April 14, 2009 – “MEA-MFT is proud to welcome our newest members and local bargaining units, the Associated Faculty of Montana State University in Bozeman,” said MEA-MFT President Eric Feaver today.
(Read news accounts of this historic vote.)
A jubilant Dr. Kristen Intemann, professor at MSU-Bozeman, reports the good news about the MSU vote.
“All Montana public college and university faculty are now MEA-MFT. No exceptions. This could well be a unique event among public state colleges and universities across the nation. All of us here at MEA-MFT are excited and proud of our new members.”
Tenure track and adjunct faculty voted separately, thus forming two separate unions, both affiliated with MEA-MFT. The votes were counted today by the state Board of Personnel Appeals in Helena. “Two votes, one faculty voice,” said Karen Leech, an adjunct professor of Music who has given 37 years of service to the university.
“We’ve had two elections and will bargain two contracts, but weare united. I am delighted with the results of both union votes. I look forward to working with my colleagues in improving our working conditions through collective bargaining.”
The faculty Organizing Committee began forming in the fall of 2007 to explore the possibility of seeking union representation. Committee members, eventually numbering around 50 professors, spent two years visiting with their colleagues all over campus about workplace issues and the desire for union representation.
“We are interested in having a voice at the table with MSU administration,” said Sandy Osborne, a professor in Health and Human Development and Organizing Committee member.
“In talking with unionized faculty around the state, we saw that union representation ensures that faculty can work with administration — backed by a legally enforceable contract that guarantees the rights of both parties. It makes us legal equals with administration. We decided that forming a union would help us do a better job of providing for our students and attracting highly qualified professors to MSU.”
“Individual faculty representing departments across the entire university, from Nursing to Agriculture and from Arts to Sciences, worked hard to get to this vote,” said Jim Robison-Cox, a Statistics professor in the Mathematical Sciences Department and an Organizing Committee member.
“The process provided opportunities for discussion across disciplines to identify issues of concern to the faculty. We will build on and deepen these discussions, reaching out to the entire MSU faculty, to identify issues for the bargaining table. Our working relationship with the administration has been positive through the voting process, and we look forward to constructively bargaining to improve the working environment (and hence the overall quality) of MSU.”
“We look forward to representing all faculty at MSU-Bozeman regardless of how they voted,” said Feaver. “We look forward to helping them bargain their first contracts and getting them fully engaged in the work of our union.”
MEA-MFT represents 17,500 Montana K-12 educators, higher education faculty, public employees, Head Start, and health care employees. MEA-MFT is affiliated with the National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers.