Meanwhile, adjunct instructors at Augsburg College petition to hold their own election.
by MAURA LERNER
Faculty members at Minneapolis College of Art & Design have voted to form a union, while adjunct instructors at Augsburg College have petitioned to hold their own union election, officials announced Wednesday.
The announcement suggests that faculty unions are starting to gain ground at Minnesota’s private colleges, two years after a national union began organizing in the state.
At MCAD, nearly two-thirds of the faculty voted for the union, which will represent about 100 full- and part-time instructors, according to the Service Employees International Union, which sponsored the organizing effort.
This is the second faculty union to win approval in Minnesota since 2014, when adjunct instructors voted to organize at Hamline University in St. Paul.
“I’m really excited,” said Daniel Dean, an adjunct media instructor who helped organize the union effort at the art school. “I think this opens up a new chapter for MCAD.” One of the goals, he said, is to “improve our working conditions as well as our students’ experience.”
College President Jay Coogan said in a statement: “While we are disappointed with the outcome of these votes, we respect the process and appreciate that so many members of our faculty participated in this important decision.”
MCAD “will negotiate in good faith” with the faculty, he said.
At colleges around the country, unions have been working to organize adjunct faculty, who typically are part-timers and may lack benefits or job security and are paid far less than tenure-track professors.
Dean said he and his colleagues were inspired by the adjuncts at Hamline, who negotiated improvements in pay and working conditions in their first union contract in February. “[That] was a shining example to us that this kind of thing is possible,” said Dean.
Meanwhile, adjunct instructors at Augsburg filed a petition last week with the National Labor Relations Board calling for a union election.
“We’ve been working on it since this past spring, and it’s been gaining steady momentum,” said Jessica Ennis, an adjunct physics instructor who has taught at Augsburg for eight years. She said some 40 percent of the college’s undergraduate classes are taught by adjuncts, who typically get paid $4,600 a course.
“Augsburg has one of the lowest pay rates in the Twin Cities area,” Ennis said. At the same time, she said, adjuncts are limited to part-time contracts and rarely know if they’ll have a job from one semester to the next. “You think you have a job, and it disappears,” she said. The union would represent about 260 adjunct instructors at Augsburg’s Minneapolis campus. The vote has not been scheduled.
A similar union election is pending at the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus. This week, the university appealed a recent ruling by the Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services, which would have set the stage for a vote this fall by some 2,500 adjuncts and professors.
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.
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. (more…)
SPRING CLEANING: ASSORTED ANNOUNCEMENTS
This message includes a bunch of announcements. Scan them carefully to see which apply to you.
(1) The contract has now been signed by all parties and is in force. Hooray!
(2) Application for professional development funds has been posted on our Union bulletin board (archway into GLC south wing). The application period for the first round of awards opens on April 1 and closes on May 1. Follow the link for full details.
(NOTE: you will need to be logged in to Google through your Hamline account to access the link in the PDF that takes you to the online application; I tried this to make sure it works—and it does.)
(3) Hard times at Hamline University. I’ve heard from several reliable sources that Hamline’s budget crisis is going to hit hard the next couple of years. Painfully hard—across all segments of the university. I mention this for two reasons. First, so you know that anxiety over the budget is widespread. Even with pay increases under this new contract, our labor remains far cheaper than that of fulltime faculty, making us an attractive cost-saver whenever possible (even in ways that may not be to Hamline’s long-term health). Second, so you don’t presume any impact you might personally feel is the result of being unionized. It isn’t. It’s the result of years of budget neglect and misaligned priorities. President Miller is committed to bringing Hamline through these hardships, and, for the wellbeing of the entire Hamline community, I hope you join me in wishing her well.
(4) Motion for a Co-Steward; can I get a second? I’ve served as your steward since August 2014 … through some pretty grueling months. And I’m willing to stay on for a while longer as we find our way into this new contract. BUT— I only teach about one course per year at Hamline, and I have a very busy non-Hamline life. It’s time for a second steward. Preferably someone who teaches more consistently than I do—but it could be anybody. Most importantly, I need someone to step forward and say they’d be willing to share Steward duties with me. Only a couple hours a month, but this is a pretty big deal. I need some help. So when I ask, Could it be you? PLEASE give it serious consideration and let me know.
(5) Union-University Collaboration Committee: looking for a few good faculty. Our contract provides for a UUCC to help build a stronger working relationship, enhance communications, and trouble-shoot issues that may arise during the contract. We can have up to five representatives on the Committee (and we’d be foolish to have any fewer than that). The UUCC will meet only as needed (but at least once each semester) with the agenda set by co-chairs (one admin and one of us). This is less time than being Co-Steward, but just as important. So, again, PLEASE give this serious consideration and let me know.
(6) Spring luncheon?? I’d like to consider holding a spring luncheon … an opportunity to meet and greet, socialize a bit, and hear some ideas about how to strengthen our Union, support one another, and enrich the fabric of life at Hamline. I know our schedules are widely scattered, but if we don’t try, we won’t accomplish anything. So, two questions: anyone willing to help make this happen? Any feedback on days or times most conducive to the most participation? Let me know.
(7) Associate Membership matters. Your active union membership can “coast” across short breaks like January and the 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 during periods when you’re not teaching, you can voluntarily choose to 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 and details will come out in an official mailing from the office, but I urge you to consider it. It’s a win-win offer, both for you and for the Union. More on member benefits is right here.
Upcoming Events & Opportunities
SEIU Lobby Day is Tuesday, April 12. Want to join other union members in meeting with Minnesota legislators around education issues at the Capitol? Sign up to attend SEIU Lobby Day right here.
SEIU Day at the Saints is Tuesday, June 14, 2016 at 5:30 pm. Info on tickets will follow.
SEIU Day at the Minnesota Zoo is Sunday, August 14, 2016 beginning at 4:00. Info on tickets will follow.
You can find other union meetings on the SEIU Local 284 calendar.
Thanks for making it all the way to the end! Let me hear from you about anything you can help with—or anything you need help with.
1536 Hewitt Ave
St Paul, MN 55104
Hamline University 2016-2018
St. Paul, MN – Adjunct faculty at Hamline University voted to ratify their historic first contract with the University on Friday evening after a full day of voting. The contract, reached in December, was called a win for faculty, students and whole university. After 10 years without a raise, adjuncts voted to form their Union with SEIU Local 284 in June of 2014, and negotiated their first contract for over a year. The contract was ratified with over 95% of ballots voting “yes,” and the new contract will go into effect for the spring semester.
Mark Felton, a Hamline adjunct in the business school and member of the bargaining team, praised the vote and expressed excitement about the first contract going into effect.
“Like my fellow faculty, I joined this fight for a first contract because I truly love teaching and want what is best for students, faculty and the larger Hamline community,” said Felton, who has taught at various higher education institutions in Minnesota for over 10 years. “We hope that our contract ratification, and the reality that our gains are locked in with a union contract so that they can’t be taken away later, will help to inspire others to stand up and fight to strengthen higher education across Minnesota. Increasing wages after all these years, establishing a professional development fund and crafting a system where adjuncts have advance notice of when they will teach courses will all help to create an environment where we have the capacity to do what we love to do, which is spend time with and teach our students. We know that we couldn’t have made these amazing gains without the support of students and the community who also want to make Hamline as great as possible. We are proud that we came together and made this contract a reality.”
David Weiss, Steward of the Union and Adjunct Instructor in Religion, shared how this contract will move Hamline forward.
“Having taught as an adjunct faculty member at Hamline since 2004, I am especially pleased to see this contract ratified. Hamline’s commitment to teaching excellence is now backed up by a commitment to more timely notice of teaching appointments as well as professional development support for adjunct faculty. Similarly, the University’s value of social justice is now echoed in placing renewed value on the work of its adjunct faculty,” said Weiss. “This isn’t just a ‘win’ for those of us who are adjuncts. It’s a win for the students in our classrooms and for our fulltime faculty colleagues. Bargaining a first contract is never easy, but thanks to long hours and hard work by both bargaining teams, this contract strengthens the fabric of Hamline University as whole. Although President Miller wasn’t directly involved in negotiations, this is a significant and positive accomplishment so early in her tenure at Hamline.”
Highlights of the tentative agreement include:
The contract ratification comes just weeks after tenure-line and contingent faculty at the University of Minnesota filed for a union election with the Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services. With approximately 2,500 instructional faculty at the Twin Cities campus, this will be one of the largest single-campus faculty unions in the country.
LAST CALL: PLEASE VOTE TO RATIFY
Dear Hamline Colleagues –
This is your last call to vote. If you’ve been telling yourself, “Yeah, I better get that in the mail tomorrow …” it’s time to make “tomorrow” TODAY.
You’ve already heard my appeal to vote, so I’m just going to remind you how and when to vote.
To vote by mail: Your mailed ballot must reach the SEIU office by Thursday, February 11. So these ballots really need to be in the mail by Monday or Tuesday or you’ll risk missing the deadline. If you mail in your ballot, be sure to follow the very specific instructions that came with your copy of the CBA. You must confirm your union membership in order to vote. If we don’t have a record of your membership, we included a member form in the CBA mailing; make sure to complete and submit it with your ballot.
To vote in person:Come to room GLC 224W on Friday, February 12, 2016, from 9 AM to 6 PM in Giddens Learning Center right on campus. I’ll be there along with other members from the bargaining team to answer any questions you may have as well as to take your ballots. We will have all forms needed in the room in case you forget to bring the ones you received in your mailing.
All ballots are confidential. If you have specific questions, feel free to contact me (David Weiss, Steward) or Carol Nieters (Executive Director, SEIU 284)
One last appeal: with this CBA we make history – both for adjunct faculty and for Hamline. We take our place among many others who are helping to chart a new path toward greater justice in higher education. It’s worth your support, and I hope you cast your ballot in favor of it.
Here’s hoping that my next message brings word of a new contract, signed and in place!
UPDATE ON CBA AND RATIFICATION
I’m sending out a short update to keep you informed of our progress.
We’ve just received the first draft of the final CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) from Hamline’s attorney. This is the first compilation of all the articles that we reached “tentative agreement” on separately. So now we need to take a close look to make sure everything lines up and fits together as we expected it to.
Carol and I have both proofread the CBA. We’ve caught several fairly minor things to correct: small typos; several places where there are inconsistent cross-references from one article to another; a couple paragraphs that were accidentally left out—the type of thing you don’t see until everything gets bundled together. Nothing that should prove controversial, but several things that need to be corrected/added/clarified before the CBA can be distributed to all of you. We’re presently working with the University attorney on addressing these things, and we hope that by the end of the week we have everything ironed out.
Once the CBA (which looks like it will be about 25 pages in length) is in final form we’ll send it out to everyone in the unit to review. That should happen the last week of January. As soon as we can send it out, we’ll also set a date for the ratification vote. These details are not set yet, but you will (by SEIU policy you “must”) have the contract in your hands for two weeks before the vote is held. Full details on the ratification vote will come along with the contract.
One final note, the new compensation scale will become effective at the beginning of Spring Semester even though the ratification vote will come shortly after classes begin.
Looking forward to sharing the CBA with all of you very soon!