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The Union Stew – July 13, 2018: Bargaining Begins!

Newsletter for the Hamline Adjunct Faculty Union, SEIU Local 284 – sent by email to all union members

Dear Colleagues:

Three updates below: (1) Grievance; (2) Internal union development; (3) Bargaining.

1. Grievance. Hamline has now refused at each of first three official steps in our Grievance process to even meet to discuss their decision to no longer recognize me as a steward. (Full info in the 5/25 Stew; update in the 6/11 Stew.)

We expect to clarify exactly who can serve as a steward or other representative of the union to be resolved during bargaining itself, but their current posture is troubling because they’ve basically rejected outright the Grievance process outlined in the contract. We’ve now requested a waiver on the grievance timeline pending contract negotiations. Without this waiver, we’ll lose any standing on the Grievance. Thus far, they’ve refused to do even this. If they don’t alter their stance, we’ll have to take them to court to compel arbitration. Hopefully, the threat of court action will press them to at least waive the timeline while contract negotiations are ongoing.

2. Internal union development. I’ve begun reaching out to current unit members seeking conversation regarding a stronger leadership structure to sustain and strengthen our union. (Full info in the 5/25 Stew; update in the 6/11 Stew.)

I’ve met with several of you already and am continuing to reach out and schedule conversations over the coming months. Because our work tends to be isolating (from our peers), intermittent, and often transient, we can easily become marginalized in the workplace. So it’s up to us to find ways to support each other and to sustain our union as a whole. This can make a difference for all of us, so I hope you’ll engage with me when I ask—or even reach out to me and tell me you’re ready to talk!

3. Bargaining update. We had our first official bargaining session on Monday, July 9, at the Bureau of Mediation Services in St. Paul. (BMS is a neutral site—with multiple rooms for teams to caucus in as well as share space for bargaining.) Here’s a quick recap:

We had five faculty members, plus Carol Hanson, our SEIU staff person. Hamline had four administrators, plus their outside counsel. It looks like we’ll have 7-10 faculty members who will share duties on our bargaining team; the administration intends to bring the same team each time. Given that each person on their side of the table is “on the clock” at $50-$150/hour to bargain, while everyone on our side (except Carol) is there as a volunteer, it makes sense that we have a larger team to share the time needed.

This session was intentionally short: our agenda was simply to exchange opening proposals and discuss future bargaining dates. Hamline also insisted that we negotiate over “Ground Rules.” In 2014 Hamline spent more than 8 hours delaying actual bargaining by quibbling over “ground rules.” Thankfully, this time that discussion went fairly quickly and we appear to have reached agreement in our very first session. After this, we confirmed three bargaining dates for August, two half-days and one full day, which is pretty good.

Then we presented our initial proposal and walked their team through it. As our lead negotiator, Carol did most of this, but individual faculty persons took turns speaking to items that they had direct knowledge of. Hamline did not bring an opening proposal, which was not surprising to us as they have preferred to wait and see what we ask for before offering anything of their own. In our next meeting they’ll bring a counter-proposal of some sort, and then we’ll begin bargaining in earnest. Far too early to tell how negotiations will go, but our first short session went well. If you’re interested in joining our bargaining team at any level of commitment, let me know!

Hoping your summer is off to a good start!

David Weiss

The Union Stew – June 11, 2018

Newsletter for the Hamline Adjunct Faculty Union, SEIU Local 284 – sent by email to all union members

Dear Colleagues:

Today I have four things to share:

  • We’ve filed to open up the contract for bargaining.
  • We need bargaining team members.
  • Hamline’s efforts to remove me as steward continue.
  • Union development begins!
  1. On June 4 (the first possible day) we filed official notice with Hamline to open the contract for bargaining. This indicates our intent to seek changes (improvements) in the contract. We proposed a couple initial dates to present first proposals and establish a calendar for further negotiations. Now we’re waiting for Hamline’s response. Hopefully we can get the contract revised over the summer.

Besides clarifying the language in some places, we’ll pursue a number of improvements, taking our lead from your input through the online survey and member meetings. Because the details of our proposal will change, both through internal bargaining team conversations and in the course of bargaining itself, I’ll only share the general goals. But I’ll keep you updated as things progress, sharing as much as possible without jeopardizing negotiations. At present our goals include:

  • A dedicated link to union info and materials on the Hamline website
  • Improvements to make the Union-University Collaboration Committee more effective
  • Longer appointments and more timely notice of them
  • Transparency in offer letters on pay rates details (base rate, terminal degree, length of service)
  • Expanded professional development funds
  • Longer email and library access in between appointments
  • Modest but ongoing increases in compensation—and
  • Integrate St. Paul’s Earned Sick & Safe Time ordinance with our short term leave of absence
  • Expanded access to tuition waiver benefits
  • A better retirement benefit

Remember, (despite putting very reasonable goals out there) the very nature of bargaining suggests we won’t get everything we hope for—BUT the more actively you’re engaged in the process, the stronger our bargaining position becomes.

  1. We really need adjunct faculty to join us on the bargaining team. We have a small core of committed bargaining team members. We know many others care deeply about various pieces of the contract, and we’ll represent the whole unit. But, in order to spread the work around, support each other as we bargain, and convey the breadth of our support, it helps to have a dozen persons willing to share in this. If you can bargain at some level (as often as possible, only as needed or on a specific topic), please let me (David) know right away and we’ll figure out what works for you. Here are a few details:
  • Eligibility. You don’t need to have a current teaching appointment to bargain. If you taught at any point under the first contract, you’re eligible.
  • Frequency. We’ll most likely meet once or twice in June, then 2-4 times each in July and August. You don’t need to be at every session. Even joining us for 1 or 2 makes an impact.
  • Duration. We usually try to bargain for a full day (9-5), although Hamline may offer us a mix of full and half-day options. If you can join us for 3-4 hours on a day we bargain, that helps.
  • Location. We try to bargain at the Bureau of Mediation Services just north of campus, off Energy Park Drive. If we bargain over lunch, the union will order food in for us.
  • The Pay. Well, we bargain as volunteers. But the reward you do get is an inside view of the bargaining process—and a deep sense of collegiality among your peers.
  1. Our grievance process over my standing as union steward continues, with Hamline thus far refusing to engage in any attempt at resolution. (See the May 25 Stew for more background.) This means we’re likely to either end up in arbitration or achieve a resolution by bargaining more clarity in the new contract. I continue to serve as steward for unit members (as those of you who contact me know)—and to network with fulltime faculty to build wider solidarity—even while Hamline disputes my standing, but the administration refuses to communicate with me. Currently this is mostly an annoyance (they cannot prevent my participation in bargaining, which is our most important university interface right now), but it offers a telling insight into the administration’s posture.

This dispute has zero dollars attached to it. It’s not over my pay rate or my access to any benefits that would cost the university money. In fact, Hamline just awarded me a $600 professional development grant for this summer. The focus of this dispute is about removing my knowledge and understanding of the contract—and my passion for justice—from the union’s relationship to the university. In other words, the only thing the university “saves” by refusing to acknowledge me as steward is any need to have my voice—my knowledge and my passion—as part of the unfolding collaborative relationship between union and university. This dispute isn’t over a term ambiguously applied in the contract. It’s about consolidating power on one side of the table—and that should concern all of you.

  1. Internal union work: “moving us from union contract to union community.” This is about cultivating relationships of solidarity within the union and some important alliances in the university community. Just as importantly, it’s about building the leadership structure that can sustain us and help us thrive over the long-term. I’ll begin reaching out to individual faculty for conversation in the coming weeks. If you have ideas or are eager to talk to me, don’t wait; let me know, and I’ll put you on my calendar right away. In brief, I want to create the following infrastructure:
  • 3 person steward team that has regular rotating terms.
  • 2 person professional development committee to promote (and perhaps plan) professional development opportunities.
  • 2 person education committee to plan at least one on-campus event each year, ideally in partnership with another campus group.
  • 2 person social committee to plan at least one social event each year.
  • 5 person union-university collaboration committee members (to include stewards).

Coming from next-to-nothing, this may sound ambitious—and it is!—but it’s also doable because it narrows the tasks down to manageable concrete commitments and spreads the work across a wide handful of people. Once in place it will make us a sustainable organization—and community—of professional colleagues, even as we balance the commitments and transitions in the rest of our lives.

 

With best wishes as we begin the summer,

David Weiss

 

 

The Union Stew – May 25, 2018

Newsletter for the Hamline Adjunct Faculty Union, SEIU Local 284 – sent by email to all union members

Greetings Colleagues!

I have three four pieces of news—some good, some not good, but important to know nonetheless.

  1. We’ve filed a grievance over who can serve as union steward/designated representative. Late last fall Hamline rejected me (David Weiss) from our proposed roster of members on the Union University Collaboration Committee (UUCC). We were surprised and disappointed; I have as thorough an understanding the contract as anyone in our unit or in the administration. My voice would seem a welcome addition to informal conversation around how to best interpret/implement the contract. Nonetheless, because we had others in our unit willing to serve on the UUCC we chose not to dispute their opinion, preferring to clarify it while bargaining for our next contract (this summer). However, in April Hamline notified us that they also rejected my standing as steward. We immediately challenged this position, and when they were unwilling to reconsider, we filed a formal grievance.

Hamline holds that only “unit members”—defined as those currently holding a teaching appointment—can serve as designated union representatives. We hold that “unit members” is used in a variety of ways throughout the contract, and (for instance) the fact that I was just awarded a professional development grant (available by definition only to “eligible unit members”) shows that I continue to be a unit member. Additionally, I pay associate member dues when not teaching. Also, Hamline continued to recognize Steve Boland, both as UCCC representative and as steward during the Spring term, despite the fact that he didn’t have a teaching appointment. One might infer from this that Hamline’s primary concern is to eliminate my voice as union representative.

Besides the immediate concern about appearing to target one vocal union leader for removal, the larger concern is that Hamline’s reading of the contract effectively gives them veto-power over union leadership simply by withdrawing an appointment to teach—and makes consistent leadership within the union near-impossible by the very often intermittent nature of adjunct teaching. The Grievance process is well-defined in the contract and leads to outside arbitration if we aren’t able to resolve it prior to that. We want the university to recognize me as steward through negotiations for our second contract—during which we will clarify the importance of the union having autonomy in selecting its representatives. We believe an arbitrator will rule in our favor if it comes to that.

  1. As we enter negotiations for our second contract, there are signs (besides the steward grievance) that Hamline still views a unionized faculty as adversary rather than partner. This isn’t our intent but seems to be the university’s chosen posture—and one increasingly present in its relationship with fulltime faculty as well.
  • Despite having established the UUCC precisely to provide a forum for informal conversation about contract matters (among other things), Hamline has repeatedly declined to address a number of rather basic concerns either within or beyond the UUCC. Such matters include the way course cancellations have been implemented, lack of a pro-rated pay option for summer courses, compensation for non-teaching duties, better transparency in salary calculations, and delays in processing appointment letters (resulting in issues with piperline and bookstore ordering). All of these could be fruitfully discussed; many could be easily resolved. But the administration has chosen to defer any consideration of improved processes until contract negotiations.
  • As evidence of the administration’s top-down approach even in regard to fulltime faculty, over the past year the administration has carried out course cancelations without adequate consultation with fulltime faculty—and with significant numbers of students not yet enrolled. The result has been not only to lessen the breadth of course offerings and “drive” students from lower-enrolled courses to higher-enrolled courses, but even to undercut the integrity of departmental offerings in some cases. Many fulltime faculty are voicing concern.
  • We’ve also heard that the university budget for the coming academic years proposes significant cuts to adjunct instruction as a means to balance the budget. This might be driven by economic necessity; it might equally be viewed as a way to weaken the union. And it is being viewed by many fulltime faculty as a challenge to shared governance because such cuts—made unilaterally, without consultation or transparent sharing of budget data—have the impact of forcing curricular changes that belong under faculty oversight. We have reached out directly to President Miller to clarify the extent of these budget cuts and the rationale for them. We will share more details as we learn them.

All of this is to say that this summer’s contract negotiations will be every bit as important as those in our first contract. We’ll be sharing more with you about our bargaining goals—sometimes through the Union Stew and sometimes through member meetings. It’s essential that you remain engaged in this process. Our solidarity is our strength. If you’re willing to help bargain, please let us know! It can be a pretty minimal time commitment, but every face at the table adds to our strength. If you have input for us, please share it. And when we call informational meetings, please come! Bargaining will likely begin in the latter half of June.

  1. A new union project: “moving us from union contract to union community.” Finally, some unabashedly good news! As someone deeply involved in our union from initial organizing to formal negotiations and contract implementation, one of my hopes has been to see us become a union community. We’ll only sustain the gains we’ve made—and expand them—to the benefit of ourselves, our students, and our fulltime faculty colleagues, if we find ways to become a community of solidarity. The same challenges that allowed our exploitation before unionizing—inconsistent work assignments, isolation from our peers, the piecemeal nature of (many of) our work lives, and regular turnover within our unit—also make it difficult to fashion the sort of genuine union community that can undergird a strong contract and build a sustainable network of unit leadership. But recently I proposed a project dedicated to helping this happen and received the full support of SEIU Local 284. Thus, with some modest funding in hand—and a bucketful of ideas and passion—this summer and beyond I’ll be working to make a pathway from union contract to union community. You’ll hear more about that as the project unfolds—both through the Union Stew and through personal contacts. I hope you’ll join me in imagining what we can be.
  2. SEIU Day with the St. Paul Saints is a member only benefit: June 12th is our annual day with the Saints, starting with a picnic at 5:30PM and 7:05PM game. Our union has around 73 tickets left for the game.  The tickets are a $30 value. Members pay $14 for each ticket and our union pays $16. Picnic dinner is included. The Saints are very entertaining as they engage the audience throughout the game and generally give something away to attendees. The link to our union’s website is below as you must get your tickets before the game.

 

 

The Union Stew – April 20, 2018

Newsletter for the Hamline Adjunct Faculty Union, SEIU Local 284 – sent by email to all union members

Greetings Colleagues!

This is your final reminder that the application window for Professional Development Fund IS OPEN NOW—and for ten more days. The applications period closes on May 1, with awards being announced soon after May 15. (Eligibility and applications details are reviewed below.)

To help those of you who may not have applied for funds before imagine ways you might use this benefit, I’ve gathered a sampling of professional development awards. This is hardly exhaustive of the proposals funded; it’s just a sample to show the range of topics:

  • Steve Boland, Nonprofit Management – $600 in two awards for professional development conferences. The first was a local event with $179 registration fee plus mileage. The second was covering travel costs to San Francisco for an international software conference for tools used in nonprofit fundraising. The conference fee was waived, but the airfare and hotel would have been a lot harder to cover without the help from the union benefit. I got to do in-person conversations and demos of tools I teach in my classroom, and really could bring some up-to-the-minute tactics back to Hamline students!
  • Miriam Gerberg, Music – I received support to help cover travel and registration costs to present a paper and participate in the ICTM (International Council for Traditional Music) Applied Ethnomusicology Study Group meeting in October 2016 at Cape Breton University in Nova Scotia, Canada. My paper was titled “When International Political Upheavals Drive Cross-Cultural Music Education: An Applied Perspective.”
  • Miriam Gerberg, Music – I received professional development funds to help cover costs to attend a weeklong professional music workshop run by the Arab American Arts Institute at Mt. Holyoke College in Massachusetts in August 2017. This allowed me to enhance my skills and knowledge of traditional classical Arabic music for which I teach a unit on every semester in the MUS 1030 course and for the special topics Middle East music course I also teach. Many other educators attend this workshop so I had the chance to access teaching materials with other college educators.
  • Habiba Hadziavdic, German – I visited an archive at the University of Southern California that houses a collection of writings by German emigres to the United Stated from pre-war Germany. This type of material relates well to my ongoing research as it relates to the German intelligentsia that settled in Los Angeles as well as my teaching interest in bringing awareness to students about a powerful impact that this group of people had not only in the United States but also exerted on Germany while away and upon their return.
  • David Weiss, Religion – $600 award helped offset travel & registration for a week-long seminar in New Mexico on religion, science, cosmology, and climate change taught by nationally regarded leaders working at the intersections of religious and scientific thought. It provided a rich learning experience, an opportunity to network, and a wealth of ideas/materials for use in a course on religious responses to climate change.
  • David Weiss, Religion – $600 (current application) to cover two different registrations. (1) An online course taught by a pair of Yale University professors I met at last summer’s seminar; this course will further equip me to link scientific work in cosmology to religious thinking on climate change. (2) A week-long seminar in Ohio: “A Deeper Shade of Green: Black Ecotheology and Ethics,” which will allow me to integrate race issues (another interest of mine) into my teaching on environmental ethics and climate change. Both courses will equip me to teach this material more effectively in the classroom while also being useful in work I do in other contexts as a teaching theologian in church settings.

Under our contract, a maximum of $10,000 can be awarded in the Spring award cycle. This ensures that at least $5,000 remains for the Fall award cycle. Thus up to sixteen proposals could be fully funded at $600 each this spring. So far we haven’t even come close to using all the funds available to us. This was one of the most significant gains in our contract, and it would be great to see these funds used by many in our unit. Please consider applying!

Eligibility and applications details. Our contract provides $15,000 per year, disbursed in Spring & Fall award cycles; maximum $600/person/year. It’s a very straightforward online application (you can only access it when logged in to your Hamline Google account). All funds awarded must be used within the upcoming fiscal year (which runs 7/1/2018-6/30/2019). To be eligible: you must have taught at Hamline for two prior years (need not be consecutive) AND either be currently teaching or have taught within the past year. Full details are in Article 18 in our contract.

Here’s the info needed when applying for Professional Development (PD) funds:

  1. You’ll need to list the semester and purpose for any previously received PD award.
  2. Courses you’re teaching at Hamline in the current academic year—AND those taught at Hamline during the last academic year (course numbers, titles, and semesters taught)
  3. The most recent 3 academic year(s) you’ve taught at least one course or lab at Hamline.
  4. Describe the PD opportunity or resource for which you are seeking funding.
  5. Explain how this PD opportunity or resource will enhance your teaching at Hamline.
  6. Provide funding amount requested ($600 maximum) and budget, listing all relevant expenses (e.g., registration, lodging, travel expenses, resource costs).

Again, please consider applying!

And please like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/HamlineAdjuncts – it’s the best way to stay on top of our own events and announcements as well as a place to find other news related to labor and higher education.

We hope your semester is going well. As always, we’re happy to meet with any of you to discuss any concerns or ideas.

David Weiss & Steve Boland – Unit Stewards

 

 

The Union Stew – April 9, 2018

Newsletter for the Hamline Adjunct Faculty Union, SEIU Local 284 – sent by email to all union members

Greetings Colleagues!

This message is your reminder that the window for Professional Development Fund applications IS OPEN NOW. The applications period closes on May 1, with awards being announced soon after May 15.

Our contract provides $15,000 per year, disbursed in Spring & Fall award cycles; maximum $600/person/year. It’s a very straightforward online application (you can only access it when logged in to your Hamline Google account). All funds awarded must be used within the upcoming fiscal year (runs 7/1/2018-6/30/2019). To be eligible: you must have taught at Hamline for two prior years (need not be consecutive) AND either be currently teaching or have taught within the past year. Full details are in Article 18 in our contract.

Here’s the info needed when applying for Professional Development (PD) funds:

  1. You’ll need to list the semester and purpose for any previously received PD award.
  2. Courses you’re teaching at Hamline in the current academic year—AND those taught at Hamline during the last academic year (course numbers, titles, and semesters taught)
  3. The most recent 3 academic year(s) you’ve taught at least one course or lab at Hamline.
  4. Describe the PD opportunity or resource for which you are seeking funding.
  5. Explain how this PD opportunity or resource will enhance your teaching at Hamline.
  6. Provide funding amount requested ($600 maximum) and budget, listing all relevant expenses (e.g., registration, lodging, travel expenses, resource costs).

So far we have not fully utilized all the Professional Development Funds available under the contract. This was one of the most significant gains in our contract, and it would be great to see these funds used by many in our unit. Please consider applying!

Carol Hanson, SEIU staff, will again be leading our contract negotiations this summer. If you haven’t done so yet, it’s VERY IMPORTANT to complete our Hamline Bargaining Survey. It will take 15-20 minutes to complete, but your input is crucial in helping us set our bargaining priorities. Carol is also currently reaching out to various members to set up meetings for more in-depth conversations. If you’d like to meet with her, please contact her (email below).

Our first contract expires August 31, 2018. We’ll file to re-open negotiations in June 2018. This round of bargaining will be MUCH easier than the sixteen months it took to reach our first contract. We hope it only takes several sessions scheduled over the summer—but it remains incredibly important work, both to strengthen parts of our initial contract and to continue to make gains across the board for our members. You don’t need to be at every session to participate in bargaining. The more faces we bring to the table over the summer—even if only for a session or two—makes a big impact on negotiations. (And gives you a first-person sense of what your union is all about.) If you’re interested in joining the bargaining team, please let David or Steve know.

We’ll be ramping up the frequency of our Union Stew messages as we move into bargaining—and are working on a plan to maintain better consistency moving forward. Please keep an eye out for messages in your inbox!

Please like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/HamlineAdjuncts – it’s the best way to stay on top of our own events and announcements as well as a place to find other news related to labor and higher education.

SEIU Local 284’s annual Saint Paul Saints picnic and game night is June 12, 2018. Join with other union members for a pre-game picnic at 5:30 p.m.; the game follows at 7:05 p.m. $14 covers both the picnic and the game. The union has a fixed number of tickets available. You can order yours online.

We hope your semester is going well. As always, we’re happy to meet with any of you to discuss any concerns or ideas.

David Weiss & Steve Boland – Unit Stewards

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