Welcome to the new school year. We’re writing because this morning the Minnesota Court of Appeals reached a ruling regarding whether or not the Bureau of Mediation Service’s decision that contingent instructors holding the titles of (sr) teaching specialist and (sr) lecturer should be included in the faculty bargaining unit, as defined by State Labor Law under PELRA.
The Court of Appeals has overruled the Bureau of Mediation Services’s decision. You can read the decision here
We are disappointed that the Court of Appeals overruled the Bureau of Mediation Services (BMS). We believe that the Commissioner’s decision was the more accurate assessment of faculty labor on our campus, a decision reached based on a thorough and thoughtful process including meetings of the parties, lengthy hearings, and extensive legal arguments. We stand firm in our belief that contingent faculty and tenure-track faculty necessarily share a community of interest. The university administration’s position is driven by backwards priorities that value administrative prerogatives over intellectual excellence and student learning. The University’s position is a deliberate misinterpretation of what campus faculty do, explicitly intended to divide us in order to limit our power to protect and improve our working conditions, which are also our students’ learning conditions. Further, it relies on a fundamental disavowal of the value of our contingent colleagues’ teaching, research, and service to our campus community. This approach to university education is anachronistic and unacceptable. In spite of this unfavorable outcome in the Court of Appeals, we will continue to advocate for our students and colleagues through a variety of channels including a possible appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court.
What This Decision Means
Regardless of whether you support, oppose, or are indifferent about unionization, this is a decision that affects all faculty at the University of Minnesota. At a time when tenure-track positions are decreasing in number, and contingent faculty positions and upper-level administrative jobs are increasing, the university administration’s efforts to fight against the faculty coming together to improve working and teaching conditions fly in the face of its stated mission to provide a quality undergraduate education for its students. Please see this link for details about the background, significance, and what might come from this decision.
The MN Academics United Steering Committee
Eric Van Wyk