State denies U’s appeal in unionization push

On Nov. 30, the Bureau of Mediation Services announced they will uphold their decision.

by Rilyn Eischens

Lecturers and teaching specialists will be allowed to remain in a potential faculty union at the University of Minnesota according to a Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services decision announced Nov. 29.

This fall the University challenged a September BMS decision to allow some positions like teaching specialists and lecturers to be included and tenured faculty members to be part of the same bargaining unit as part of a long-running dispute over who would be allowed in a union.

The University has argued that the decision violates Minnesota law by adding four new employee categories previously classified in different units.

The University has 30 days from the decision date to decide whether to proceed with a court appeal. The school has previously said it will challenge the decision in court.

“We are disappointed with this ruling,” said University Director of Employee Relations Patti Dion in an email to faculty. “The Bureau’s decision to change the long-standing definition of faculty is a major shift from the historically well-defined faculty role in our research university.”

In an emailed statement, Minnesota Academics United, which is organizing the faculty union push at the University, said it was pleased with the BMS’ ruling.

“We are generally pleased with the … BMS ruling and are looking forward to continuing to work towards an election,” the email said.

This isn’t the first time the University clashed with the BMS during the faculty unionization efforts. This spring, the University objected to BMS-lead hearings reviewing which faculty members would be eligible to take part in a union vote and challenged the process in the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

The court denied the University’s request, calling it non-appealable because BMS hadn’t made any final decisions about employee classification.

While organizers initially expected a vote on faculty unionization by the end of the semester, it is unclear whether further progress will be made this year.