Monday, September 30, 2013

Myth and the October 1 Election

The Myth of Union Dues

As classroom faculty we know that clarity and truth are vital communication elements.  Our students deserve it, and we work hard to provide it.  So it should come as no surprise that the goal for the HSSU-NEA in these days before the October 1 election is for clarity and truth.

In a letter to the faculty dated September 11, the Interim President and Chairwoman of the Board of Regents stated, “Further, please bear in mind that if you vote to join the union, your take-home pay will be reduced by your union dues.    In their letter to the faculty dated September 24, they again raised the spectre of “paying union dues.”

It is true that members of the HSSU-NEA pay “union dues,” but as Maya Angelou so elegantly put it, “Half a truth is often a great lie.”

1.    The election on October 1 is not “to join the union,” it is to elect MNEA as your representative for the purpose of collective bargaining, and negotiating a collective bargaining agreement for the full time faculty.  You are not voting “to join the union.”

2.    Union membership is not a requirement. In fact, the HSSU-NEA fully embraces the duty of fair representation, which obligates an exclusive representative to enforce a collective bargaining agreement for all members of the bargaining unit, in this case, all HSSU-NEA full time faculty, HSSU-NEA members or not.  Know this:

·      All full time faculty will be consulted as we prepare for bargaining. 
·      All full time faculty will participate in an agreement ratification vote. 
·      All full time faculty will enjoy the rights and benefits of a collective bargaining agreement. 

Ultimately, the HSSU-NEA is confident the majority of full time faculty will come to see and understand the benefits of membership, and will decide as individuals to voluntarily join us in solidarity.  But union membership is not, will not, and cannot be a requisite for either the election or the benefits of having MNEA as your representative for bargaining.

 The Myth of Relinquishing Your “Right of Communication” to a Third Party

The ballot you will receive on Tuesday will read, “I wish to designate Missouri National Education Association to be my exclusive representative for purposes of meeting with representatives of Harris-Stowe State University on matters related to collective bargaining.”

The HSSU-NEA’s goal is a collective bargaining agreement to secure our individual rights as Harris-Stowe faculty.  Academic freedom, professional development, sabbaticals, and tenure and promotion - for example - are core values and rights which each of us as individual faculty members deserve to have clearly articulated in writing.

Know this:  Our individual right (not “privilege” as the interim president and chairwoman referred to it) to speak openly and honestly as Harris-Stowe faculty members  - whether to the administration or Board of Regents or in another university forum – will be enhanced by a YES vote on Tuesday.

Clarity and truth.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

HSSU Board of Regents / Administration and the October 1 Election

Since the publication of the letter from the administration and Board of Regents two weeks ago, many of you have asked about their role in the October 1 election. 

The HSSU administration and the Board of Regents have the right to educate  full-time faculty on the benefits or disadvantages of electing MNEA as their collective bargaining representative.  They may do this in large or small groups, one-on-one engagement, or – as you saw – through a letter to the faculty at-large.

However, between now and the election the university cannot do the following.

  •        Spy on you or watch you to see if you are participating in election or organizing activities.

  •        Cruise by organizing or HSSU-NEA election meeting locations or engage in surveillance through a third party.

  •        Promise you special “perks” or “favors” to keep you from organizing or participating in election activities.

  •        Make negative threats or promises to you.

  •        Interrogate you about your organizing or election activities.

  •        Ask you about your relationship to HSSU-NEA or how you intend to vote.

  •        Hire you or fire you based on your organizing or election activities.

  •         Ask you about the specifics of the HSSU-NEA or its meetings.

  •        Threaten you with adverse consequence if you vote for recognition.

  •        Discuss your organizing or election activities with you either individually or in small groups in the office of administrators.  

  •          Initiate a “do not vote for” or “do not organize” petition.

If a faculty member believes at any time one of these have occurred, he or she should document the situation and report it to the HSSU-NEA.

We are excited to be moving forward to shared-decision making and a brighter future for our students and our university.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Sunshine on HSSU "Transparency" and "Effectiveness"

As a state supported public institution, HSSU is bound by the legal requirement that records be open and accessible to the public.  We all know that we are just a few clicks away from being able to access the salaries of public employees – by name--through the Blue Book.  When those records are not readily accessible, the Revised Statutes of Missouri, through the Sunshine Law, Chapter 610, provide just such an avenue.

 The HSSU-NEA has two outstanding Sunshine requests pending with the university.


In a letter dated August 29, HSSU Interim President Constance Gully reported that the Board of Regents had approved a revised organizational structure “in its efforts to improve effectiveness and continued growth in size, scope, and service to the students of Harris-Stowe University.”

The HSSU-NEA believes in “effectiveness”, and we also believe in open records of public institutions.  To that end, on September 12 MNEA staff, utilizing the Sunshine Law, requested the following information from Harris-Stowe State University:

  •       Salary, stipends, bonuses, and job description for each of the threenewly promoted vice presidents and the interim president.

  •      Records for any consultant contracts with specific compensation issues by Harris-Stowe State University for the 2013-2014 school year.

  •      Salary, stipends, or consultant fees to past president Dr. Henry Givens for the 2013 2014 school year.


Last week Interim President Gully and the president of the Board of Regents, Thelma Cook, issued a letter to the full-time faculty addressing the upcoming October 1 election.  In closing they stated, “Transparency is our goal.  We want you to have honest information in a candid manner.” MNEA requested the following information from the university two months ago:

  • Audited university financial records for the past four years.

A thorough review of HSSU financial records is the first step in engaging the Board of Regents in serious, collaborative, and thoughtful collective bargaining.

You can trust the HSSU-NEA will keep you apprised of our efforts for effective transparency.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Importance of a Collective Bargaining Agreement for Harris-Stowe Faculty

Following a successful election on October 1, the HSSU-NEA will engage the Board of Regents in a collective bargaining process where the HSSU-NEA and Board will negotiate – as equals – to arrive at a collective bargaining agreement (CBA).  A legally binding agreement which cannot be changed unilaterally by either party, the CBA will define the rights and terms and conditions of employment for Harris-Stowe regular full-time faculty.

As a Harris-Stowe faculty member you receive a personal employment contract each year defining (minimal) terms of employment as unilaterally determined by the Board of Regents.  That contract is not a Collective Bargaining Agreement.  On this page are links for the collective bargaining agreements for the faculty of SIU-Carbondale and FAMU.  In addition, view the CBA for St. Louis Community College by clicking here.

We invite you to review each one carefully in order to appreciate the comprehensive breadth of a CBA, and to contemplate not only what it can mean for each of us as Harris-Stowe faculty, but what a stronger faculty can mean for our students.

A “Yes” vote on October 1 will be a major step to ensuring the fair working conditions, rights, and benefits you deserve.


Florida A & M  University CBA

Monday, September 9, 2013

Election Guidelines
Faculty Representation Election
Collective Bargaining and Shared Decision Making
October 1

The HSSU-NEA would like to thank all of our faculty colleagues who have given your support to achieve a fair and equal voice within the university.  From the majority of you who signed cards in March asking that Missouri NEA be recognized as your exclusive bargaining representative, to the many of you who have since stepped forward and made a commitment for a successful election, we can only promise that our work will not end with the counting of the ballots on October 1.  The very real work of achieving a collective bargaining agreement begins the next day.  We are prepared for that challenge. 

To ensure a fair election the HSSU-NEA and the Board of Regents have agreed to the services of Edward J. Harrick and Richard L. Horn, recognized arbitrators and mediators, as Election Judges.  About 14 days before the election you will receive a letter through the mail with election details. This same information will be posted at HSSU faculty work areas.

In short, the election on Tuesday, October 1 will take place from 9:00 a.m. to noon, and 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. at two polling places, one on the North Campus and one on the South Campus.  

The secret ballot will read:  I wish to designate Missouri National Education Association to be my exclusive representative for purposes of meeting with representatives of Harris-Stowe State University on matters related to collective bargaining.  You will mark “Yes” or “No” on the ballot.  We want to emphasize this is a secret ballot election.  The only people who know how you vote are the ones you tell.

The ballots will be counted following voting at the end of the day, and the majority of the ballots cast (50% plus 1) will determine the outcome.

The HSSU-NEA has worked hard to secure a fair and democratic election for the faculty.  We encourage everyone to exercise your right to vote on October 1.

Please contact the HSSU-NEA with any questions you may have.