STAR TRIBUNE: Adjunct faculty at Augsburg approve union

STAR TRIBUNE: Adjunct faculty at Augsburg approve union

Augsburg campus
Adjunct Faculty at Augsburg College Vote to Join SEIU Local 284 in Push to Raise Standards
November 23, 2016
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Reclaim Higher ED
February 23, 2017
Augsburg campus

It could become third local school in two years to do so. 

http://www.startribune.com/adjunct-faculty-at-augsburg-approve-union/402679945/

By Maura Lerner 

Adjunct instructors at Augsburg College have voted to form a union, joining a national movement to improve pay and working conditions for part-time faculty, organizers announced Wednesday.

The union will represent more than 200 part-time instructors — but not tenured faculty — at the private Minneapolis liberal arts college, organizers said.

In a mail-in ballot, the vote was 76 to 63 in favor of forming the union, according to the Service Employees International Union Local 284, which sponsored the organizing effort.

However, Augsburg issued a statement Wednesday afternoon saying the outcome could still change depending on what happens to 22 votes that were challenged and not yet counted.

The ballots, which are subject to review, were questioned on the grounds of voter eligibility, the statement said.

If the results hold, Augsburg will become the third private college in the Twin Cities to form a faculty union in the past two years. Hamline University in St. Paul was the first in 2014, followed by the Minneapolis College of Art and Design last month.

“I voted yes to form an adjunct faculty union at Augsburg because I love teaching here, but I pay more in child care than I make from teaching and it is unsustainable,” said Jessica Ennis, who teaches physics, in a news release announcing the results of the vote.

In a campus e-mail, Provost Karen Kaivola promised that the college would continue to operate “openly, honestly and in good faith” no matter what the outcome.

“If the final vote affirms that unionization is the majority’s choice, some of the direct engagement we’ve enjoyed will change, but I am confident that, no matter the result or the scenario, our commitment to teaching and learning and to our students’ success will remain a shared priority,” she wrote.

Nationwide, more than 13,000 college and university instructors have formed unions as part of a three-year organizing effort by the SEIU. The campaign has focused mainly on adjunct instructors, who are typically paid far less and get fewer benefits than tenured faculty.

A similar organizing effort is underway at the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus.