Wednesday, December 12, 2012

36 Reasons Why You Should Thank a Union

All Breaks at Work, including your Lunch Breaks
Paid Vacation
Sick Leave
Social Security
Minimum Wage
Civil Rights Act/Title VII (Prohibits Employer Discrimination)

8-Hour Work Day
Overtime Pay
Child Labor Laws
Occupational Safety & Health Act (OSHA)
40 Hour Work Week
Worker's Compensation (Worker's Comp)
Unemployment Insurance
Workplace Safety Standards and Regulations
Employer Health Care Insurance
Collective Bargaining Rights for Employees
Wrongful Termination Laws
Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967
Whistleblower Protection Laws
Employee Polygraph Protect Act (Prohibits Employer from using a lie detector test on an employee)
Veteran's Employment and Training Services (VETS)
Compensation increases and Evaluations (Raises)
Sexual Harassment Laws
Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)
Holiday Pay
Employer Dental, Life, and Vision Insurance
Privacy Rights
Pregnancy and Parental Leave
Military Leave
The Right to Strike
Public Education for Children
Equal Pay Acts of 1963 & 2011 (Requires employers pay men and women equally for the same amount of work)
Laws Ending Sweatshops in the United States

Monday, December 10, 2012

Part-time instructors and graduate teaching assistants form umbrella union at KVCC, Western Michigan University

Ursula Zerilli | uzerilli@mlive.comBy Ursula Zerilli | 
on December 10, 2012 at 12:50 PM, updated December 10, 2012 at 12:52 PM

_MG_0459.JPGKalamazoo Valley Community College     

KALAMAZOO, MI – Local union members may have been the only labor activists celebrating in Michigan over the weekend.
Despite being enraged about Gov. Rick Snyder’s promise to sign right-to-work legislation on Tuesday, more than 1,500 part-time college teachers and graduate teaching assistants were happy to announce the formation of a consolidated union between Kalamazoo Valley Community College and Western Michigan University over the weekend.

After three days of online voting, members ratified a constitution with a 234-13 vote on Friday creating an umbrella union comprising the KVCC-Federation of Teachers, the Professional Instructors Organization (AFT Local 1903) and Teaching Assistants Union, (AFT Local 1729) on Friday. The West Michigan Federation of College Educators (WMFCE) represents 650 part-time instructors at WMU, 550 graduating teaching assistants at WMU and more than 350 part-time instructors at KVCC.

Under the new agreement, each employee unit will retain its own contract and unique identity, with members paying different dues at each union, but the three entities are sharing leadership and resources.
The collaboration stemmed from a common passion for the same issues and a desire to build union muscle by having strength in numbers.

"We may only have a few people at the table, but it's nice knowing that 1,500 are standing behind us," said Dr. Catherine Barnard, a part-time KVCC psychology instructor of 15 years. "The original issues that prompted us to organize have been addressed, but I'm learning more and more about part-time members who are on state welfare and food stamp programs."

A late paycheck, among other complaints, prompted KVCC part-time instructors to form a union last year and members voted in favor of a bargaining unitin May. More than half of the for-credit classes taught at KVCC in 2010-11 were taught by part-time instructors.

“We are the only unions from a community college and a university to do this in Michigan,” said Kelly O’Leary, a part-time instructor at Kalamazoo Valley Community College and president of the local federation of teachers. The union is currently negotiating with KVCC administrators for the first time.

Part-time instructors at WMU and KVCC are currently ineligible for health and retirement benefits, and complain of having little or no job security and lower pay than their full-time counterparts.

“There are three primary benefits of a single local with shared resources,” said Thomas Kostrzewa, a part-time instructor of political science and international studies at WMU for over 20 years and president of the Professional Instructors Organization (PIO). “…Broader access to resources, an expanded sense of community and solidarity among our members and the strength necessary to better serve our students and promote our members’ rights.”

While the leaders of the unions are thrilled about garnering enough support to collaborate, they are still enraged by Gov. Snyder’s promise to sign right-to-work legislation prohibiting unions from collecting dues or fees from workers as a condition of employment on Tuesday. Kostrzewa said he is not sure how the legislation would impact the new union yet.

Police officers and firefighters would stay in closed union shops under the measures. Local union members are hoping the governor decides to carve teachers out of the bill, as well.

“Michigan was the foundation of the labor movement around the world,” Kostrzewa said. “Unions are a result of democratic action and the idea is you can opt out of a democratic vote but you still pay your taxes. How is is it different for union dues?"
More information about the WMFCE constitution, including the full text, is available online.

Contact Ursula Zerilli at or 269-254-5295. Follow her ontwitter.

Saturday, December 8, 2012



Three labor unions representing over1500 part-time teachers and graduate teaching assistants at Western Michigan University and Kalamazoo Valley Community College are now united as the West Michigan Federation of College Educators (WMFCE) after a new constitution was ratified by the members of each union on Friday. Leaders of the three unions began developing this proposal back in April and their members voted online over a three-day period to ratify the WMFCE constitution.

Along with more than 650 part-time teachers WMU, the West Michigan Federation of College Educators will include more than 550 graduate teaching assistants at WMU and more than 300 part-time teachers at Kalamazoo Valley Community College. Under the new agreement, each employee unit will retain its own contract and unique identity, while formally sharing leadership and resources.

Kevin Wordelman

Thursday, December 6, 2012


Take a minute to review the information about our constitution mounted by the Teaching Assistants Union at

Vote to ratify the constitution that will join the KVCCFT with PIO and TAU by opening the email from the KVCCFT that contains a link to  Enter the name and email address by which you joined as a member to gain access to the vote by Friday, Dec. 7 at 6:00 PM.

Thank you!  Exciting times lie ahead . . .

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Academic Workforce Summary Data

View historic information about staffing patterns at Kalamazoo Valley Community College below. This information is drawn from the 1995 and 2009 surveys conducted by the US Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education System (IPEDS). For more information about the IPEDS data, click here.
To report on your own conditions of employment at Kalamazoo Valley Community College, click on the Survey tab above.
Kalamazoo Valley Community College
MI  49003-4070

% of Faculty
Grand Totals
% of Faculty
Grand Totals
% of Faculty
Grand Totals
19959524.7 184.7 11329.4 
200910717.4 203.3 12720.7 
   Nonmedical*10717.4 203.3 12720.7 
   Medical00.0 00.0 00.0 
Part-time non-tenure-track**
% of Faculty
Grand Totals
% of Faculty
Grand Totals
% of Faculty
Grand Totals
199520.5 26970.0 27170.6 
2009101.6 47777.7 48779.3 
   Nonmedical*101.6 47777.7 48779.3 
   Medical00.0 00.0 00.0 
Faculty grand totals (basis for percentages)
1995 total:  384
2009 total:  614
   Nonmedical:  614
   Medical:  0
* Indicates faculty members employed in all departments not part of an institution's medical school.
** Does not include graduate student teaching assistants.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Do colleges exploit their professors?

(MoneyWatch) While teenagers and parents who visit college campuses understandably ask many of the same questions, there is one that schools never get asked: How well are you treating your professors? 
It's an excellent question because in fact many college teacher are treated shabbily. Some make such paltry salaries that they qualify for food stamps. The Des Moines Register recently examined pay of state employees and discovered thatadjunct professors represented two of the five lowest paid jobs in Iowa. The other lowest-paid occupations were laborers, parking lot attendants and food workers.
Unlike full-time staff professors, many adjunct professors are part-timers and typically do not enjoy job security or workplace benefits. Their job situation is starkly different than tenured professors, who enjoy lifetime job security, health care, pensions and often light teaching loads with plenty of time for research.  
The number of adjunct professors in the U.S. has been climbing. Today roughly 70 percent of college professors are not "tenure track." Their presence is more common at regional state schools and at mid-tier private universities. (You can learn more about their plight at the website of New Faculty Majority, which aims to improve conditions for these professors.)
Why should students care if a highly educated teacher is working for peanuts? The grim working conditions can impact the quality of education that students receive. For instance, adjuncts often lack offices where they can meet with students, and they may be difficult to see outside of class because many often also teach at a different campus or school.
Adjuncts also can be tempted to make classes easier because poor student evaluations can jeopardize their chances of getting another teaching contract. These vulnerable teachers may also censor themselves in class for fear of saying anything that might offend students. This can limit students' chances of engaging in meaningful discussions. 
Students should look for schools that do a better job of hiring professors who are on the tenure track. You can find the breakdown of tenure-tenure track versus adjunct professors at any institution by using an extremely helpful search tool at the Modern Language Association
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