Twin Cities Faculty Union Movement Grows as Two Minneapolis Colleges Join Hamline, U of M in Fight to Improve Higher Ed
MINNEAPOLIS – Over 100 part-time and full-time faculty from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) voted overwhelmingly to form a faculty union with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 284 in balloting that ended yesterday, just days after adjunct faculty at Augsburg College filed for their own union election. Instructors at both institutions are forming unions for a stronger voice to improve teaching conditions and advocate on behalf of students.
“I am thrilled to see such a resounding vote for forming our union amongst both part-time and full-time faculty,” said Daniel Dean, an Adjunct in Media at MCAD. “Now, we can work together towards changes that will improve our working conditions as well as our students’ experience. As part-time adjunct faculty, we need to know that we will be able to be there for our students when they need us.”
“I want to form an adjunct faculty union at Augsburg because I love teaching here – so much so that I am teaching this semester at a financial loss, as I did over the summer,” said Jessica Ennis, an Adjunct Instructor in Physics at Augsburg College. “I have two small children, and I pay more in child care than I make from teaching. This is not sustainable in the long term for my family and me, for my students, or for the Augsburg administration.”
Ballots were mailed out to MCAD faculty two weeks ago by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and were counted this afternoon for separate bargaining units of part-time adjunct faculty and ranked full-time faculty. With a vote count of 43 to 20 amongst part-time faculty and 16 to 13 amongst full-time faculty, 64% percent voted in favor of forming a union. MCAD faculty hope to begin bargaining their first contract before the end of the year. No election timeline has yet been set for Augsburg, but faculty requested an election by mail ballot in November.
MCAD faculty join over 13,000 higher education instructors across the country who have formed unions with SEIU in the last three years to address the growing crisis in the higher education faculty profession, including adjunct faculty at Hamline University in Saint Paul.
Steve Boland, an Adjunct Faculty member at Hamline University, expressed the support of SEIU Local 284 members: “We are excited to hear that part-time and full-time faculty at MCAD have voted to join our union and that adjuncts at Augsburg will have the same opportunity. We made major improvements at Hamline in our first union contract, including a 20% increase in base pay for more than half of adjunct faculty after ten years without an increase, so I am excited to think about what we can accomplish together with faculty at other colleges across the Twin Cities.”
Hamline University won their first union contract with SEIU Local 284 earlier this year. Tenure-track and contingent faculty at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities campus filed for a union election in January and await their election to be ordered by the Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services after it affirmed the requested combined bargaining unit in a decision released last month.
MN Academics United is an affiliate of SEIU Local 284. Faculty at Twin Cities colleges and universities are coming together to form unions for a stronger voice in shaping our institutions’ direction and priorities, our working conditions, and the future of higher education in Minnesota.