Over 90 percent of qualifying NMU adjuncts voted in favor of making American Association of University Professors as their collective bargaining representative.
The votes were counted Friday, Oct. 21 by the Lansing MERC office. Ballots had to be in no later than Thursday, Oct. 20. A total of 59 out of 100 qualifying adjuncts voted in the election. Qualifying adjuncts consisted of those who have taught a minimum of 16 credits over the past two years.
“This is an important day for our chapter,” said AAUP president Ron Sundell. “The overwhelming positive vote by the adjuncts shows that we are now poised to become a significant unified force of almost 400 AAUP members.”
The result of the election was 54 in favor of including qualifying adjuncts into NMU-AAUP, with only five dissenting votes. Now that results are in, it has to be certified by MERC, which should take about two weeks, Sundell said.
“We are now waiting for the letter from MERC,” Sundell said. “It is just a formality; it’s a done deal. All those that meet criteria will be in the union.”
The next step for adjuncts now that they will be part of AAUP is to form an AAUP committee, Committee C. According to current NMU Coalition of Contingent Faculty leadership Jamie Kuehnl, the committee will consist of anyone who is currently represented by the union, including the newly accreted adjuncts.
“The Committee on Contingent Faculty will be formed so that the hopes and concerns of represented adjuncts can be heard by the union and on all academic fronts,” Kuehnl said.
Committee C will create its bylaws and elect a committee chairperson within the next month, Kuehnl said. Once the chairperson is appointed, he or she will represent contingent faculty at all AAUP executive committee meetings and on the bargaining council as well.
“We had support from the AAUP state executive council, as well as the national,” Sundell said. “This is an exciting moment for all AAUP chapters, especially when many public unions are under attack.”
The current AAUP contract expires June 30, 2012. According to Sundell, the union will get together late winter or early spring to start the bargaining process and integrate qualifying adjuncts into the language for the next AAUP contract.
“AAUP will work with adjuncts to get what they want and what can do for them, in meanings of salary, compensation and other benefits,” Sundell said.
What exactly will be in the contract is to be determined. AAUP will put together a proposal and the NMU administration will have a separate one. AAUP then presents their proposal to the administration and the negotiation process will begin,” Sundell said.
Members will then eventually vote on the final proposal and decide whether they want to agree to it or not. Union fees have yet to be established as well. According to Sundell, the tuition rate for students is not tied to pay scales, whether it is current or new union members.
“This is not going to be easy,” Sundell said. “We will have to come up with a proposal that everyone can support.”
According to Kuehnl, the new three-year AAUP contract will have language specifically geared towards represented adjuncts. It will go into effect in fall 2012.
“Current CCF leadership hopes that CCF will remain in existence for the adjuncts who are not currently represented by the NMU-AAUP,” Kuehnl said.
With CCF leadership roles soon to be vacant, the future existence of CCF will be determined on whether these positions will be filled or not.
“With (adjuncts) voices heard, the AAUP can proficiently bargain for what the adjuncts currently feel is imperative to a successful teaching and learning environment for NMU students,” Kuehnl said.