by DAILY EDITORIAL BOARD
Last Wednesday, faculty at the University of Minnesota filed a petition to vote on whether to unionize. This move is the most recent advancement of a unionization agenda that has been forming on campus for several years.
Now this petition will proceed to the state’s Bureau of Mediation Services, which will determine what types of faculty members are eligible to vote on and join the faculty union.
Organizers expect the union will number approximately 2,500 employees, including contingent faculty alongside tenured and tenure-track instructors.
We believe it is critical that contingent faculty are included. As state funding for public universities continues to decline (both in Minnesota and nationwide), colleges are more frequently relying on adjunct professors. These instructors earn lower wages than tenure-track faculty, and they struggle with increased job instability. Even tenure-track professors are stretched thin, trying to balance increased workloads in the face of declines in financial support and tenure-track hiring.
A union would enable greater participation for faculty in administrative processes, which could potentially result in more support for adjunct professors and increased hiring of tenure-track faculty. This would allow instructors more time to develop classwork and form relationships with students instead of frantically working to stay on top of grading and keep up with other basic classroom tasks.
Stronger instructor-student relationships could also result in more innovative research projects and educational engagement, which would reflect positively on the University. Because of these benefits, we wholeheartedly support faculty unionization.