College faculty get union ballots

Feb 19, 2015

Faculty members at Northwestern Michigan College will soon decide if they want a union. Ballots are being mailed today to 89 instructors at the community college in Traverse City.

The faculty has not publicly stated what it hopes to gain from a union. A spokeswoman for the Michigan Education Association, the organizing unit, declined to comment on the vote.

Marguerite Cotto, NMC’s vice president of lifelong and professional learning, says the concerns she’s aware of include issues like faculty wanting more say in how employees are evaluated.

“They may include participation on committees,” says Cotto. “They may include a sense of being valued and tone of communication.”

Cotto does not believe compensation is an issue.

NMC is one of just a few community colleges in Michigan without a faculty union. Most have been unionized for many years, including North Central Michigan College in Petoskey and West Shore Community College near Ludington.

Cotto believes faculty at NMC never pursued a union because the college has structured itself in a way that decision-making has been inclusive.

“We have believed that you can solve things fairly quickly as they come up through our shared governance process,” she says.

The custodial workers at NMC are organized.

Ballots from faculty are due back in two weeks. A simple majority wins.

If approved, the NMC faculty union would not include adjunct faculty. Cotto says that group includes about 300 teachers.