Effort to unionize faculty begins at U of M's Twin Cities campus

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Faculty members at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities are being contacted by one of the nation's largest labor organizations in an effort to get them to join the union.

The Minnesota Daily reports that the university's faculty, including researchers and tenured professors, received e-mails from the Service Employees International Union late last week. It urges them to allow the union to represent them in negotiating pay, benefits and working conditions. SEIU Local 284 has a website with details.

The Pioneer Press adds that the e-mail asked faculty members to sign cards authorizing the SEIU to represent them.

The group needs the support of 30 percent of eligible faculty in order to have a vote on forming a union.

In response to the union's e-mails, MPR News received a statement from the university’s human resources department that read, "The State of Minnesota’s Public Employee Labor Relations Act defines which employee groups are eligible for labor union representation. Groups would need to work with the Minnesota State Bureau of Mediation Services to ensure they comply with state law regarding organizing."

The effort is part of a national push to unionize college and university professors. Faculty on the University of Minnesota campuses in Duluth and Crookston are unionized.

The SEIU is partnered with the group Adjunct Action, which staged organizing drives at three private universities in St. Paul. Adjunct professors at Hamline University voted to form a union; their counterparts at the University of St. Thomas rejected one. Leaders of a union effort at Macalester College canceled their vote shortly before ballots were to be mailed out.

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