NMC faculty says 'yes' to union

Mar 12, 2015

Faculty at Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City will soon begin negotiating contracts through a union. 75 percent of the faculty voted ‘yes’ to join the Michigan Education Association – the state's largest teachers' union.

Nancy Gray, chair of the college's faculty council, says she’s excited about the future.

“We will have a voice at the table," Gray says. "And we will have an opportunity to speak directly and have the direct ability to negotiate a contract.”

Faculty representatives will not say exactly why the effort to join a union began, but officials at NMC have some ideas.

“I think there is a sense of some loss of control over [the faculty's] domain in the classroom and a desire for a different type of conversation with leadership," Marguerite Cotto says. She's the college's vice president for lifelong and professional learning.

Still, Cotto says she did not expect to see results this one-sided. 65 faculty members voted 'yes' – compared to 16 'no' votes.

Faculty council chair Nancy Gray says she plans to reach out to all the faculty at the college to discuss the future.

“We do have 16 colleagues who felt strongly enough to vote no," Gray says. "We don’t know who those people are, but we want to make sure that we are sensitive to how everyone feels.”

Officials at NMC say they have no plans to challenge the results. But state officials still need to certify the vote, which could happen later this month.

Then faculty and the state’s largest teachers’ union can begin negotiating salaries, benefits and other conditions with leaders at NMC.