Miami University faculty closer to union approval, though some not included

OXFORD —A state board ruling moves Miami University closer to seeing an employee vote on whether some of its faculty can form a labor union.

It’s been a nearly three-year effort by the Faculty Alliance of Miami (FAM) and this week’s decision by the State Employment Relations Board (SERB) allows the faculty group to include some Miami employees in an upcoming union authorization vote but not others.

Teaching professors, clinical faculty and lecturers (TCPL) — longer-term contract faculty — will be included in the (possible new union) unit along with tenured and tenure-track faculty, according to a statement released by alliance officials.

But SERB officials excluded instructors, visiting assistant professors, librarians and those in hybrid faculty-staff positions, they said.

The pro-union officials, which have been seeking to unionize the school’s faculty since spring 2020, described the state’s ruling as a “mixed bag” and said they were disappointed about the Miami employees who are not allowed to vote on or join any newly formed union.

“We are one faculty, working together to deliver educational quality to our students,” said Todd Edwards, a professor of mathematics education. “The judge recognized that for the majority of faculty at Miami, which is a good thing. But we all deserve collective bargaining rights.”

But Miami officials said the ruling is not a positive for the school, which is Butler County’s largest employer with workers at the main Oxford campus and regional campuses in Hamilton and Middletown as well as a Learning Center in West Chester Twp.

“The university administration does not believe faculty unionization is the best path forward for Miami University,” said school officials in a statement prompted by questions from the Journal-News.

“However, we also recognize faculty have the right to organize and that the decision to be represented by a union rest solely in the hands of eligible voters,” they said.

“With this decision, SERB affirms the university’s position that FAM’s proposed bargaining unit — of all full-time faculty at all campuses, including tenure/tenure-track faculty (and others) — is not appropriate given the distinct differences in those groups’ respective terms and conditions of employment.”

Miami officials added: “In the coming weeks, we expect SERB will issue a Notice of Election outlining the dates that the voting period will begin and end, as well as the process for voting.”

“For those tenure/tenure-track and TCPL faculty who are eligible to vote in an election, we encourage you to thoughtfully consider this important decision. It is one of the most important decisions Miami faculty will ever make,” said school officials.

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