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Date set for faculty union vote, librarians push forward with own bargaining unit

Miami University librarians' proposed bargaining unit was agreed to by the university's administration.
Miami University librarians' proposed bargaining unit was agreed to by the university's administration.

This story has been updated to include a statement from Miami University.

Miami University faculty will officially decide if they unionize through a vote April 18 through May 2, according to an April 9 press release from the Faculty Alliance of Miami (FAM). Librarians will also get to vote later in the year on whether to form their own union, after their proposed bargaining unit was agreed to by the university’s administration.

Spokespeople for the faculty union were not immediately available to comment.

Ginny Boehme, a science librarian at Miami, said FAM’s lawyers will now work with the State Employment Relations Board (SERB), the university’s administration and the university’s lawyers to decide on a date to hold their elections.

“Once the two parties agree, then it will get filed with [SERB], [SERB] will organize the ballots, and we will have our election,” Boehme said.

The unit hopes to vote sometime this summer.

In a statement to The Miami Student Tuesday, April 11, Alecia Lipton, associate director of media relations, wrote the university does not support unionization, but they respect the rights of the librarians to organize.

"Miami University believes that a secret ballot election is the fairest and most accurate way to determine whether a majority of the proposed bargaining unit wishes to be represented by a union," Lipton wrote. "An election provides for a democratic and inclusive process. It also ensures that every voice is heard and respected."

Lipton said the university will ensure the librarians have the right to vote to reflect the majority opinion.

"When the time comes, we encourage all Miami Librarians who are eligible to exercise their right to vote as the election will be decided by a simple majority," Lipton wrote.

The announcement comes less than one month after the librarians officially filed for recognition as a collective bargaining unit when SERB excluded the group from FAM’s first bargaining unit.

“When the Labor Board originally came to their decision, back in March, on the larger group structure, obviously we were left out,” Boehme said. “We had sort of an emergency strategy session and had conversations with all the librarians here to get a feel for what we wanted to do, and the response was pretty much unanimous. We want to continue. We still want to be part of FAM.”

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The proposed faculty union that will be voted on later this month includes tenure-track, tenured, teaching, clinical professors and lecturers. According to the press release, this demographic makes up for 80% of Miami’s faculty.

“The election will be conducted by mail by the State Employment Relations Board (SERB) and ballots will be tallied on May 17,” the release said.

Boehme said despite the outcome of the first bargaining unit’s election, the librarians will still hold their own election.

“I'm really really really enthusiastic to see the results because I think they're gonna win,” Boehme said. “I think they’re going to win big.”