A group called the University of Minnesota Academics United is trying to organize all faculty members at the U.
The group has sent emails to university faculty members listing reasons they should unionize. It asks them to sign an online form authorizing the Service Employees International Union to represent professors in negotiating wages, benefits and working conditions.
A union official declined to comment on the record, but confirmed that a unionization movement was underway. He said the campaign would unionize all faculty, as well as some researchers and other academic professionals.
A U spokeswoman sent this response from the university’s human resources department:
The State of Minnesota’s Public Employee Labor Relations Act defines which employee groups are eligible for labor union representation. Groups would need to work with the Minnesota State Bureau of Mediation Services to ensure they comply with state law regarding organizing.
Professors at the U do have a national organization that advocates for them — the American Association of University Professors — but it does not bargain for them.
The campaign for a union is part of a national and state effort that so far has shown mixed success in Minnesota.
Trustees of the Minnesota State college and university system approved a labor contract with university professors late this afternoon.
Inter Faculty Organization President Jim Grabowska says faculty will receive a 7 percent pay hike over two years, retroactive to last year. Adjunct faculty get similar raises.
New professors will also teach three courses their first semester instead of four, so they can adjust to their various duties. Grabowska says that’s because the workload for incoming professors can be overwhelming.
“It becomes difficult for them to do their research and teach a full load and advise students and do committee work all at the same time,” he said.
The tentative contract also gives faculty 6 weeks of paid parental leave — the first such leave they’ve received.
“Children happen when children happen, and it’s not necessarily in line with an academic year,” he said. “And nor should parents have to make a decision about when they have children according to their work schedules.”
Union members ratified the agreement by an overwhelming margin.
Minnesota lawmakers must still approve the contract.