The University of Minnesota is asking the state Court of Appeals to slow down a historic union-organizing effort among faculty at the Twin Cities campus. Union supporters today branded the university’s decision as divisive and wasteful.
“We are forming a union so we can gain a stronger voice in university governance, and this is a perfect example of why,” Associate Professor Irene Duranczyk said in a media release issued by MN Academics United, the SEIU-backed union supporting faculty members’ organizing drive.
The university’s appeal seeks to divide tenure-track and contract faculty members, who successfully petitioned the state Bureau of Mediation Service to be united in one bargaining unit earlier this year. That set the stage for approximately 2,500 faculty members to vote in a union election.
Professor Jerry Cohen said faculty rejected the idea of separating tenure-track and contract faculty because they saw a common need for a greater voice at the U. “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,” Cohen said.
As part of its appeal, the university will request a stay of pre-election hearings to determine who is eligible to vote in the union election. If granted, it could delay a vote by up to a year.
Resorting to time-consuming, costly delay tactics is a move straight out of the corporate anti-union playbook, and faculty members, students and lawmakers were not shy in expressing their disappointment.
“We are dismayed by the University’s decision to spend months of administrative time and untold sums of taxpayer and tuition dollars on costly outside counsel to fight us, their own faculty, rather than just letting us choose for ourselves whether or not we want a union,” said Meredith Gill, a senior lecturer in cultural studies and comparative literature.
Alex Peeper, an undergraduate studying history and political science, blasted university administrators for “spending their time and our tuition dollars fighting our faculty instead of fighting for us.”
Sen. Patricia Torres-Ray, a DFLer from Minneapolis, warned: “The university can’t afford to waste its limited resources fighting against their own faculty.”