- Next Steps
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 6:30pm. Register 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!
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.
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!
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:
- 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.
- 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.
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.