Oct. 09 – For decades, Montana’s public colleges and universities have been like 14 different islands, isolated and competing against each other for funding and resources.
That’s changing—and MEA-MFT faculty members are leading the charge.
The MEA-MFT family now includes local faculty unions at all 14 units of the Montana University System (MUS), with the recent addition of the faculty at Montana State University-Bozeman.
Faculty members in these unions are linking up through the Coalition of Union Faculty (formerly called the Council of Faculty Organizations).
Representatives from nearly all 14 faculty unions gathered in Helena in late August, where they began the bridge-building process. At that meeting, faculty members began hammering out goals for the group, including:
• Establish the Coalition of Union Faculty (CUF) as a fully functioning entity with regular meetings and communications among members.
• Communicate with each other on bargaining issues to avoid bargaining against one another.
• Get a seat at the table at Board of Regents meetings.
• Launch a coordinated project to advocate for a stronger, better funded higher education system in Montana.
“All is not well in the Montana University System,” said Dr. Doug Coffin, CUF member and vice president of his local faculty union at the University of Montana.
The MUS is nearly $20 million in debt, he said. Coffin and other CUF members called for joining together with University System management, staff, students, and alumni to advocate for better funding and smarter decision-making within the university system.
“Our faculty members are ready to pull together with other stakeholders,” said MEA-MFT President Eric Feaver.
“However, they’ve made it clear they’ll pull alone if they have to. MEA-MFT will be working right alongside of them.”