Miami Faculty, Get Ready to Vote!
We are thrilled to share that tenure-line and TCPL faculty will soon be able to vote to form a faculty collective bargaining unit at Miami University! This is a historic moment made possible by Miami faculty's hard organizing work over the last three years. Voting will occur via mail ballot between April 18 and May 2.
Please read on for important instructions for how to VOTE YES for your union!
In the coming weeks, FAM organizers in your department will share information about the voting process.
While this particular election won't include our valuable librarian and VAP colleagues, rest assured that we are helping them organize into their own bargaining units and we are all still working together as one FAM—just with a more complicated structure. We are not leaving anyone behind.
Winning this election by a WIDE MARGIN is very crucial to ensure that we have strong leverage and get a great first contract! Strong leverage can mean greater guaranteed annual salary increases, a stronger voice in decision-making, and more.
Show solidarity and your plan to VOTE YES for FAM! Wear red every Monday from now through the election period and send pictures for us to share on social media!
Great news: just one week after the SERB decision announcing that the first FAM collective bargaining unit would be tenured, tenure-track and TCPL faculty, librarians have filed today to form their own bargaining unit.
CONGRATULATIONS to our amazing librarians. Here's the press release we've just shared:
Miami University Librarians File for Recognition as Collective Bargaining Unit
Today, librarians at Miami University filed a petition for certification to form a collective bargaining unit as part of the Faculty Alliance of Miami (FAM), which is jointly affiliated with the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).
The newly proposed unit comes on the heels of the news that FAM’s first prospective bargaining unit — tenured and tenure-track professors as well as teaching professors, clinical faculty and lecturers (TCPL) — will vote this spring on forming a collective bargaining unit.
FAM organizers originally sought to include all full-time faculty at Miami—including librarians—in their unit. However, the State Employment Relations Board (SERB) decision excluded the librarians from the unit, in part as they were labeled by the university as staff and not as faculty as they are at most Ohio public universities. However, the ruling did not preclude them from filing to form their own unit — and today, they did.
“We stand in solidarity with fellow faculty — we are ready to win our own bargaining unit as part of the FAM family,” said Ken Irwin, Web Services Librarian. Theresa Kulbaga, a FAM lead organizer and tenured professor on the Hamilton campus, approves: “No one can keep our librarians down! We’re with them all the way.”
Julie Alexander, teaching professor in the Farmer School of Business, says she’s thrilled she will soon be able to vote “yes” for her faculty union. Meantime, she’s excited to support her librarian and visiting faculty colleagues as they organize. “We all work together to educate our students, and we will continue to work together as a union, just with separate contracts,” she said.
Science librarian Ginny Boehme is confident that Miami librarians have the support they need to win their election when the time comes: “When we filed our original petition to bring our voices together with FAM, we meant it, and we have the full, enthusiastic support of our colleagues.”
On March 9, the State Employment Review Board (SERB) ruled that FAM's first bargaining unit will include tenured and tenure-track faculty and TCPL. The judge decided to exclude librarians, hybrid faculty-staff and visiting faculty. T/TT and TCPL will be eligible to vote in the upcoming election.
It’s unfair and disappointing that many non-tenure-track colleagues who contribute so much to the academic mission of the university are being excluded. Rather than trying to divide us, the administration could have chosen to listen to faculty’s desire to unionize together.
But there is more than one way to be a united faculty with a strong voice in our workplace. We’re just getting started.
Let’s recognize that this is a historic achievement. After three years of organizing together to build a union, we have cleared a great hurdle. There will soon be a vote on forming a faculty collective bargaining unit at Miami.
Winning this first unit will give FAM momentum and power to organize additional units (including librarians). Having TCPLs in the unit together with tenure-line faculty is a win. It’s also excellent news that SERB ruled visiting faculty to be public employees, not "casual" or “seasonal” employees as the administration claimed.
It’s time to move forward on two fronts:
Your personal involvement—whether it’s talking to colleagues, helping with union research or communications, or wearing a button—is key to building a strong and democratic union. Department liaisons will be in touch with more information about the upcoming election. In the meantime, stay involved: sign pledge and membership cards, share a testimonial on why you are voting yes, and keep displaying FAM swag.
Faculty Alliance of Miami
@famiamioh on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
"Everyone in this room shares the goal of providing an excellent learning environment for our students"
Professor Deborah Lyons is a member of the Department of French, Italian and Classical Studies and an affiliate in the Women's and Gender Studies Program at Miami University. She delivered this speech at the Board of Trustees public meeting on March 3, 2023.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today. I am Deborah Lyons, from the Department of French, Italian, and Classical Studies. I have been at Miami for 19 years and I want to echo what Professor Hall has just said: in all my years of teaching here and at a number of other institutions, I have never seen faculty morale as low as it is now at Miami.
I know that many of you come from a business background. In a business context, when workers begin to organize a union, the usual reaction is to put up barriers, to try to stop the union. It was disappointing to see the university follow this playbook, hiring a high-priced union-busting law firm, and spending a lot of money that could have been used for education.
We are not making widgets. We are creating education, a public good. I know that everyone in this room shares the goal of providing an excellent learning environment for our students. If we were making widgets, management would want the workers to make as many widgets as possible as fast as possible. The workers would want to be paid as much as possible to make those widgets. This is not the case here. We all want the same thing. There is no reason for this to be an adversarial relationship. And business is not the best model for higher education.
The money spent on trying to stop the union is being wasted. It is a futile effort. We will win! Even if we are not allowed to go forward with our preferred unit composition, we will organize the excluded faculty, hold another election, and establish another bargaining unit. The union cannot be stopped.
Thank you for your time.
Professor Daniel Hall is a member of the Department of Justice and Community Studies and an Affiliate Professor in the Departments of Political Science and Global and Intercultural Studies at Miami University. He delivered this speech at the Board of Trustees public meeting on March 3, 2023.
Good morning. I am Daniel Hall, professor of justice and community studies and political science. This is my twentieth year at Miami.
I am here to ask the Board to consider permitting the faculty’s vote for unionization to proceed, and to do so with the proposed membership.
I speak from my experience not only at Miami, but from the two universities where I was tenured
before, the University of Toledo and the University of Central Florida. At UCF, I was a member of the
faculty unit, and as an administrator at UT, I was outside of the unit. As a faculty member and
administrator, I found unionization beneficial. The clear standards, expectations, and processes that
resulted from collective bargaining reduced the ambiguity, anxiety, and apparent inequity that I too
often witness at Miami.
As a professor, attorney, and civil libertarian, my greatest reason for supporting unionization is to see
improvements in due process, in all of its forms. Presently, faculty morale is the lowest I have ever
witnessed, at any university, in my 33 years in higher education. A lack of transparency, unfair processes, and draconian rules and disciplinary procedures are contributors to this problem. These
concerns were far less present at my former institutions, where their collective bargaining agreements detailed the process, rights, and – the responsibilities - of faculty.
As to the recommended membership of the unit, I humbly disagree with the suggestion that TCPLs and TT faculty are too dissimilar to be represented by the same union. I am in a small department. There are six of us, full-time; two TCPLs and four tenured. I invite any of you to join us in a faculty meeting, or in one of the many informal meetings we have weekly. You would quickly see that our discussions of advising, teaching, committee work, and how to engage with our community partners create a single, cohesive community of interest. Yes, four of us are also engaged in research. But that doesn’t define us as a department; nor does it separate us. Day-to-day, we operate as a team. The decision to separate us into different bargaining units would drive a wedge between us that could reduce our collegiality and quite possibly, our productivity.
The great majority of faculty are motivated by their love of teaching, mentoring, and research.
Unionization will not impact that reality.
The faculty have spoken. We want to unionize and we want tenure-track faculty, TCPLs, and librarians to be in a single unit. The University’s unwillingness to respect to the will of its faculty is only adding fuel to the fire of discontent. Please act now to recognize the proposed unit.
"Collective bargaining rights are a bulwark against threats to tenure and academic freedom"
Professor Cathy Wagner is a member of the English Department at Miami University. She delivered this speech at the Board of Trustees public meeting on March 3, 2023.
Chair Schell, members of the Board, my name is Cathy Wagner and I’ve been a professor of English at Miami for 17 years. I'm serving my third term as a university senator and my second as president of Miami’s AAUP Advocacy Chapter, now organized as a union, the Faculty Alliance of Miami.
I want to congratulate my colleagues receiving tenure and promotion on their hard work. When I was pre-tenure, a single mom writing at the dining room table after putting my son to bed, I thought of tenure as a shiny prize I’d win for being a productive writer and scholar.
Once I achieved tenure, I recognized its real value. Tenure is not a gold star. Tenure exists to protect freedom in research and teaching. Freedom that is essential to the public good higher education provides: the creation and sharing of knowledge.
Now, tenure and academic freedom are under threat across the country. Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Iowa. Ohio. In an uncertain legislative context, collective bargaining rights are a bulwark against threats to tenure and academic freedom.
Miami faculty could have had that protection already. But for months now, Miami administration has been blocking our chance to vote together on forming a collective bargaining unit.
The FAM supporters here today — faculty and librarians — are from all colleges, categories, and divisions. They stand united here with their students, facing you, the ultimate decision-makers in their workplace. That’s brave! That’s worthy of respect.
Today, you are showing respect for my tenacious and brilliant colleagues by awarding them tenure and promotion.
Will you also respect their determination, as a united supermajority of faculty, to vote together as one?
Professor Theresa Kulbaga is a member of the English Department and the Languages, Literatures and Writing Department at Miami University. She is also a faculty affiliate of American Studies & Women’s and Gender Studies. She delivered this speech at the Board of Trustees public meeting on March 3, 2023.
Hi, and thanks for hearing me today. My name is Theresa Kulbaga, and I am a Professor of English on the Hamilton campus.
I love teaching at Miami Regionals, where nearly a third of our students are first-generation college students, and where 90% of our graduates live in Ohio and contribute to the region. It is amazing to work with these dedicated, diverse, and brilliant students.
And it is amazing to work with my colleagues. In my 15 years as a Miami faculty member, I have worked with colleagues across campuses, ranks, titles, and disciplines to fulfill Miami’s educational mission. We all care deeply about our students and about the future of higher education. We all do substantially the same work: teaching, research, and service.
Today marks 268 days since we submitted cards signed by a supermajority of my colleagues indicating that we want Miami administration to recognize us as a union. The simple fact is that as soon as the State Employment Relations Board confirmed that we have majority support last June, the administration could and should have recognized our union. Instead, they have argued that only tenure-line faculty belong in our unit, causing delays and attempting to divide us.
As a regional faculty member, my teaching and service responsibilities are different than my Oxford colleagues. But we all work together to advance Miami’s educational mission. If tenure-line regional faculty belong in the unit—which the administration does not dispute—then my full-time non-tenure-line colleagues also belong in the unit.
We are all one faculty. We want to be in a single bargaining unit with all of our colleagues. And we want to vote now. Do the right thing. Respect and value your faculty. Let us vote.
On Friday, March 3, 2023 in Marcum Center, a brilliant group of our colleagues were awarded tenure — the strongest protection for academic freedom there is, but one that’s under threat all over the country. In this uncertain legislative environment, a union contract can defend against threats to academic freedom.
That’s why a large group of faculty (including librarians) and students went to Marcum Friday to stand in solidarity with newly tenured and promoted faculty. Together, we asked the Board to end the administration’s union-busting and let us vote. (Read speeches to the Board of Trustees by Theresa Kulbaga, Daniel Hall, and Cathy Wagner.)
it’s been 268 days and counting since FAM submitted cards signed by a supermajority of faculty across categories.
Though the state of Ohio has confirmed that there is majority support for FAM, Miami’s administration has taken every opportunity to delay a union vote, and it’s been 268 days and counting since FAM submitted union authorization cards signed by a supermajority of faculty across categories.
If the Board of Trustees didn’t know it before, they know it now: Miami faculty are one faculty. It’s our demonstrated preference to vote together and unionize together. At any time, the Board can tell Miami’s administration to stop throwing money away on a useless divide-and-delay campaign. The Board showed respect for faculty today by promoting and tenuring them. Now, let them respect Miami faculty’s demonstrated wish to vote together on forming a collective bargaining unit.
Read speeches to the Board of Trustees by Theresa Kulbaga, Daniel Hall, and Cathy Wagner.
Congratulations to all our colleagues and students who came together to speak truth to power on Friday. That’s how, together, we’ll win a collective bargaining unit and negotiate a great union contract. We’re just getting started!
And congratulations to our colleagues who were granted tenure and promotion Friday. You deserve strong shared governance and fair compensation. With your colleagues across job titles, campuses and divisions, you deserve a say in your working conditions so that you can educate your students well and pursue your research freely.
FAM Organizing Committee
This op ed appeared in the Miami Student on February 17, 2023. Thanks to the editors.
Can a single collective bargaining unit represent different faculty ranks and categories? Do tenure-line faculty, visiting faculty, Teaching, Clinical Professors and Lecturers (TCPL) and librarians want to be in a single bargaining unit? Are we all one faculty?
Yes, yes and yes!
In sworn testimony at a state hearing in December, 13 witnesses from the Faculty Alliance of Miami (FAM) (representing TCPL, librarian, tenured, pre-tenure and visiting faculty) detailed the facts of their employment, making a clear case that all faculty share in the work — teaching, research and service — of Miami’s educational mission. That is, we constitute a legal “community of interest” appropriate for a bargaining unit. A single bargaining unit that includes all faculty — like most collective bargaining units at Ohio universities — is what Miami faculty want, need and deserve.
By contrast, Miami’s four witnesses — all executive administrators — claimed that faculty hired at different ranks do such different work that we cannot constitute a community of interest. Administrators also offered their opinions (without evidence) that faculty in different categories would not have each other’s backs at the bargaining table. They argued that precarious faculty would be better represented by administrators than by uniting with their colleagues.
In fact, FAM is supported by a supermajority of faculty precisely because of the failure of Miami administrators to adequately represent our interests. And, as FAM witnesses argued, while all faculty benefit from unionization, it’s precarious faculty who are most in need of the protection of a union and negotiated contract. Administrative witnesses made this crystal clear, claiming that non-tenure-line faculty do not have academic freedom (though Miami’s Policy Library says they do) and highlighting the lack of protections for TCPL faculty should they be nonrenewed or fired.
Administrative witnesses also alleged that a single bargaining unit would be “inefficient.” But multiple negotiations would surely be a nightmare of inefficiency. A single collective bargaining agreement can accommodate the needs of different categories of faculty — and already does so at many universities in Ohio.
Miami’s administration, in an effort to delay a union vote, is attempting to divide faculty. But it is actually the administration that hires people into different levels of precarity. And it is the administration that has made choices harmful to our educational mission. As we saw in 2020, when the administration let go of hundreds of visiting faculty, over 800 of us signed a petition asking them to discuss other options. We had those colleagues’ backs. We had their backs then, and we will have their backs at the bargaining table.
Under Ohio code, the first factor in determining a community of interest that justifies a bargaining unit is “the desires of the employees.” FAM submitted cards to the state in June 2022 demonstrating that a majority of employees want the chance to form a bargaining unit. Miami has had the opportunity to Let Us Vote. Instead, they have delayed, dragged their feet and attempted to divide us.
Faculty do not want to be divided against our own interests. That’s why we continue to build a union by listening to one another — because solidarity is the source of our power.
Julie Alexander, First-Year Integrated Core, FSB
Phill Alexander, Emerging Technology in Business and Design, CCA
Ann Elizabeth Armstrong, Department of Theatre, CCA
Ginny Boehme, University Libraries
Michelle D. Boone, Department of Biology, CAS
Mary Jean Corbett, Department of English, CAS
Linh Dich, Departments of English and Languages, Literatures, and Writing, CLAAS
Todd Dupont, Department of Geology and Environmental Earth Science, CAS
Todd Edwards, Department of Teaching, Curriculum, and Educational Inquiry, EHS
Daniel Gladish, Departments of Biology and Biological Sciences, CLAAS
Ryan Gunderson, Department of Sociology and Gerontology, CAS
Mack Hagood, Department of Media, Journalism & Film, CAS
Kazue Harada, Department of German, Russian, Asian and Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures, CAS
Theresa Kulbaga, Departments of English and Languages, Literatures, and Writing, CLAAS
Rachel Makarowski, University Libraries
Shashi Lalvani, Department of Chemical, Paper and Biomedical Engineering, CEC
Paul Larson, Department of Mathematics, CAS
Eric Luczaj, Department of Computer and Information Technology, CLAAS
Deborah Lyons, Department of French, Italian, & Classical Studies, CAS
Richard Moore, Department of Biology, CAS
Zafer Ozdemir, Department of Information Systems & Analytics, FSB
Jason Palmeri, Department of English, CAS
Daniel Prior, Department of History, CAS
Kevin Reuning, Department of Political Science, CAS
Ann Rypstra, Department of Biology, CAS
John Schaefer, Departments of Anthropology and Social and Behavioral Sciences, CLAAS
Paul Schaeffer, Department of Biology, CAS
Matthew Smith, Department of Humanities and Creative Arts, CLAAS
Nancy Solomon, Department of Biology, CAS
Hank Stevens, Department of Biology, CAS
Heeyoung Tai, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, CAS
Mike Vanni, Department of Biology, CAS
Cathy Wagner, Department of English, CAS
Anne Whitesell, Department of Political Science, CAS
Amy Yousefi, Chemical, Paper and Biomedical Engineering, CEC