MN DAILY: Contingent and tenure-line instructors have a common stake in our University

MN DAILY: Contingent and tenure-line instructors have a common stake in our University

A Letter from Professor Jerry Cohen
March 10, 2016
Update on our faculty union election
March 31, 2016
by Mary Pogatshnik, Senior Teaching Specialist
Hola, mi nombre es Mary Pogatshnik, one of more than 1,000 contingent instructors who teach at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities campus.
It is both a pleasure and honor to teach beginning Spanish courses in the Spanish and Portuguese Department. I’ve taught at the University since 2001, and I have advanced personally and professionally alongside some of the most accomplished scholars and teachers in their fields.
In all of those 15 years, however, I have taught on one-year contracts.
As a contingent instructor, I am part of the same academic community as tenure and tenure-track instructors, and that is why we are seeking to form a faculty union together.
Unfortunately, the University administration is attempting to deny me and the rest of my contingent faculty cohort — one of the highest-caliber and longest-serving cohorts in the College of Liberal Arts — from the opportunity to even vote on whether to join with our tenured and tenure-track colleagues in a union.
Forming a faculty union together is a constructive, positive act. Instructional faculty at the University are taking this step because we are already bound to the fine people of Minnesota by working at our land-grant institution. We want to deepen that commitment to our University by establishing a legal contract with our administration and strengthening our shared governance.
Together with administration, instructors at the University will be a part of the creative tension between the fiscal realities of our state and our duties to our students.
Right now, administrators at the University are under tremendous outside pressure to steer us even closer toward a business model. As instructors, we have an obligation to remain faithful to the stability of our long-term student-instructor relationships that have made the University beloved by its community and respected internationally.
The administration has nothing to fear and everything to gain by entering into a collective conversation with all instructors at the University. They should not object to our request to vote on a union together. Unidos somos fuertes.
Mary Pogatshnik
Senior Teaching Specialist
Department of Spanish and Portuguese