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TCPL faculty will be included in the vote for unionization, librarians and VAPs ineligible

The State Employment Relations Board (SERB) has reached its decision on who can be included in Miami University’s proposed faculty union. As it stands, tenure and tenure-track faculty and non-tenure-track teaching, clinical professors and lecturers (TCPL) faculty are eligible to participate in the union.

The decision means that librarians and visiting assistant professors (VAPs) will not be included in the proposed collective bargaining unit brought forth by the Faculty Alliance of Miami (FAM), as the group had previously advocated for.

The date of the election has not yet been set by SERB. However, according to Miami’s Informed Choice website, the university anticipates more information on the election process within a few weeks.

“In the coming weeks, we expect SERB to issue a Notice for Representation Election,” the website reads. “This notice will provide a description of the proposed bargaining unit, the election period, the employment date used to determine voter eligibility, a sample ballot, and the tallying date for ballots.”

Miami Provost Liz Mullenix informed faculty members of the decision made by SERB in an email sent on March 9.

“Though the Miami administration favors an independent faculty and does not support unionization, it recognizes that faculty have a right to organize and that this decision rests solely in the hands of those within the proposed [collective bargaining unit],” Mullenix wrote.

Mullenix wrote that Miami expects the election to take place via mail-in ballot and eligible voters will have 14 days to mail their ballot once the polling period opens.

On March 10, FAM shared a post on its website disagreeing with the decision.

“It’s unfair and disappointing that our colleagues who contribute so much to the academic mission of the university are being excluded,” the post read. “Rather than trying to divide us, the administration could have chosen to listen to faculty’s desire to unionize together.”

The road to unionization so far

In February 2022, Miami University’s American Association of University Professors (AAUP) announced it would seek unionization for full-time tenured and non-tenured track (NTT) faculty members and librarians in its bargaining unit.

Daniel Hall, a professor of justice and community studies and political science, spoke at a Board of Trustees meeting on March 3 to speak for FAM. He, along with many FAM supporters, went to the meeting advocating for the university to allow faculty members to vote on the proposed unit as it was.

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“The great majority of faculty are motivated by their love of teaching, mentoring, and research. Unionization will not impact that reality,” Hall said. “The faculty have spoken. We want to unionize and we want tenure-track faculty, TCPLs, and librarians to be in a single unit.”

FAM had been acquiring authorization cards from faculty who supported the union before the university filed an objection with SERB to oppose the inclusion of non-tenured track faculty and librarians in the proposed bargaining unit. SERB scheduled the hearings for December 2022. 

Part of the hearing focused on whether or not VAPs could be considered seasonal employees. Seasonal employees are defined as a group where only 60% returns each year.

Miami and FAM didn’t agree on how to classify if a VAP returned. Miami only considered VAPs returning if they stayed in the VAP position, placing them below the 60% figure. FAM, on the other hand, calculated that more than 60% of VAPs are retained at Miami each year, if VAPs who change positions are included in the statistic.

FAM and the university have been waiting for SERB’s decision since the conclusion of the hearings in late December. Faculty members were not allowed to vote on the proposed unit until SERB reached its decision.

This is a developing story and will continue to be updated as more information becomes available.