Wednesday, January 20, 2016

U faculty file for union vote

Read about it in the Star Tribune or the Pioneer Press. 

Here are some excerpts from The Wall Street Journal (which has the article behind a paywall.)

Labor organizers at the University of Minnesota say they have collected enough signatures to force a unionization vote for both tenured and adjunct faculty—a potential coup for unions at a time of heightened concerns about rising costs and growing student debt at the nation’s institutions of higher learning.

If faculty vote to join the Service Employees International Union, they would potentially establish the largest bargaining unit of any school in the nation since at least January 2013 when new organizing activity in higher education began to rise, said William A. Herbert, executive director of the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions at Hunter College in New York.

In the past three years, faculty and graduate students at about 65 schools have voted to join a union—a clip of nearly one school every two weeks.

Unions are advocating to represent faculty at some of the wealthiest and most prestigious schools in the nation. Last month, full- and part-time adjuncts at the University of Chicago voted to unionize. Faculty at Duke University and the University of Washington are campaigning as well.

University of Minnesota Professor Mark Borrello, who teaches the history of biology and evolutionary theory, said he was motivated to organize faculty to join a union because he believes the working conditions of part-time contingent faculty are bad and getting worse. The result: a transient workforce that was leading to a decrease in the quality of education.

“These are national trends, but they’re particularly upsetting [in Minnesota] because we’ve historically been a progressive state that prides itself on being hyper-educated and hyper-literate and when you feel like that’s not happening there’s this immense sense of frustration,” he said.

A spokesman for the university declined to comment.

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