Advocates want Miami University instructors union certified, but school says no

Administration ‘does not believe faculty unionization is the best path forward’.

OXFORD — An effort to unionize Miami University professors and other classroom instructors now sees its advocates asking the school to “to avoid a drawn out and costly election by voluntarily recognizing the union.”

But Miami officials countered Tuesday they are under no obligation to hasten the process of faculty unionization nor are they inclined to supersede the faculty’s options should they eventually want to vote on creating a labor union.

Earlier this week, officials with the Faculty Alliance of Miami (FAM) announced they had recently filed a petition for certification with the Ohio State Employment Relations Board (SERB) to form a local union chapter with the American Association of University Professors (AAUP).

Officials with FAM said the move under state labor unionization laws allows Miami’s leadership to simply recognize the group, which FAM officials said includes about 1,000 faculty members, as a collective bargaining union.

In February, FAM officials cited alleged deficiencies in work conditions and support – including job cuts – from Miami for its professors and other instructional faculty as prompting its push to form a union.

“Faculty working conditions are student learning conditions. When faculty are valued and supported, the quality of our programs and our teaching are strengthened,” said Theresa Kulbaga, professor of English at Miami Regionals and a lead FAM organizer.

But Miami officials released a statement in response to FAM’s latest move, noting while it opposes unionization, the decision to become a collective bargaining unit is best left to teachers to decide and not pre-empted by Miami bypassing a vote by faculty to recognize the union.

“Forming a collective bargaining unit will fundamentally change the way Miami administration and faculty all work together to achieve our mission and serve our students,” said school officials.

“While Miami University administration does not believe faculty unionization is the best path forward, we respect the right of Miami University faculty to unionize. This decision is, and always has been, in the hands of faculty.”

“The university believes that a secret ballot election is the fairest and most accurate way to determine whether a majority of the bargaining unit wishes to be represented by a union. An election provides for a democratic and inclusive process and removes the potential external pressure that faculty face when being asked to sign union authorization cards,” said school officials.

Moreover, they added, “the election ensures that every impacted faculty member’s voice is heard and respected, and we will fight for faculty to have that right.”

Miami’s main campus is in Oxford and the university also operates regional campuses in Hamilton and Middletown, along with a learning center in West Chester Twp. The school is the largest employer in Butler County.

FAM officials said Miami is at a crossroads in its relations with faculty.

“This is a significant moment for faculty at Miami and for collective bargaining in Ohio. The Miami University union drive builds on a national wave of higher education organizing in recent years.”

If Miami would agree to certify a teachers union, the school, said FAM officials, “would join the 10 out of 14 other four-year Ohio public universities with collective bargaining agreements and would be the largest bargaining unit to file since Bowling Green State University in 2010.”

About the Author