Faculty delivered signed union cards to the Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services Wednesday to trigger an election to form a faculty union at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities campus.
“Tenured, tenure-track, and non-tenure-track contingent faculty from every college of the University’s flagship campus have signed cards in support of forming a union so they can gain a stronger voice in University governance and a stronger voice at the State Capitol to support the institution,” according to MN Academics United, an affiliate of Service Employees International Union Local 284.
“We want to work with the administration as equal partners to help them resist the pressures that divert resources from our classrooms and labs,” said Teri Caraway, an associate professor of Political Science. “We are not forming a union in search of a bigger paycheck, but because our working conditions have deteriorated as resources for teaching and research have dwindled and the proportion of tenured positions has declined. We want to keep the University’s energy and resources focused on our core mission.”
Meredith Gill, a senior lecturer in Cultural Studies & Comparative Literature, said, “Contingent faculty carry an increasing teaching load and perform many ‘faculty-like’ advisory and service duties for which we are rarely compensated or credited. We are forming one union, together with tenure-line faculty, because we all work together as instructional faculty and have a common interest in improving the conditions of teaching and learning at the University.”
Once faculty file for an election, the State Bureau of Mediation Services will work with faculty and University administrators to negotiate the details of the election, including exactly who all will be eligible to vote, which may take a few months. 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.
U of M faculty began organizing to form a union last year. Adjunct faculty at Hamline University voted overwhelmingly to join SEIU Local 284 in June of 2014, and reached a tentative agreement for their first union contract last month.
Workers are organizing through unions and other organizations to improve their lives. Union representation provides a voice on the job and the opportunity to improve wages, benefits and working conditions.