MICA’s Fred Lazarus: This Union Thing is Moving Too Fast
It is universally acknowledged that whenever a group of workers try to form or join a labor union, a group of bosses will do whatever is in their power to dissuade them. This is understandable, from the managers’ point of view. Squeezed by budget and time constraints on one side, productivity and regulatory demands on the other, the notion of losing yet more control (and facing yet more bureaucracy) does not usually please them.
Things are no different in the factory town known as higher education, as this memo from MICA President Fred Lazarus illustrates:
Date: March 19, 2014
To: Members of the MICA Community
From: Fred Lazarus
Re: Efforts to Unionize MICA Part-time Faculty
As many of you have no doubt heard, on March 7 the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) filed a petition to unionize MICA’s part-time faculty. The SEIU petition is part of a nationwide effort to increase the union’s membership by organizing adjunct faculty.
This week, we expect that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) will schedule an election on unionization. I will provide you the details once that occurs.
The decision to bring in this union will rest with the part-time faculty, but it is a critical decision that will impact the entire College. It is the most important governance decision that will be made at MICA in my 35 year tenure and will influence the future of the College and its culture for decades to come. Because of the federal labor law, this decision now has to be made within a month – a period that is already the busiest of the year and one of great transition. It is hard to imagine that any of us would have willingly put a decision of this magnitude on this timetable or at this time of year.
MICA has had a culture of debate and discussion on areas of governance. Decision making at MICA has always been inclusive and deliberate. Indeed, simpler issues facing the College were studied for months, and sometimes years, before a final decision was reached.
I hope the part-time faculty will recognize the seriousness of this decision and that more time is needed. If the part-time faculty decide that more time is needed, they can vote against unionization at this time and an election could occur again in a year, after the decision has been fully studied and researched. Because this is such an important decision, it is imperative that all of the part-time faculty vote in the election.
I personally think this decision is critically important to the future of this College. I encourage the faculty assembly to have special meetings to discuss the pros and cons here. I hope the part-time faculty will also hold meetings to discuss this subject.
If any of you have questions or concerns, I hope you will call me at (410) 225-2237, or email me at FLazarus@mica.edu. Thanks for your attention to this important issue.
For more on the unionization effort by MICA’s adjunct faculty, see last week’s cover story.