Litigation to be brought against Mid Michigan Community College by former instructor
Mid Michigan Community College could face a lawsuit after allegedly firing former instructor Jason Liptow over a Facebook status update.
Liptow said he believes he was actually fired for trying to unionize the non-tenured faculty at the college.
“(The Facebook post) was a generic comment about, ‘You know when students ask for help too late there is nothing I can do to help them,’ … without a student’s name or any identifiers,” he said. “For me it was venting, telling other students, ‘Don’t let this happen to you.’ They said it was a breach of confidentiality … I wouldn’t have been fired for what the complaint was if I hadn’t been organizing a union.”
The American Federation of Teachers Michigan filed a charge on Liptow’s behalf against MMCC with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission Jan. 21.
It could take a little over a month for MERC to decide whether MMCC violated the law and then bring charges. Afterward, the case could continue to court, said AFT Michigan President David Hecker.
MMCC violated the law by firing Liptow for attempting to organize a union, Hecker said.
“Mr. Liptow informed the (college) administration that he was leading an effort to organize and then he was dismissed after years and years of good work,” he said. “We hope that tomorrow they say, ‘Let’s take Mr. Liptow back and give him the back pay that we owe him.’”
Liptow first discussed forming a union with AFT Michigan Organizer Jon Curtiss and four other faculty members in October. He sent a letter to the president of the college in early November because he wanted to be upfront about his actions, Liptow said. He also sent a letter to all college staff.
One of the reasons Liptow wanted to unionize the temporary faculty was the high ratio of temporary faculty to full-time professors.
There are 43 full-time faculty and 219 adjunct faculty at MMCC for the winter 2011 semester, said MMCC spokesman Matt Miller.
“We’re just trying to let people know that while Mid continues to invest money in buildings and campuses which is nice, I averaged about $14,000 a year teaching nine classes,” Liptow said. “You don’t need to make six figures as a professor, but you need to get paid for what you’re doing.”
Liptow has consistently received above average performance reviews from students and other faculty as recently as fall 2010, the charge states.
The goal of the charge is for Liptow to be reinstated to his job and receive back-pay for time lost, Hecker said. AFT Michigan also wants the college to allow open union elections if the faculty decides to unionize.
Miller said he declined comment because of the pending litigation.
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