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LEO election to begin this week

An election will be held this month for approximately 1,270 non-tenure-track instructional staff from all three campuses at the University to determine whether they want the Lecturers' Employee Organization (LEO) to be the union representing them in collective bargaining.

In accordance with state law, the election is conducted by the Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC). Ballots will be mailed to the homes of eligible faculty members beginning April 10, and ballots must be received by MERC on or before April 28. Ballots will be counted by MERC April 29, and the results will be announced shortly thereafter.

The provosts of the three campuses—Paul N. Courant (Ann Arbor), Renate McLaughlin (Flint) and Robert Simpson (Dearborn)—sent a letter last week to deans, directors and department chairs explaining the election process and reminding them of guidelines to be observed during a union election.

LEO will be certified as the exclusive bargaining representative for this group of instructional staff members—primarily adjunct faculty and lecturers—if it receives more than 50 percent of the votes cast, their letter noted. "All eligible faculty members should be encouraged to vote since this decision may have a significant impact on their employment relationship with the University," they wrote.

LEO filed a petition in January seeking to represent the University's non-tenure track instructional staff except those in selected schools. After several weeks of discussions, the union and the University came to an agreement March 21 on which faculty members would be included in the definition of the bargaining unit. The unit includes all non-tenure-track faculty at all three campuses, but excludes the following:

• Graduate student instructors

• Faculty members who also hold a tenure-track appointment

• Faculty whose non-tenure-track instructional appointment is at 0 percent effort

• Clinical and adjunct clinical faculty

• Most visiting faculty

• Supervisors (those who can make recommendations regarding the hiring, retention, evaluation or compensation of other union members).

Those eligible to vote hold appointments that began prior to or effective with Fall Term 2002, and that end at or after Winter Term 2003.

If a majority of the votes received by MERC are in favor of LEO as the representative of the bargaining unit, the University and LEO will begin the process for negotiating a collective bargaining agreement to cover the terms and conditions of their employment. Negotiations likely would begin no later than fall 2003, the provosts' letter said.

"A new collective bargaining agreement will cover all of the terms and conditions of the faculty member's appointment. Unless expressly referred to in the contract, the SPG [Standard Practice Guide] would no longer be applicable," the provosts advised.

"What might the impact of this change be? The impact will surely vary across the University. Fundamentally, the current way in which the department chair or program director and the lecturer or adjunct faculty member come to agreement on their employment relationship will end," they wrote. "Under exclusive representation such activities are called 'direct dealing' and would not be permissible. This is really the fundamental change that we think is important for faculty who are eligible to vote to consider."

If the union were not certified, it would have to wait at least one year before petitioning for another election.

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