Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Letter from Valérie Copié

Dear Colleagues,

I would like to share with you my reasons why I cannot endorse AFMSU and why I support a decertification vote on AFMSU representing tenure track (TT) faculty.

First and foremost, a union such as AFMSU does not recognize or appreciate the uniqueness of individual faculty: Faculty in different disciplines have very distinct professional needs and different cultures; yet in a union, everyone is put in one whole “indiscriminate package.” To me, this stifles faculty initiative and self-driven motivation for faculty’s creative work in research and academic scholarship.

Another big concern is that AFSMU is trying to replace the voice that the faculty have through Faculty Senate – i.e issues of tenure and promotion are and should be the responsibility of knowledgeable faculty members, not a union, not the administration - The union has no idea what tenure entails and what should the expectations be across disciplines necessary to meet tenure and promotion– it’s important that the most knowledgeable parties (i.e. faculty and departments) be in charge – I firmly believe that Faculty senate should be our voice, and this voice should not be superseded by a union which cares very little about the intellectual and academic strength of a university such as MSU.

It is obvious that since AFMSU has been created, an enormous amount of unnecessary bureaucracyhas been added for all – more paper work to be completed by faculty to justify “their work load.”  It’s counterproductive and distract faculty from what we really want to do which is research, teaching, and outreach. The bureaucracy created by the union has paralyzed every decision at the department head, dean, and Provost’s levels – the union creates an adversarial mentality which is not aimed at solving problems – faculty can work as a team and colleagues with administrators – the union does not understand this mentality of teamship and “win win” – a spirit that attracted many of us here at MSU as faculty.

The union has misled us in claiming that it was responsible for faculty raises – I know that’s not true and some of us were “blackmailed” into thinking that only those who would vote for a union would have raises – the raises were approved by MSU President and the Board of Regents in negotiations with the legislature prior to any CBA agreement. AFMSU does not represent our best interest – but tries to justify its existence and the burdensome bureaucracy that it has created for all.

Lastly if the union stays, many who do not want to be members will still be required to pay a substantial “representation fee. ”  However, this fee does NOT entitle non-members to vote on any new CBA contract or elect union representative, i.e. non-members are forced to pay but have no voice in the process. This is undemocratic and coercive. If people value the union, I can respect that – but what I cannot respect is that for others like me there is no other option but to be part of AFMSU with no voice as a non-member. This makes no sense and at the very least if there has to be a union, then faculty should have the choice to decide whether or not they want to be represented by such a body.Under the present reality, the only choice is to vote for or against the union for tenure track faculty.

I encourage everyone to participate in the vote of whether or not to decertify AFMSU for tenure track faculty, no matter which side of the issue you feel is most in agreement with your own values  - and please remember this has nothing to do with the issue of a union for non tenure track  (NTT) faculty. It is important that all voices be heard and respected no matter the outcome.

Dr. Valérie Copié