Union files Demand to Bargain with university over contract
The Union of Teaching Faculty has filed a Demand to Bargain with Central Michigan University because of what it called “changes to working conditions” without prior consultation.
The Demand to Bargain does not open the UTF contract, which expires in 2020. The action is used to address issues that arise between contracts.
The UTF filed the action Aug. 26. The decision was made after a number of faculty members were denied promotions or were not reappointed in the College of Business Administration last semester, according to a UTF press release.
Union members believe the decision was based on the misapplication of accreditation standards. They fear others could also be in danger of losing their jobs.
The UTF also took issue with an evaluation and promotion system within the college it believes violates the contract and was implemented without consulting the union, officials said.
Sue Murphy, a lecturer in the department of English Language and Literature and the chief steward of the UTF, said the Demand to Bargain was filed because members could not get Faculty Personnel Services to discuss their grievances.
Murphy said the union has never had an issue like this before.
The union took the measure because it was advised by American Federation of Teachers, Murphy said.
As part of the latest UTF contract, fixed-term faculty members that had been at CMU for five years could apply for a promotion provided by a contract.
Three people in the College of Business Administration applied for lecturer three positions, Murphy said. They were told they would not have a job because they did not meet standards of accreditation applied to college.
“(Those people) had never heard of that. There was no way they could have done the work they needed to do to get a higher degree, (do) more research, get published and things like that,” Murphy said.
The union wants to add contract information that would be inserted as a memorandum of understanding, which asks the union to be told in advance when faculty are required to meet the standards they haven’t had to in the past.
Murphy believes FPS is unhappy union members filed a Demand to Bargain without talking to them first. She said the UTF made attempts to contact, but they refused.
“We’re at a standstill right now. I don’t know what will happen next,” she said.
Calls to Dennis Armistead, executive director of FPS, and Scott Hoffman, director of faculty employee relations at FPS, Wednesday morning for comment for this story were not returned.
Murphy said the union is calling this an unfair labor practice.
“They had no way to know they had to do something further to keep their jobs,” she said.
On Monday morning, the UTF president discovered he was blocked from sending emails to members, Murphy said.
“That’s never happened before here,” she said.
The president was told by a member of FPS he was aware the email was blocked and was hoping it would not be a quick fix, Murphy said.
“They were letting us know they’re angry and they’re going to fight,” she said.
The two sides plan to meet Sept. 5 for a meeting required by Article 7 of the current contract.
“What we want our members to know is that we’re working for them and we’re doing everything we can to fix this problem,” Murphy said. “We’re sorry we can’t communicate directly with them right now.”
More than 370 full and part-time fixed-term faculty members on CMU’s main campus are represented by the UTF, which is a member of the CMU Joint Union Council and an affiliate of AFT-Michigan, the American Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO).