Demonstrating Our Solidarity

Header: Agusburg Staff. Augsburg Values. Augsburg Contract.

Dear Colleagues,
This afternoon, nearly half of the Augsburg Staff Union members attended the Focused Conversation on Augsburg’s plan to grow sustainably. We proudly displayed our Augsburg Staff Union Zoom backgrounds and Zoom profile pictures. It was an amazing demonstration of our solidarity and our resolve to win a fair contract.
Why did we do this? We are concerned with some of the administration’s actions at the bargaining table. As we’ve mentioned in previous communications, the administration’s insistence that we wait to discuss economic proposals (namely, wages and healthcare) until some unknown later date is quite concerning to us. In a fair negotiation, one side doesn’t get to dictate the terms to their liking. This is especially concerning because of how much of a priority wages and healthcare are to the staff. Our demonstration today was a reminder that our contract proposals reflect the needs of staff. They are why we organized a union.
We continue to invite the administration to offer their thoughts on how to improve the working lives of all staff. But they’ve told us they don’t view these negotiations as something that stands to benefit Augsburg as an institution, which is why they’ve not only refused to pay bargaining team members for their time spent negotiating but are insisting they use their personal vacation time. Why? After all, Dawn Miller, Katie Bishop, and their attorney Meggen Lindsay are all being paid for their time spent bargaining. 
It’s deeply unfortunate that after months of staff collectively organizing ourselves around these core issues that we feel need to be addressed, the administration still won’t connect the dots between staff having a seat at the table and a better Augsburg. Sadly, this practice of our hard work going unseen and unpaid is a familiar feeling to many of us. How many extra hours do you put into your work here that go uncompensated? We are passionate about Augsburg’s mission and we proudly serve our institution. We expect Augsburg to return the favor, so we can continue to commit ourselves without the fear that one day our retirement contributions may be taken away or that we have a trip to the hospital that puts us in crushing debt. Auggies take care of one another.
Something that caught our attention during the focused conversation was that administration wants to increase staff size. We appreciate that the administration recognizes the problem of understaffing and how it limits our ability to serve the needs of students. Adequate staffing is one way to deal with the extremely high turnover rate at Augsburg. The other necessary component of that is adequate compensation and benefits.
We joined the Focused Conversation en masse today to remind the administration that we’re very serious about our proposals, and we’re committed to Augsburg.
We’re looking forward to our next round of bargaining, scheduled for Thursday, April 1st. 
Supporters of the Augsburg Staff Union and our contract proposals have been using union Zoom backgrounds/profile pictures in their day-to-day meetings. Show your support:
We’ve also changed our email signatures to reflect our support for the union. Some of the language we’ve been using is:

  • I am a proud supporter of the Augsburg Staff Union
  • I support an Augsburg Contract with Augsburg Values

See our notes here from our Town Hall on Tuesday, March 23rd. 

Town Hall Tuesday, March 23rd

Header: Agusburg Staff. Augsburg Values. Augsburg Contract.

Dear Colleagues,
You are invited to our next Town Hall! It will be Tuesday, March 23rd at 12 pm! Here is the link to RSVP:
This Town Hall will be an opportunity to update staff on bargaining and to discuss what the proposals we’ve written mean to us.
To request accommodations for the town hall, please email us at
We’ve been using our Zoom backgrounds and email signatures to demonstrate solidarity! This is how we’re showing support for not only the bargaining proposals but also for each other. Winning an Augsburg Contract with Augsburg Values is going to take all of us!
Here’s where you can download a Zoom background or Zoom profile image (with instructions):
We’ve been using the following in our email signatures:

  • I am a proud supporter of the Augsburg Staff Union
  • I support an Augsburg Contract with Augsburg Values

Check out our Zoom backgrounds in action!

Please feel free to join our weekly Contract Action Team meeting also on Tuesday, March 23rd at 6:30 pm! Here is the link to RSVP:
Please reach out to us at if you need any assistance in attending our CAT meetings.

Recap of our first bargaining session

Dear Colleagues,
A little bit ago, at 2:00 pm, our colleagues on the Bargaining Team concluded the first session of negotiations with representatives from the administration, Dawn Miller and Katie Bishop, and the University’s representing attorney, Meggen Lindsay. The union was represented by Annie Chen, Keanon Cooper, Lauren White, Marcus Jenkins, Maren Stoddard Mack, Mike Bloomberg, Katie Asfeld, and Uriah Ward, as well as our OPEIU Local 12 reps Jim Niland and Sam Tiratto.
We came prepared with a near-complete contract which included proposals on wages, healthcare, scheduling, and many other topics that we’ve been discussing amongst ourselves for so long. We explained that our union members had high response rates to our Bargaining Issues Survey, which was the primary driver behind our proposed contract. 
Here is a closer look at some of what we proposed:

  • Bargaining unit members will continue to be able to determine their work schedule with their supervisor
  • Effective January 7, 2021 all bargaining unit members will receive either a 7% increase in their salary/hourly wage or have their salary/hourly/wage increased to $48,500/year, whichever results in the highest salary/hourly wage. If the member is working less than full-time the $48,500/year will be prorated based on what ratio of a full-time 40 hours/week they are working. For example, a member working 32 hours/week (0.8) time would have that $48,500 pro-rated to $38,800/year. The base salary of $48,500 is based on survey responses, as well asresearch outlining livable wages for a family of 4 with two incomes in Hennepin County. 
  • Augsburg pays 100% of healthcare, vision, and dental premiums on plans covering a single employee. Employees choosing healthcare plans covering partners, dependents, or families would pay a reduced percentage of the premiums than they currently do.
  • Augsburg will make an annual contribution to employee HSA accounts for High Deductible plans of $1000 per year, regardless of coverage level.
  • The formation of a Health and Wellness Committee that will determine health care plans, their designs and other issues concerning them, including selecting affordable health care plans and bringing transparency to the process. The committee would also establish a health care plan for students. The committee will have equal representation from upper admin/HR, Augsburg staff union, other non-union staff, students, faculty, adjunct faculty union, and facilities and custodial union. These representatives will be directly selected by their peers.
  • Birth/Adoption Leave: The Employer shall provide to all employees six (6) weeks of paid Birth/Adoption Leave time to use starting up to 2 weeks prior to or after the birth or adoption of a child. Time shall be used all at once anytime in the first 12 months from the date of birth or adoption decree.
  • Family Care Leave: six (6) weeks of paid family leave to care for medical/illness needs of themselves, and/or of their family and household members or anyone they are in a caregiver relationship to.
  • A sick leave pool will be created that employees may contribute their accrued and unused sick leave to that will be available to other employees who have exhausted their paid sick leave. The policies for this pool will be determined by the union.

Here are links to the full text of the union and employer proposals:

We received initial proposals from the administration as well, regarding some non-economic issues, such as the scope of our union membership, no-strike agreements, equal opportunity and nondiscrimination language. The union took a caucus break to discuss the administration’s proposed language. 
We have reached a tentative agreement on two fairly standard articles regarding equal opportunity and nondiscrimination, and that contract agreements that are overridden by state or federal law will be replaced by such laws. While these articles are somewhat mundane, coming to some initial agreement in the first negotiation meeting is a good indication that we will continue to work well in upcoming negotiations.
The administration did not make any counter-proposals to our economic issues, which we were prepared for, as we were told they prefer to start with non-economic issues. However, economic issues are a clear priority for our union based on the survey results and we will continue to keep the pressure on to negotiate these issues in a timely manner.
We appreciate the good faith effort the administration has made to schedule bargaining sessions and to hear our proposals. Our next bargaining sessions are scheduled for Thursday, April 1, and Saturday, April 17.
Unfortunately, we would also like to bring your attention to Augsburg’s refusal to pay the members of the Bargaining Team for the time spent during bargaining sessions. This is an unfair imbalance of power, as the administrative members and lawyer are negotiating on paid time, and the negotiations are a mutually beneficial endeavor for the University. 
We will continue to push for pay so the Bargaining Team can meet at reasonable hours. Until then, we are prepared to meet on nights and weekends to win this contract!
There will be a CAT (Contract Action Team) meeting tonight at 6:30 pm and all members are welcome to attend. Here is the link to join the meeting. (No need to register with that link). We will only spend a small amount of time debriefing the bargaining session. The bulk of our meeting tonight will be discussing ways to demonstrate to the administration that we’re serious about our proposals, and planning dates for future Town Hall events, etc.. 
Last but not least, thank you to all of you, our fellow staff union members, who are showing their solidarity by using a union Zoom background, email signature (i.e., I am a proud member of the Augsburg Staff Union), wearing your union facemasks, and wearing maroon on negotiation days. We’re working together for our future!
Please reach out to us at if you need any assistance in attending our CAT meetings.

Bargaining Begins today

Header: Agusburg Staff. Augsburg Values. Augsburg Contract.

Dear Colleagues,
The first day of bargaining is today! The Bargaining Team is excited to submit our first proposal! Stay tuned for an email later in the day for an update on what happened and what we proposed.
Please wear maroon today in solidarity with the Bargaining Team. Let’s show administration that we’re excited to work with them in good faith to win a fair contract that lives up to Augsburg’s values.
Also, please use an Augsburg Staff Union Zoom background, available here with a guide on how to use them!
Finally, add a line to your email signature to show your support for the union! Some phrases we’ve been using:

  • I’m a proud member of the Augsburg Staff Union
  • I support an Augsburg Contract with Augsburg Values

Please reach out to us at if you need any assistance in attending our CAT meetings.

Augsburg Staff. Augsburg Values. Augsburg Contract

Header: Agusburg Staff. Augsburg Values. Augsburg Contract.

Dear Colleagues,
In the span of just two months our union has gone from an election victory to sitting down with administration. The Bargaining Team, which will meet with administration on March 9th, has written several strong proposals. We discussed a little about these proposals as well as other questions regarding the bargaining process at our last Town Hall yesterday.
We also discussed the importance of solidarity as we enter this phase of the campaign. It’s crucial that we are united and show our strength. An overwhelming majority of us voted to form our union and it has been exciting to see our support grow even higher since the election with many new leaders getting involved. We can all be proud of the unity we have built together. 
Here’s how you can stand in solidarity with your colleagues:

  • Use one of the new Augsburg Staff Union Zoom backgrounds in your meetings! They can be found on our website here in addition to a guide on how to change your Zoom background:
  • Wear red, maroon, or Augsburg-related apparel on Tuesday,March 9th in solidarity with your colleagues on the bargaining team.
  • Add a pro-union message to your email signature:
    • I am a proud member of the Augsburg Staff Union
    • I support an Augsburg Contract with Augsburg Values

We, the Augsburg staff union, are committed to a contract that reflects Augsburg values. The stronger and more unified we are, the quicker we win a favorable contract!
Interested in getting involved? Want to learn more about the bargaining process? Join the Contract Action Team! We meet Tuesdays at 6:30 pm.

Please reach out to us at if you need any assistance in attending our Town Halls or CAT meetings.

Survey results and upcoming town hall

Header:  Update

Dear Colleagues,
We have some exciting updates to share!
Members of the Contract Action Team have worked hard over the past few weeks to collect and interpret the results of the bargaining issues survey. The key findings of the survey are in! A summary is attached here.
The Bargaining Team will continue to use the survey data to help inform the writing of proposals during contract negotiations. The Contract Action Team may also do additional surveys of key topics. 
Questions about bargaining?
All union members are invited to the next Town Hall on Thursday, March 4th at 12 pm.
Members of the Contract Action Team and the Bargaining Team representatives will be answering questions about what to expect during bargaining, and how you can show your support so we win the best contract possible for everyone.
Join the Contract Action Team!
The CAT meets every Tuesday at 6:30 pm. All union members are welcome to join at any time to help organize the contract campaign!
Other ways to show your support:

  • Attend the Town Hall on March 4th
  • Show your support for the Bargaining Team by wearing your maroon Auggie gear on March 9th, which is when bargaining begins!
  • New Augsburg Staff Union Zoom backgrounds coming soon!

Please reach out to us at if you need any assistance in attending our Town Halls or CAT meetings.

Next Steps

Dear colleagues,
As we move forward with our staff union officially recognized, we want to give you a few updates on the next steps in the process and how you can be involved. Here are some of the things we’ll be doing over the coming weeks as we prepare for negotiations on our first contract!

Contract Action Team
We will be forming a Contract Action Team (CAT) of leaders who will serve as a communication network to ensure that every staff member is being directly and consistently updated and heard from. This group is open to everyone and we would love you to join us for our first meeting on Tuesday, January 26th at 6:30pmRegister here to attend and feel free to join for more information even if you’re not sure of what role you’d like to play. Ideally we would have at least one leader from every department in our bargaining unit on the CAT team. Please let us know if you’re interested in representing your department on the CAT! 

Bargaining Surveys
One of the things we’ll do at the first CAT team meeting is review and begin distributing our bargaining surveys. These surveys (which will also be sent out to everyone electronically) will be a crucial part of our process to ensure that we have a complete understanding of what every staff member’s priorities are for the contract. Please make sure to watch for the survey when it is sent out and make sure to take time to complete one.

Bargaining Team
There will be a section on the bargaining surveys that allow you to nominate yourself or someone else to serve on our bargaining team. After we’ve received surveys and nominations, we’ll hold an election (also electronically) to form our official Bargaining Team that will be representing us at the bargaining table for negotiations with the administration. We’ll be sharing more details about this process in the coming weeks, but don’t hesitate to reach out with questions about this role and to express interest!

New Rights 
Now that we have been recognized as a union, we have new rights immediately as individuals in our work at Augsburg, even before we reach an agreement on a contract: 

  1. No Unilateral Changes. Whereas in the past, as at-will employees, the administration or managers could impose any changes they wanted on staff without any back-and-forth conversation, now that we are a union, they are required to negotiate with us over these changes. If your working conditions or any important aspect of your job is being changed that you don’t want or aren’t comfortable with, please contact us and we can help address the situation.
  2. Right to Representation. You now have the right to request a union representative in any meeting or conversation with a manager, supervisor, or HR that could potentially lead to discipline. If you are asked to attend such a meeting, you can say the following to invoke what are known as your Weingarten Rights“If this discussion could in any way lead to my being disciplined or discharged, request that my Union representative be present at the meeting. Without representation, I choose not to answer any questions.” Please contact us as soon as possible if you are in this situation.

NLRB Notification
We have filed the proper paperwork with the National Labor Relations Board notifying them that Augsburg has recognized our union now that our agreed upon election process through the Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services is complete.

We’ll continue to provide updates as we move forward together in this process and we invite you to get involved in as much as you are able to. We will announce other opportunities for staff members to engage and ensure that we continue building our union in the most inclusive and democratic way possible. As always, don’t hesitate to reach out with your questions, concerns, feedback, and suggestions!
In solidarity,Augsburg Staff Union Organizing Committee

December 4 Update

Dear Augsburg Staff,
We’re one week closer to our election! We expect to have an Election Order issued by the Bureau of Mediation Services on Monday, December 7th. The Election Order officially begins the process that will bring us to vote on the union! We will be reaching out to you individually to confirm your plan to vote.
As soon as we have the confirmed dates for the election we will let you know!
You may have seen President Pribbenow begin sending us emails letting us know that the administration is going to be holding “information sessions” to share their views on our union. While we support everyone being informed about our union and what it will mean for you as an individual and for us as a collective staff, the truth is, theadministration has no role in the decision we are making as a group of coworkers. A truly progressive employer would stay neutral in this situation without trying to discourage us against something we’ve already collectively decided. We are disappointed to see the administration choosing this path and we know it doesn’t live up to Augsburg’s highest values. The good news is that our campaign is rooted in these shared values and when every eligible staff member votes, we are going to win this election and move our institution forward. 
We keep hoping that the administration will live up to our shared Augsburg values, but unfortunately we’re seeing more and more typical employer anti-union behavior. Here are some of things they’ve already said or might say in the coming weeks:

  • Union as a Third Party – We have already seen President Pribbenow refer to our Augsburg Staff Union as a third party. This is a very misleading and common anti-union statement intended to make us confused about what a union really is. It is also intended to raise concerns about how a union will affect working relationships between staff and management and other hypothetical problems that don’t bear out in reality. We the staff at Augsburg are the Augsburg Staff Union, and we will collectively decide everything that we do as a union by voting, from the decision to form our union, to elect our leaders, to deciding what we prioritize to bargain for, and whether to ratify our contract once it is negotiated. While we will be affiliated with Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 12, we will control the decisions that affect us and our work at Augsburg. 
  • Futility – Employers often attempt to discourage employees from unionizing by making them believe that forming a union will not make any difference. One example of this could be talking about Augsburg’s poor budgetary situation and implying that there is no money in the budget for any of the positive changes we plan to negotiate for. The reality is, when we win recognition for our union, the Administration will be legally required to begin negotiating with us in good faith to make improvements for staff and we will have the ability to access information about the Augsburg budget that we currently have no access to. If they really believed we won’t have the power to make real gains, why are they trying so hard to try to change our minds?
  • Dues – It’s true we will pay dues for the protections and support we receive in our union. However, we will not pay dues to OPEIU Local 12 until after we have negotiated and voted on our contract. This gives us the opportunity to ensure that the wage and benefit increases, and other protections that we negotiate are worth the cost of dues. OPEIU Local 12 calculates monthly dues based on the following formula: 2x your hourly wage/salary equivalent + $9.50. There is a cap of $53 a month that no member can exceed. Not only can we negotiate for wage increases, we can also negotiate better benefits and lower healthcare costs that will save us money.
  • It’s an irreversible decision – The truth is, workers can remove or disband unions through the same process we’re forming one, by having a majority vote to remove it. Inconveniently for most employers, workers generally like their union when they have one and wouldn’t vote to remove it. 

While these are likely to be some of the themes we will sadly hear from the Administration over the coming weeks, there may be other objections raised as well. Please reach out to us when you hear things that give you concern or confusion. We know Augsburg can be better than this and we’ll get through this if we stick together, stay informed, and vote Yes when our ballots arrive.

December 2 Update

Dear Augsburg Staff,
We have exciting news to share with you about our union and important reminders about the next Town Hall/Q&A’s! See links below to register.
Our Augsburg Staff Union Organizing Committee has come to an agreement with President Pribbenow regarding the terms of an election. Here’s what that means:

  • Our election will be conducted by mail-in ballot.
  • Our election will be overseen by the Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services, a trusted and neutral institution that is familiar with running union elections.
  • We should begin receiving our ballots in the mail within two weeks from now. 
  • We will have roughly two weeks to return our ballots by mail.
  • Once we have confirmation from the Bureau of Mediation Services that they have issued an Election Order, we will know the official start date of the election.
  • A majority of union-eligible staff will need to Vote Yes for our Augsburg Staff Union to be formed with OPEIU Local 12.
  • Your vote matters! Not returning a ballot will count as a “No” vote so it’s critical that every supporter be sure to get their Yes votes sent in and counted. (Note- This method of counting votes is abnormal but the Administration insisted on it being in the agreement.)
  • As you saw in President Pribbenow’s email Monday, the Administration is insisting that Shared Services departments be excluded from the vote. We strongly disagree but have determined the best path for everyone is for us to move forward with our vote so we can begin making positive changes for all staff. We continue to believe that all staff at Augsburg deserve the right to organize and have our voices heard. 
  • We maintain an overwhelming majority of support and we will win this election as long as every supporter votes.

That’s a lot of information! Don’t worry, we’re making sure everyone on staff knows exactly what this means to them, so expect to be contacted by one of us, your colleagues, shortly to talk more about our election.
Now that we have achieved the most fair, timely, and inclusive process possible, we’re excited to move forward with all of you to win our election and finally gain the recognition and voice that we all deserve.

November 20 Update

Hello Supporters of the Augsburg Staff Union,

Thank you so much to everyone who joined us last week for our Virtual “Shine a Light” Vigil on Facebook Live! Having the support and solidarity of community, students, faculty, alumni, gives us the strength and resolve to press on in our campaign for a voice and seat at the table.

It has now been over 3 weeks since we announced our staff union and asked the Administration and President Paul Pribbenow for a fair process to recognize our union. It has also been over a week since we provided a detailed election agreement to President Pribbenow and we have yet to receive any substantive response either agreeing to our proposal or proposing something different.

While Augsburg professes many admirable and progressive values in the community, creating unnecessary delays and dragging out the process is a typical anti-union response we’d expect to see from a large corporation, not Augsburg. Whether the delays are intended to harm our campaign or not, the Administration must be held accountable and urged to live up to its own values.

What we are asking is simple: Let us vote. Let us have a fair, timely, and inclusive election where we will confirm our strong majority of support among staff that have already come forward publicly to request recognition.

Please take a moment to contact President Paul Pribbenow and ask him to support a fair, timely, inclusive process for the Augsburg Staff Union to be recognized. You can call and leave him a message at 612-330-1212, email at or message on Twitter @PaulPribbenow

If you’d like to publicly endorse our campaign, you can submit a statement and photo here.

We’ll continue to keep you updated on the progress in our campaign and thanks again for your support and all you do in our community!