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.
No date set yet for union election; ruling paves way for 1,000 Contingent Faculty to join 1,500 Tenure-Track Faculty for union election at Twin Cities campus
MINNEAPOLIS – Today University of Minnesota – Twin Cities faculty praised a decision by the State Bureau of Mediation Services (BMS) that affirms the unified bargaining unit requested by tenure-track and contingent faculty for their union election, setting the stage for a vote later this fall. Faculty are seeking to form a union for a stronger voice in University governance and a stronger voice in shaping the future of higher education in Minnesota.
“I am pleased with the state’s decision to allow contingent faculty like me the opportunity to gain a stronger voice at the University by forming a union with our tenure-track colleagues,” said Jason Stahl, a Lecturer in the Department of Organizational Leadership and Policy Development. “We are building this union together to strengthen the voice of faculty on our campus for ourselves and our students, and we are confident that we will win our vote.”
Tenure-track faculty and contingent faculty filed for an election in January to form one union on the Twin Cities campus. The U of M’s central administration objected, delaying the union vote for several months by attempting to keep tenure-track and contingent faculty divided. BMS held hearings in late April and early May to determine the proper bargaining unit for contract faculty positions like Lecturers and Teaching Specialists.
“Tenure-line and contingent faculty are forming a union together because we are all dedicated academics,” said Jerry Cohen, a Professor of Horticultural Science. “Contract faculty like Teaching Specialists and Lecturers teach many of the same classes, participate in faculty governance, and engage in service and research. While we have different roles at the University, we are all responsible for teaching our students and making the U a great place to learn.”
The decision concludes that “there is no evidence showing a community of interest with Unit 11 [Professional & Administrative] and strong evidence demonstrating significant community of interest with other undisputed Unit 8 [Twin Cities Instructional] classifications. For this reason, those incumbents in the Classifications in Question, located on the Twin Cities Campus of the University, Unit 8 is the appropriate unit assignment.”
“I want to thank the Bureau of Mediation Services for their diligent work on this matter, and I respect the decision they have reached regarding these instructional positions at the U of M,” said State Senator Patricia Torres Ray. “Faculty have every right to organize to demand better working conditions. I expect the University’s central administration to respect this decision by the Bureau and let faculty make their own decision on a union now. The University can’t afford to waste its limited resources fighting against their own faculty.”
“Students support the effort of contingent faculty to form a union with tenured faculty on campus because contingent instructors are who we see most often as undergrads and their lack of stability affects our education,” said Mica Standing Soldier, an undergraduate Senior in English and Creative Writing. “When instructors don’t know if they will be teaching the following semester, it affects the continuity of a degree program, and when they have to work multiple jobs to make ends meet for themselves and their families, we see that in the classroom.”
“Contingent faculty are forming unions across the country because we need greater job stability not only for ourselves, but also for our students and for the future of higher education,” said Mary Pogatshnik, a Senior Teaching Specialist in the Department of Spanish & Portuguese. “We must do better than to ask our students to compromise their education when they are taught by instructors working on unstable contracts.”
“As the University’s administration has increased the number and ratio of non-tenure-line positions, the fates of all faculty are increasingly intertwined,” said Irene Duranczyk, an Associate Professor in the College of Education and Human Development. “We believe that the precarious working conditions under which contingent faculty labor are not only bad for them but also bad for students and bad for us, the remaining tenure-line faculty.”
Faculty at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities campus filed for a union election to join SEIU Local 284 on Wednesday, January 20th. The union would include approximately 2,500 tenure-line and contingent faculty at the U of M – Twin Cities campus, and would be one of the largest single-campus faculty unions in the country. BMS ruled in March that contingent instructors like Teaching Specialists and Lecturers have not been previously placed in a bargaining unit for purposes of a union election, and that the University’s administrative classifications do not govern in this context.
MN Academics United is an affiliate of SEIU Local 284. Faculty at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities campus are coming together to form a union for a stronger voice in shaping our University’s 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.