and to preserve and extend the gains we made in this first contract. You could do that either as co-steward or as part of our leadership circle. I’m eager to work with those interested to establish a leadership circle for our union. I’d like to begin that work over the summer. It will be ongoing, but by the fall it will be ongoing—without me. So, PLEASE, let’s start this important next chapter of our union this summer together.

Even if you’re not sure about the role you’d like to play, if you’re willing to attend one or two meetings to explore our leadership needs as a unit, let me know ASAP, and I’ll work to find a meeting time that works for everyone. THANK YOU.

 

(2) Minor glitches as the contract rolls out. Things have gone pretty smoothly this spring—given that it’s been the first semester under the contract. Despite plenty of lead time, Hamline wasn’t set up to begin dues deduction on the first pay check and that created some confusion as we had our own work to do to get everyone in the unit signed up for dues payment. I think be the end of the semester we’ve resolved all these issues, so summer and fall should go much smoother.

Also, we realize that adjunct faculty have been misinformed at least twice this spring about “mandatory” but unpaid trainings at Hamline. Under the contract, this can’t happen. Hamline can invite and encourage us to participate in such trainings, but unless Hamline is willing to offer a nominal stipend for our attendance (every fulltime faculty or staff person participates in them as part of their work day) they cannot make them mandatory for us. We’re encouraging Hamline to support the importance of our participation by actually funding it. We wholeheartedly agree that trainings on sexual misconduct and/or computer security are important, and it would cost Hamline very little—less than $3000/semester—to acknowledge that importance in a way that also compensates us for our time. We will continue to work with Hamline on this matter.

 

(3) Fall Appointments: Appointment letters for Fall Term courses are due out per the Collective Bargaining Agreement no later than June 1. *Please remember you must respond within 2 weeks from the time you receive the appointment letter of your intent to accept or decline the appointment. Not responding within the timeline equates to declining the appointment.  

 

(4) Associate Membership. Shortly after the June 1st Fall Term notification your union will receive a list of Fall Term appointments within the bargaining unit. Any current unit members not on that list will receive an invitation to keep your union membership active even when not teaching by becoming an associate member. Your regular union membership “coasts” across short breaks like January and summer—provided you have a teaching assignment on the far side of the break. Otherwise it lapses at the end of each semester in which you teach. In order to keep your membership—and your benefits—active when you’re not teaching, you can voluntarily become an associate member. You’ll pay a modest dues direct to SEIU Local 284 and in exchange you’ll keep your benefits active and keep the Local strong. It’s strictly voluntary, but I think it’s well worth it. In fact, I chose to become our unit’s first associate member this spring since I’m not currently teaching. It’s a win-win offer, both for you and for the Union. More on member benefits is right here. (http://www.seiu284.org/member-resources/benefits/).

 

Upcoming Events & Opportunities

SEIU Day at the Saints is Tuesday, June 14, 2016. Game time is 7:05 pm. Picnic meal on the lawn starts at 5:30 pm. SEIU’s tickets include the picnic meal (burgers, brats, hot dogs, cole slaw, potato salad, baked beans, chips, and beverage). This is a $30 value; members pay just $14. Includes group seating in the Outfield Reserved Seats. Order tickets by mailing a check payable to SEIU 284 to: SEIU 284, 450 Southview Blvd., South St. Paul, MN 5507. You can purchase multiple tickets for family or to go with a friend, but payment must arrive in the office before tickets will be mailed out and there is a limited number available. So act quickly! Call the office 651-256-9110 or 651-256-9100 with any questions.

See the flyer here: www.seiu284.org/files/2016/03/2016-Flier.docx-.pdf

 

SEIU Day at the Minnesota Zoo is Sunday, August 14, 2016. SEIU members have the zoo to themselves (and their family and friends!) beginning at 4:00. Info on these tickets will follow.

You can always find other union meetings & events on the SEIU Local 284 calendar.

 

Best wishes during these last two weeks of class and final exams!

David

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