Faculty, regents to consult on tenure

by Jennifer Niemela

The Board of Regents agreed to a faculty offer to discuss tenure Friday before union elections take place next week.
The offer, included in a Jan. 9 letter to the board from members of the Faculty Consultative Committee, the American Association of University Professors and the University Faculty Alliance, invited regents to discuss changes to the tenure codes at Morris and the Law School.
The Sullivan II compromise tenure code was passed for the Law School and Morris in November and includes parts of earlier faculty and regents’ proposals. Regents and faculty groups will only discuss amendments to Sullivan II as implemented at Morris and the Law School that were proposed to the Faculty Senate on Jan. 23.
“We’re excited to host this meeting,” said V. Rama Murthy, president of the Twin Cities chapter of the American Association of University Professors. “I think this is a good beginning to the tenure negotiations.”
The changes proposed by the senate include an amendment to the section dealing with departmental termination. The Faculty Senate is proposing that, in the event of a program’s termination, the University would attempt to relocate the faculty to other teaching positions within their fields. If the relocation involved a move between campuses, the University would provide for travel or moving expenses.
In an e-mail message to faculty Friday, Murthy said resolution of this issue would lead to a request that the Bureau of Mediation Services lift the status quo order that has kept regents from discussing tenure with faculty groups.
“This offer reflected our firm belief that settling the issue … is in our best interests,” the e-mail message said.
In other developments Friday, University President Nils Hasselmo sent Murthy and faculty alliance chairman Tom Walsh a letter chastising them for offering to drop charges of unfair election practices in the Academic Health Center union drive last fall in exchange for a neutral stance on the upcoming faculty union election. The AAUP and the alliance made the offer early last week in a letter to Hasselmo.
The faculty organizations allege unfair election practices by various administrators during the AHC union drive last fall, including e-mail messages to faculty encouraging them not to drive for a union election. The mediation bureau has scheduled the AHC election hearing for March 4, 5, and 6.
“I would fight like hell to remove those objections if the administration (would commit to neutrality on the union election),” Murthy said.
In his letter, Hasselmo denied that administrators had engaged in unfair election practices.
“I will not allow the University to engage in plea-bargain’-type tactics which leave the impression that these individuals have somehow violated our state’s labor laws,” Hasselmo said in his letter. “These individuals have nothing to fear from a BMS hearing if the (faculty alliance) insists on having one.”
Hasselmo said the administration’s and regents’ views on faculty unionization are clear and that a “new… negotiation with the (faculty alliance) on the meaning of neutrality’ in the last few days (before the union election) would lead to unnecessary confusion.”
The faculty union campaign, which is being spearheaded jointly by the AAUP and the alliance, has also run into trouble regarding the use of the AAUP’s acronym. The University last week filed a motion with the mediation service that the AAUP is illegally associating itself with the union drive. Last fall when the faculty filed union cards, the only organization on the cards was the faculty alliance. The AAUP has twice asked the mediation service if they could associate themselves with the union drive and be on the union ballot, but both times the request was denied.
“If you want to organize a union, you must have the faculty OK,” University attorney Mark Rotenberg said. “The campaign is misleading; the voters need to know who they’re voting for.”
Walsh said the mediation service should have recognized that the two organizations are affiliated.
“(The University) is trying to prevent correct representation,” he said. “They’re trying to pretend an agreement (between the AAUP and the faculty alliance) doesn’t exist.”
Murthy claims that the University acknowledges the affiliation between the two groups by using the AAUP acronym in their correspondence.
“This is a campaign tactic (by the University),” he said. “(The AAUP and the faculty alliance) made an agreement to merge union campaigns way back in September.”