NEA Affiliates in Action
Ohio Education Association higher education leaders Steve Doster and Patrick McLaughlin recently testified before the Ohio House Commerce and Labor Committee in support of H.B. 365, a bill that would allow more than 13,000 part-time Ohio faculty—adjuncts and graduate assistants at public institutions of higher education—to have the same collective bargaining rights as full-time faculty. Currently, part-time faculty are exempted from “public employee” status under Ohio’s collective bargaining law.
Doster, chair of OEA's Higher Education Advisory Council and a professor of accounting and management at Shawnee State University, highlighted the challenges facing contingent faculty: low pay, no offices, and exclusion from organizational participation. He stated, “I believe that allowing my part-time colleagues to organize will significantly support the success of The Strategic Plan for Higher Education 2008–2017, including gains in retention and high quality degree programs.”
H.B. 365 is the companion bill to S.B. 129, already introduced and supported by OEA.
A Vermont labor-oriented conference inspired hundreds of students, workers, and other activists to attend a day-long labor summit at the University of Vermont. “They were inspired and energized by the opportunities that come from struggle,” according to comments posted at the Vermont-NEA Web site. Participants discussed how to engage members, strengthen unions, and work toward fair pay and benefits.
MEA-MFT faculty members now have local faculty unions at all 14 units of the Montana University System (MUS), with the recent addition of faculty at Montana State University-Bozeman. Faculty members in these unions communicate through the Coalition of Union Faculty (formerly called the Council of Faculty Organizations). Members from nearly all 14 unions gathered recently to begin establishing goals, such as organizing the coalition as a fully functioning entity with regular meetings, and avoiding bargaining against one another.
United Faculty of Florida (UFF) at the University of Florida (UF) and the UF Board of Trustees signed a new contract after five years of negotiations. It takes effect upon a ratification vote scheduled for the 16th and 17th of this month. “The agreement contains numerous advances over the previous contract and provides for stronger protections of faculty rights as well as improved benefits,” says John Biro, UFF-UF president. “We will have our first locally negotiated contract, one geared to the specific needs and aspirations of the UF faculty.”
The University of Maine System Board of Trustees recently approved a tentative agreement with the Associated Faculties of the Universities of Maine (AFUM). The membership had not voted by press-time, though is expected to by this month. AFUM President Ron Mosley, a University of Maine-Machias professor, said the agreement would go to AFUM’s bargaining council and then to members. Mosley is the author of this issue’s “Speaking Out".
Two education support professional (ESP) units at Central Community College in Nebraska that were once independent of each other in organizing, elections, and settlements, joined forces and won their first contract last summer for the current school year. The Central Community College Staff Association’s (CCCSA) hourly-unit members received an increase of 3.25 percent of current average annual salary added to the base pay of each employee. Salaried unit members received a 3.5 percent of their current salary lump sum payment, but no base salary increase. The contracts also allow for payroll deduction of dues.
The hourly unit, with 125 members, includes administrative assistants, custodians, maintenance workers, technology staff, financial aid technicians, and others. The salaried unit consists of 30 trainers, counselors, and instructional support staff.
The two units are spread across three CCC campuses and two satellite campuses. The units are now negotiating their second contract.