Union drive gaining steam

Kelly Wittman

Academic Health Center officials moved closer to joining the University faculty movement to unionize Wednesday when they obtained a cease-and-desist order from the Bureau of Mediation Services.
Professor David Hamilton announced Wednesday at a meeting of the University Faculty Alliance that members of the health center had turned in signed bargaining cards to the bureau at 10 a.m. and obtained a cease-and-desist order at 3 p.m. The order covers not only the health center on the Twin Cities campus, but also the medical school on the Duluth campus, he said.
The order prevents changes in the terms of employment of any health center faculty members; a similar order already covers most other professors. However, the order does not mean health center faculty members are part of the unionization drive yet, Hamilton said, but it does authorize members of the center to vote on whether to become part of the collective bargaining unit that already exists.
Even so, Regent Jean Keffeler has said the tenure issue came about as a result of restructuring in the Academic Health Center.
Currently, the collective bargaining unit contains faculty members in most of the University colleges, excluding the health center and the Law School.
Issues concerning the union election drive currently going on in the faculty alliance were also resolved at the meeting. About 50 members of the organization attended the meeting and voted to support the alliance with the American Association of University Professors, should the election of a union be successful.
Professor Paula Rabinowitz said the movement to make the professors association the only collective barging agent comes from the faculty’s original goals. These include the protection of academic freedom.
A veteran of the 1981 union election among faculty members, Professor Art Geffen said the reason the AAUP should be chosen as the only bargaining agent stems from problems in the last election. He said there was an elitist feeling among faculty members — that because faculty members weren’t high school teachers or machinists they didn’t need a union. But is is only logical for them to support AAUP, a professors’ group, he said. “They can’t deny they’re professors.”
Faculty alliance members also heard that they will be receiving help from the national AAUP chapter in their campaign to unionize. Jack Nightingale, a national field representative for the professors association told members that his association is already working on a budget for its union campaign.
No date for an election has been set, said Steve Gordon, a lawyer assisting the facutly alliance. The best way to go about an election would be a process known as a voluntary labor check, Gordon said. This check is a process where names of those who have signed collective bargaining cards are checked against a payroll list. If a majority of the people on the payroll list have signed bargaining cards the union is considered approved.