Sunday, February 24, 2013

AFMSU is an organization that is undemocratic, unrepresentative, and non-transparent

AFMSU decisions are made by an executive committee and its bargaining team.  The members of these two groups are selected by AFMSU in uncontested union elections, rather than voted on by the entire faculty; the qualifications of these officers as representatives of the entire faculty are questionable. In the AFMSU organizational structure, many departments are inadequately represented or have no representation. With all power in the hands of the executive committee, union members and department representatives have little voice in union direction and control, except for one vote every two years to ratify a new CBA. Non-union members pay representation fees, but have no voice.  The best leaders among our faculty will not be drawn to AFMSU politics. AFMSU is undemocratic and poorly managed by construction.

For over two years, AFMSU claimed to have strong support by TT faculty but would not divulge the number of TT faculty who were union members, even to union members. The secret CBA negotiations lacked transparency; again, even union members were not told the details. Prior to AFMSU, compensation, benefit, and work environment issues were discussed in open meetings. Before the first CBA was ratified, some faculty were misled by the union to believe the CBA had to be ratified as a condition for receiving the Administration’s planned 1% and 2% raises.

In order to be initially certified, the union manipulated the bargaining unit to their advantage by excluding groups that were generally opposed to faculty unionization, namely, the Extension and Montana Agricultural Experiment Station faculty. Some of these excluded faculty members have regular teaching commitments, yet their salaries and workplace environments are, by default, governed by the CBA with no opportunity for representation.  Thus, the CBA governs a divided faculty of union members, non-union members, and unrepresented members. 

As the Montana Board of Personnel Appeals (BOPA) prepared the list of eligible voters for the decertification election, MEA-MFT (on behalf of AFMSU) attempted to have faculty with University Sponsored Research Appointments excluded from the eligible voter list even though they have been paying representation fees. The petitioners consider this another example of undemocratic union practices and successfully blocked MEA-MFT’s attempt to exclude USRA faculty.