Faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Superior have voted 75-5 (in a unit of 100) in favor of union representation through the Association of University of Wisconsin Professionals, a local union affiliated with the AFT and AFT-Wisconsin.
The landslide vote is the first taken since passage of the 2009 state budget, which included language extending collective bargaining rights to UW faculty and academic staff. Bryan Kennedy, president of AFT-Wisconsin, says UW educators have been champing at the bit to exercise their right to vote on a union and engage in bargaining. "For over 40 years, faculty and academic staff throughout the UW system have demanded the right to collectively bargain with the employer. Today's historic and resounding election results substantiate that."
Faculty also believe that having a union will benefit the entire university, says UW-Superior sociology professor Marshall Johnson. "Faculty are among the most effective stewards of our campus community, and having a voice at the table will directly impact the success of our students and UW-Superior as a whole," he says. "Having an equal voice in issues such as workload will ultimately enable us to be attentive to our students' educational needs on an individual basis." Johnson notes that it also will strengthen the university's ability to attract and retain a top-notch faculty.
Negotiations for a first contract are expected to begin soon. Academic staff also are exploring their collective bargaining options. Meanwhile, faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire also are voting on the question of bargaining, with the count to take place next week.
May 14, 2010