St. Thomas adjunct professors reject union

Categories: Education
StThomas.jpg
The arched entryway to St. Thomas's St. Paul campus.
Weeks after Hamline University adjuncts became the first in the state to form their own union, St. Thomas adjuncts voted against following suit.

In the days following Hamline's vote, adjuncts at the school expressed confidence that St. Thomas would head down the same path. But in voting tallied Monday, St. Thomas adjuncts voted against unionizing by a 136-84 margin.

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We contacted Service Employees International Union spokesman Josh Keller for comment. He referred us to this statement put together by St. Thomas organizing committee leaders Lucy Saliger (English), Kara ZumBahlen (art history) and Jason Skirry (philosophy):
We are disappointed with the results of today's election, but are incredibly proud of the gains this campaign achieved by bringing the reality faced by adjuncts at St. Thomas out of the shadows. By starting this process, we've initiated a long-overdue dialogue with leadership at St. Thomas that has not happened for far too long. We will continue our fight to improve higher education for adjunct faculty and the students we serve, but we know a union contract is the only way to attain and secure the things we need to address the crisis facing adjunct faculty across the state and country. We look forward to taking part in the meetings proposed by President Sullivan where we will continue to advocate for ways to improve conditions for adjuncts. We are more determined than ever to ensure that St. Thomas lives more fully by its mission statement for students and all members of its community, including adjunct faculty.
In a statement of her own, St. Thomas President Julie Sullivan writes that she's "pleased" about the vote and adds, "As soon as I am permitted to do so under the law, I am prepared to communicate and initiate an action plan addressing the top-level adjunct faculty priorities identified over the past year."

"These priorities include adjunct faculty benefits, compensation, differentiated contracts based on workloads, consistency in contract issue dates, a formal role in the shared governance process, professional development funding, established venues for communication and interaction among adjunct faculty and with the administration, and more meaningful opportunities for engagement in the life of the university," Sullivan continues.

"I want to thank each of the adjunct faculty, who held varying opinions about union representation, for participating in the constructive dialogue that has occurred since the petition was filed two months ago. I am grateful that my administration had the opportunity to hear firsthand from so many of you about the election as well as the pleasure you derive from teaching at St. Thomas."

Though the SEIU has until July 28 to file formal objections about the campaign leading up to the St. Thomas vote, Keller tells us he isn't aware of any plans to do so.

With the Hamline campaign in the rear-view mirror, a unionization vote at Macalester indefinitely delayed, and the St. Thomas result now in the books, Keller, asked about whether any other adjunct unionization campaigns are forthcoming, says, "That's it for now."

Send your story tips to the author, Aaron Rupar. Follow him on Twitter @atrupar.






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6 comments
MicheleBachmann
MicheleBachmann topcommenter

It's amazing how many stupid people hate on unions.   The only way to get fair wages and treated decently by your employer is forming a union.   History shows people what happens without unions.   Anyone who tries to tell you unions are bad is either stupid or a liar.   Why do you think corporations fight unions so hard?   They know a union means higher wages and fairer treatment.  

Kenny Hilliard
Kenny Hilliard

Way to go St. Thomas adjunct progressors. You are satisfied with your current status. And why would you want to have to pay your hard earned money to a group that uses it for political action without your support while the union leadership gets richer.

kurt124
kurt124 topcommenter

That's great news for St. Thomas students and folks who pay for higher education.

Unions are the problem in education.  Tenure, guarantee's even if you suck as a teacher. The Holy Alliance between Unions and Democrats has to go.   Democrats support Unions and Unions support democrats.  It's money laundering.   Down with Unions in education, public of private!

mingtran
mingtran topcommenter

Great news for St. Thomas, that's why it's one of the best private schools in the country.

gynnady
gynnady

I can't diss against this. The point of a union vote is to determine if the employees at an establishment want to work as a union. If they choose no, and there's no suggestion of influence, then Godspeed to them and let's go to the next vote. There will always be another vote.

notoday
notoday

@mingtran according to you maybe, that's not the word on the HR street. 

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