We are no longer a Unionized faculty. July 31, 2006 rolled around without
a clear majority of member instructors, leaving local 47 no choice but
to quit us. At the end of the day it's hard to put my finger on exactly
how we could have come so far as to have representation and a contract
and then to lose it. But the bottom line is probably that for many of
the instructors, Union representation wasn't perceived to be worth the
$200 annual membership fees and $.36 an hour in work dues. I'm talking
about those instructors who wouldn't have joined the Union otherwise.
because of other Union work. Most of our hard core supporters have been
at MI long enough to have suffered pay cuts and worse. But after the
'independent contractor' fiasco of 2000 was circumvented, many of the
instructors lost interest and stopped paying attention. New-Hires have
only experienced a calm and respectful relationship from Management-
coincidentally, while we've had Union representation. Management played
its cards right, avoiding policies that would upset the instructors.
During the time that we were represented by Local 47, many of the faculty
experienced two significant raises. Management was able to make the
case that the Union had nothing to do with the raises, despite the fact
that the owner had maintained all along that there wouldn't be any raises...
I've certainly learned
a lot from the experience. I realize now I was projecting all the wonderful
experiences I've had working alongside instructors- many of them long
gone- I had the pleasure of knowing, into our fight for a better deal.
A part of me was hoping to 'make things right', out of respect for the
many instructors I've known to have been fucked over at MI. Philosophically
speaking, I see that I was involved in an attempt to enrich the experience
of working at MI with the meaning that derives from my personal values.
I see now that for most people the notion of working at 'just a job'
is enough. I also see how fear is the primary motivator.
I suppose I'm most
disappointed by how easy it was for a large majority of the instructors
to leave the work to our small committee. Can you even imagine how it
felt to have invested hundreds of hours on behalf of so-called Union
supporters, some of whom wouldn't even wear a pro-Union button? I'll
be more careful about picking my battles in the future.
On the other hand,
the experience of working with the committee, especially Barrett Tagliarino,
was something I wouldn't have missed. Scott Parker and Dave Hill came
in a little later but really kept our spirits up and were supportive
in many ways. And also local 47- Richard Totusek early on, David Schubach,
and of course Hal Espinosa and his assistant Amy LaCour. A real pleasure.
Our attorneys, Adam Stern in the beginning and later Lewis Levy. Reliable
often say to us, 'The Union hasn't done anything for me.' It was that
whiny-assed, hand out, 'what's in it for me' attitude that was our undoing.
Big thanks to those other instructors who were there for us and consistently
supportive. With more of you, it would have been easy.
really... In a way. 2006 rolled around and quite a few instructors failed
to renew their membership dues. The Union, naturally, and with our (the
committee's) blessing, is about to walk away. If a clear majority of
instructors aren't members in good standing by July 31, we're done.
No contract. No representation.
Finally! They said it couldn't be done. "There will be no raises...
ever." Wrong. We've been negotiating our new contract. In anticipation
of that we started a button
and information campaign which involved the students- who were keen
to support us. After all these years MI has implemented a seniority
based pay scale ($20-$30 an hour) which they intend to supplement later
on with 'merit based' raises. Some of they instructors earned a 40%
pay increase overnight. Thanks to all who helped.
It's 5 years and two contracts later, but now that the Local is actually
asking for their dues and memberships to be paid, some of the instrructors
(requires 30% of Instructors) have petitioned for what's called a 'deauthorization'
vote. If passed it would remove the clause in the contract that requires
Instructors to join the Union, but in effect it would end our Union
representation because the local can't afford the cost of representing
us (they've already spent upwards of $60k on our behalf) without our