Frequently Asked Questions
WHY SHOULD MIAMI UNIVERSITY FACULTY AND LIBRARIANS UNIONIZE?
Individually, faculty and librarians have little control over our working lives, but together, we have the power to create a better Miami. A union is an association that protects the rights and interests of its members. As a union, you and your colleagues would have the legal right to negotiate with the university on terms and conditions of your employment—including benefits, terms of appointment, shared governance, salaries, and anything else the membership has voted to prioritize. Your faculty union can negotiate binding agreements that support shared governance, academic freedom, and economic security at an especially uncertain time at Miami (and for universities in general).
WILL UNIONIZING MAKE MIAMI LESS COMPETITIVE?
No. Unionized schools include many of the research-intensive peer institutions listed on Miami’s Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness website, among them Rutgers, the SUNY system, NJIT, the University of South Florida, and the flagship public universities of Connecticut, Delaware, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
WILL A UNION SOLVE OUR PROBLEMS
A union is not a solution in and of itself. Collective bargaining is a tool that allows you and your colleagues to come together and advocate for better compensation and working conditions. Your union would give you a legal basis to negotiate items that are currently at the sole discretion of Miami’s upper administration and board of trustees
WHAT IS THE LEGAL PROCESS OF FORMING A COLLECTIVE BARGAINING UNIT OF FACULTY
Because Miami faculty and librarians are public employees, our union would follow the State of Ohio’s collective bargaining law (Ohio Revised Code 4117). While there are nuances, the basic legal process involves:
Won't a union protect faculty who aren't “pulling their weight” from any consequences?
Unions don't protect faculty from all negative performance reviews and their consequences, but instead ensure that when these things happen it is because a faculty member is actually not pulling their weight instead of other reasons. The goal of a union contract is to create transparency for faculty by setting the parameters of what is expected as far as work. If someone is not living up to this a union cannot stop them from being fired or reprimanded but does ensure that we all receive due process. By having expectations written down in a contract and by outlining a process for faculty to be reprimanded or fired we can provide protection from arbitrary dismissals.
ARE ANY OF OUR PEER INSTITUTIONS UNIONIZED
Yes. Of the 14 public institutions in Ohio, only 4 do not have a faculty union (Miami, OSU, OU, and NEOMED). There are more than 200 four-year colleges & universities that have unions with collective bargaining.
Would all full-time faculty be in the same bargaining unit
Yes. All full-time faculty (VAPs, instructors, TCPL, tenured, tenure-track) and continuing-contract-eligible librarians, regardless of promotion status, will be in the same bargaining unit. Having all of our full-time colleagues in a single unit helps prevent divisions and gives the union strength in numbers.
Can part-time faculty be in the bargaining unit
Ohio law explicitly excludes part-time faculty and graduate students from collective bargaining rights unless they have the explicit permission of the institution’s executive officer.
Will administrative appointments be eligible to vote?
While a faculty member is serving as department chair, they cannot vote in a union election or participate as a union member. When chairs leave the chair position and resume regular faculty duties, they are then able to join and fully participate. Program directors, on the other hand, may be eligible. A minimum of 50% of one’s job responsibilities needs to be academic to be in the collective bargaining unit.
If Miami faculty unionized, do I have a choice of whether or not to join the union?
Yes, if a union is certified, you and your colleagues would be able to choose whether or not to be dues-paying members of our union . Either way, everyone in the certified bargaining unit would be represented by the union and their terms and conditions of employment would be governed by what is negotiated between the University and our union. Thus, you benefit even without joining, but the union is only as strong as your participation in it, so we encourage everyone to join because we will be able to bargain for a better contract.
How much will dues be?
Dues must be voted upon by the membership and negotiated with the university. They typically fall at or below 1% of one’s base salary at other unionized campuses in Ohio. We can expect that dues will be more than made up for by salary increases, given the bargaining power a union provides. In addition, no dues will be collected from members until a contract is agreed upon and ratified by the entire membership. The majority of dues stay with the local chapter and are used at the discretion of the membership.
WHAT KIND OF THINGS CAN THE
A faculty union can negotiate virtually anything related to the terms and conditions of employment. Typical faculty collective bargaining agreements in Ohio cover compensation, health benefits, grievance procedures, family leave, professional leave, sick leave, disciplinary procedures, and much more.
Other faculty unions in Ohio have successfully negotiated for everything from the establishment of committees on diversity and inclusion to pandemic-specific memoranda of understanding (MOUs).
WILL THERE BE OPPORTUNITIES FOR ME TO PUBLICLY SHARE MY SUPPORT FOR THE UNION?
Yes! We are actively collecting signatures from faculty willing to show public support, but will delay the release of your names until a strong majority of faculty have signed, ensuring safety in numbers.
Can a faculty union negotiate workload?
Yes and no. Ohio law technically gives sole authority over workload to the boards of trustees of each campus. However, many Ohio faculty unions have MOUs regarding workload with their administrations as part of their contracts.
If we unionize, will we all get paid the same? Will merit raises go away?
No. While compensation at unionized universities is higher than at non-unionized universities, salaries at a given institution do not go up in lock-step. Contracts often specify salary floors for faculty and librarians, but not salary ceilings. If you look at collective bargaining contracts across the country, you’ll see that merit raises are usually part of the contract. Contracts also establish processes for addressing compensation inequities and for offering competitive salaries to hire and retain strong faculty.
Won’t these salary increases require taking funds from higher paid faculty to pay lower paid faculty
No. Where union contracts have secured raises for faculty and librarians, they have typically done so across the board. If the entire faculty gets a 3% raise, the highest-paid faculty members will receive the largest raises in terms of dollars.
The example of Bowling Green State University is illustrative: Before they unionized in 2010, BGSU faculty salaries were very low (12th out of 13 Ohio publics, not counting OSU). Thanks to across-the-board raises, they are now above the median. BGSU faculty also receive merit raises in addition to across-the-board raises. If Miami unionizes, you and your colleagues can expect to do better in terms of pay!
Can the union force us to go on strike?
No. A strike can only be authorized by a vote of the members, so you and your colleagues will only go on strike if you decide collectively to do so. Regardless, it is illegal for a union to force an individual to strike. Note that strikes happen rarely and are a tactic of last resort. When you and your colleagues stand together as a united faculty, differences are likely to be resolved well before you resort to a work stoppage
I’m seeking promotion/tenure. Should I be nervous about supporting unionization?
The most important thing to know is that your “yes” vote on unionization is anonymous. You can feel secure in supporting the union privately, with no chance of it affecting your promotion or tenure case. Also, unionization is relatively common at universities and, because of the public status of Miami, the university would face backlash if they were to directly fire anyone. It is important to note that retaliation against faculty for union participation is illegal. The AAUP would not hesitate to pursue legal action if such a case emerged
WHY CAN'T WE JUST HAVE AN
While Miami’s advocacy chapter has had some success advocating for faculty, it cannot bring the university to the table to negotiate a binding agreement. Having a union means bargaining a legally enforceable contract that covers aspects of your employment over which you currently have little or no say.