Wednesday, April 24, 2013


AFMSU/MEA-MFT was decertified as the exclusive representative of the tenured and tenure-track faculty on April 24, 2013.

The vote tally was 190 in favor of decertification and 185 opposed. 

Effective April 29, 2013, AFMSU/MEA-MFT will no longer collect representation fees or dues from TT faculty. 

Our sincere thanks to everyone who has supported the decertification effort.

We are grateful to the many who helped us with our legal bills. 

The Petitioners

Bennett Link, Professor, Physics
Randy Babbitt, Professor, Physics
Gary Brester, Professor, Agricultural Economics and Economics
F. William Brown, Professor, College of Business

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


The ballot count is as follows:

190 in favor of decertification of AFMSU/MEA-MFT's representation of TT faculty

185 against decertification

6 challenged ballots  (4 challenged by union, 2 challenged by petitioners)


If one (or more) challenged ballot is ruled valid and is in favor of decertification, AFMSU/MEA-MFT will be decertified. Election rules require that the ballots will be reviewed in a hearing in the near future, at which we will have to argue the case for or against each challenged ballot.

We are grateful to the many who have helped us with our legal bills. 

Our sincere thanks to everyone who has supported the decertification effort. 

The Petitioners

Bennett Link, Professor, Physics
Randy Babbitt, Professor, Physics
Gary Brester, Professor, Agricultural Economics and Economics
F. William Brown, Professor, College of Business

Saturday, April 6, 2013


Reminder: vote to decertify AFMSU/MEA-MFT

Please contribute to decertification legal fees

Why Decertify AFMSU?

Your vote to decertify is essential

Ballot instructions

Faculty who publicly support decertification

Article in Inside Higher Ed (4/1) about the decertification effort

Article in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle (3/27) about the decertification effort

Letter from Randy Babbitt, Bennett Link, and David Dickensheets

Letter from Rufus Cone

Letter from David Dickensheets

Letter from Bern Kohler

Letter from Edward Schmidt

Letter from Patrik Callis

Letter from Wes Lynch

Letter from Jerry Johnson

Letter from Valérie Copié

Response to AFMSU "myths"

Where your dues and fees go

Letter from Randy Babbitt, Bennett Link, and David Dickensheets

Dear Colleagues,

AFMSU/MEA-MFT’s failure to achieve any substantial improvements in
their first round of negotiations is well documented at  The union’s rebuttal to these failures is
that they need more time to prove themselves.  Since it will not be
possible to decertify AFMSU/MEA-MFT in the future, as explained at, the future of AFMSU governance must be
decided by the faculty now.

The evidence so far suggests that AFMSU will not improve.  The union
claims to be “a transparent, member driven organization,” [1]  where
“all members have a voice and non-members are encouraged to
participate.”[1]  The only open input occurs at their bargaining
forums and “input of all faculty is crucial to the improvement of our
contract.”[2]  Thus, the  success of collective bargaining depends on
faculty participation in these forums.   The union claims in their
e-mails to faculty that these forums are “very successful, gathering
critical input from Members and Non-members alike.“[2]  The truth is
these forums have abysmal attendance, demonstrating that faculty, both
union members and non-members, have not embraced this process.

The AFMSU Contract forums held on December 13th had very poor
attendance.  At the first forum of the day, besides the AFMSU
officers, bargaining team members, and the AFT and MFT organizers,
three decertification supporters (including Bennett Link and Randy
Babbitt) out-numbered other TT faculty.  The following forum that day
was cancelled due to lack of attendance.

Other AFMSU forums have had even worse attendance.

Randy Babbitt (decertification supporter and non-member) attended the
AFMSU Forum to discuss intellectual property policy on March 5th.  The
entire attendance was the TT AFMSU president, a member of the AFMSU
bargaining team, four AFT and MEA-MFT organizers, and only two faculty
members – one NTT faculty and one TT faculty (Randy Babbitt).  How the
input of just one or two faculty will filter through the union
representatives and translate into any positive action is unclear and
will not be known until after the secret negotiations that produce the
CBA are finished.  The intellectual property rights (including on-line
courses, copyrights, and patents) of the MSU TT faculty should not be
decided this way.  This process is very different from the past when
the Technology Transfer Office staff and a dozen concerned faculty
from diverse areas would sit down and discuss intellectual policy
issues, resulting in collaboratively developed proposed policy
changes, that would be put out for extensive comment from the whole TT
faculty, before being debated and voted on by the faculty senate.

The March 26th AFMSU forum on MSU Workload Policy, one of the union’s
priorities and an important issue, should have attracted a large
number of faculty.  This meeting only had two TT faculty members
present for the full meeting – a third faculty eventually joined the
discussion.  One of the TT faculty was David Dickensheets, a TT union
member and decertification supporter.  Two AFMSU officers and one
MEA-MFT/NEA representative rounded out the meeting.

It is clear that union forums to obtain input from faculty are not
working. The “forum” model lacks participation and provides no
mechanism for feedback to or approval from the Faculty prior to
negotiations. As a result, the contents of the next collective
bargaining agreement (assuming the union is not decertified), will be
determined by a small group of union officers with their own
bargaining priorities, as was the case for our current CBA.

We prefer a more inclusive, open, deliberate, and iterative approach
to determining faculty priorities and preferences. We do not wish to
cede our collective Faculty voice to the AFMSU bargaining team, who
cannot speak faithfully on our behalf.

We urge you to vote for decertification.


Randy Babbitt

Bennett Link

David Dickensheets

[1] Myth 8,

[2] AFMSU Email to MSU faculty on Mon 3/25/2013

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Reminder: vote to decertify AFMSU/MEA-AFT

Dear Colleagues,

This is a reminder to PLEASE VOTE in the current election to decertify

If you have received this e-mail, you are an eligible voter and should
have received a ballot. If you have not received a ballot, e-mail
Windy Knutson, the election judge, at, and she will
send you one. You may also confirm that your ballot was received by
e-mailing Windy Knutson.

AFMSU/MEA-MFT has been manipulating this election in their favor from
the beginning. The union is diligently furnishing the election judge
with address corrections for UNION MEMBERS ONLY. AFMSU/MEA-MFT is NOT
providing this information for representation-fee paying non-members,
though AFMSU/MEA-MFT is required by law to represent non-members in
the TT unit.

AFMSU/MEA-MFT is also challenging the ballots of non-union members,
who they are required to represent, despite these individuals being
eligible voters according to law. AFMSU/MEA-MFT has yet to dispute a
ballot from a union member. We are working with legal counsel to make
sure that eligible voters are not disenfranchised.


The Petitioners

Bennett Link, Physics
Randy Babbitt, Physics
Gary Brester, Agricultural Economics and Economics
F. William Brown, College of Business

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Letter from Rufus Cone

Dear Colleagues,  

I urge you to vote to decertify AFMSU as representative of the tenure-track and tenured faculty for reasons briefly outlined below and in earlier notes by colleagues and The Petitioners.

Students at a university like MSU are offered the unusual experience of learning from faculty who are creating knowledge and critically evaluating ideas and new ways of expression;  this highlights a significant difference between a university education and high school.  One of our goals is to convey to students, through the direct experience of research and creativity, some sense of the satisfaction, the excitement, the joy, of intellectual activity and the process of discovery and understanding. 

With that perspective, from my early days as a young assistant professor at MSU, I have regarded my obligation to be providing new opportunities for students in both the classroom and research/creativity.  My current laboratory grew from a $5000 startup package;  it has produced a dozen Ph.D.’s and many undergraduates who have helped make the optics industry strong in Bozeman.  

This required an entrepreneurial attitude throughout – garnering resources, finding used equipment that could be re-used or re-purposed in research and in classroom demonstrations, designing new courses, connecting with local companies, connecting with outside researchers, bootstrapping up, and gaining external funding.  And it benefitted from support and encouragement for these initiatives from the department and the MSU administration.  Those achievements required hard work for which recognition has been given.  

This is not a singular story.  MSU has been made into the high-quality University we know in 2013 by the hard work of many many entrepreneurial faculty members.  Without the individual and independent efforts of those faculty members, each taking a different path – their own path, we would not be where we are today.  The stature of the Faculty and the stature of the University have improved dramatically, and independent and motivated faculty are the reason for that.  

Most of those faculty assumed that their individual contributions would be recognized and rewarded.  As other colleagues who have written urging decertification of AFMSU have clearly indicated, the AFMSU/MEA/AFT vision – being collective rather than individual oriented – is quite different from what I have described.  It is not compatible with that vision of a University.

If I were a young ambitious Ph. D. seeking a faculty job at MSU, as soon as I learned that MSU faculty were subject to the inappropriate management of an MEA/AFT outlook, I would turn down any offer to come here and look elsewhere.  I say that from the heart after obviously having felt strongly about MSU as a desirable institution for the previous years of my career.

In my time at MSU, attempts at unionization were soundly voted down twice by independent-minded faculty.  If the high quality we offer students at MSU is important to you, I implore you to vote to decertify AFMSU, not for my sake but for the students and the future of the great University that we have created together - something that is bigger than any of us.


Rufus Cone

Friday, March 29, 2013

Ballot instructions

Dear Colleagues,

Most Tenure-track faculty in the collective bargaining unit received their ballots today and a number are responding with questions. Please note the following:

1) If you have been receiving e-mails from us, YOU ARE AN ELIGIBLE VOTER and should receive your ballot today or tomorrow.  If you do not, contact Windy Knutsen,  You can also contact us for help.

2) The mail with your ballot that you will receive will have a return address of "Montana Department of Labor and Industry".

3) Follow the directions very carefully to ensure your ballot is not declared invalid. Be sure to SIGN the outside of the return envelope in the place indicated. Your signature is essential.

4)  If in doubt about the instructions, please email us at

Please vote!