Date of union vote is set

Jennifer Niemela

The state set a date for the faculty union election. On Feb. 11 and 12, the remaining University faculty members will vote on whether or not to unionize.
Josh Tilsen, the Bureau of Mediation Services mediator for the union elections, confirmed the dates of the election. Twin Cities faculty members, except those in the Law School and the Academic Health Center, will be eligible to vote.
The ruling on a date comes a week after University administrators relented to faculty demands on voting eligibility. For months, negotiators for the University had opposed allowing department heads or directors to participate in the elections; dropping this objection cleared the last hurdle preventing the vote from taking place.
There have been two previous union elections at the University, in 1978 and 1981. Both ended in rejection of unionization.
If the current union drive succeeds, the University will be the largest institution in the nation to have a unionized faculty. In November, faculty at the Morris campus voted against joining any potential union, and the Law School didn’t submit enough union cards to hold an election.
The Faculty Senate met Thursday, and in addition to recognizing the date of the union election, the body reviewed the tenure code that has been adopted for the Law School and Morris. Sullivan II, a combination of regents’ and faculty proposals, hasn’t been approved by the senate in its current form. The senate will submit its proposed changes to the board sometime next month.
The senate asked to modify sections that included a clause that calls for a temporary reduction or postponement of faculty compensation, in event of financial stringency.
Another point of debate in the senate was a section of the tenure proposal dealing with reassignment of faculty in discontinued programs. The senate passed a motion asking the University to provide travel or moving expenses to faculty members who are relocated to a different institution.