Faculty Union Rejects Contract
Northern's faculty union, the American Association of University Professors, has voted down a new three-year contract. The final outcome of Wednesday’s vote was 132 against the proposal and 107 in support. AAUP represents nearly 300 Northern faculty members.
“Obviously we’re disappointed that the negotiated agreement wasn’t approved,” said NMU spokesperson Cindy Paavola (Communications and Marketing). “The university will wait for AAUP leaders to get feedback from their members as to what the main issues were so that they can be brought back to the table. We remain confident that an agreement will be reached in the near future.”
According to AAUP President Ron Sundell (Geography), reaction from members indicates shared governance is the top concern. New language regarding tenure and promotion is another factor.
“Departmental bylaws have been a sticking point for more than two years,” he said. “The faculty wants departments to function effectively with bylaws that preserve some autonomy. Another problem is the recent push for scholarship. Everyone believes in it; most of us do it. But these new demands are being placed on a group that already has heavy course loads and without adequate university financial resources or reduced teaching assignments to help meet those demands. Now certainly most faculty feel that if you look at our pay scale versus comparable institutions, we’re on the low end. But the tone I’m sensing isn’t as much about finances as shared governance.”
A timeline is being developed for the re-negotiation. The AAUP executive committee is scheduled to meet Monday. Meanwhile, Sundell said he will consult with state and national AAUP organizations. “While we don’t know exactly what will happen next, we will be working with the administration to find a way forward in the process.”
Based on an informal survey of longtime employees, this is the first time anyone can recall a negotiated faculty contract being rejected by the membership.