Hamline adjunct faculty members vote to join union

In the first union-organizing election among faculty members at a private college in Minnesota, adjunct instructors at Hamline University in St. Paul voted to join Local 284 of the Service Employees International Union.Eligible faculty members at Hamline cast their ballots by mail earlier this month. A vote tally took place this morning at the Minneapolis office of the National Labor Relations Board, with 72 percent voting in favor of forming the union.In a press release announcing the election results, SEIU declared the election results a “victory for adjunct faculty across the nation,” noting that Hamline faculty members had joined instructors at Northeastern University, Georgetown University and a growing number schools across the U.S. in forming unions via the SEIU’s Adjunct Action campaign.Forming a union is also a step toward improving higher education for students and instructors at the 160-year-old institution, adjunct faculty members said. David Weiss, an adjunct instructor in Hamline’s Religion Department, called it a “great day for faculty, students and the whole Hamline community.”“By coming together to address the low pay and lack of benefits and stability for adjunct faculty, we are taking steps to strengthen all of higher education for students and faculty alike,” he said. “I’m confident that our success today will help empower other workers, including adjunct faculty like ourselves at schools like St. Continue Reading

Community rallies behind St. Paul teachers’ campaign

Wearing red scarves, hats and shirts to show their solidarity with union teachers, families packed the parking lot outside St. Paul Public Schools headquarters Tuesday during a rally in support of smaller class sizes, expanded pre-kindergarten and other community-driven priorities teachers have brought to the table in contract negotiations with the district.

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Laundry workers picket for fair contract on St. Paul’s East Side

Workers who clean linens for hospitals across the metro picketed outside Health Systems Cooperative Laundries on St. Paul’s East Side, giving their employer a taste of what to expect if management continues to drag its feet in negotiations.About 240 Health Systems Cooperative employees, members of Workers United Local 150, have been working without a contract since March 31. A temporary extension of the previous contract expired July 14.Despite a dozen bargaining sessions since then, the two sides remain far apart on contract provisions protecting basic workers’ rights, Workers United Area Director Julie Boots said, adding that reflects a change from previous rounds of contract negotiations.“Generally, we’ve been able to bargain decent contracts with no problems, but they hired an anti-union lawyer this time,” Boots said. “They want to basically gut and rewrite our entire contract.“It’s not really about the money at this point. It’s about workers’ rights, and respect and dignity on the job.”The informational picket, which began Thursday after the laundry facility’s day shift ended, drew more than 125 workers and supporters from the labor community. Continue Reading

OPINION | ‘I don’t have a pension … What makes you so special?’

If your job offers a defined-benefit retirement plan, odds are good you’ve heard it before, maybe even across the negotiating table: Pensions are a relic of the past. Bolstered by slick marketing campaigns underwritten by Wall Street investment firms, employers have been successful in convincing a generation of American workers they don’t need pensions to have a secure retirement. But a growing body of research suggests the alternatives – 401(k) and other defined-contribution plans – are very risky business, and the U.S. may be headed for a retirement crisis as a result.

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Education funding, tax reform highlight gains made in 2013 session, unions say

Minnesota’s working families will see the most obvious fruits of the 2013 legislative session in their public schools and property-tax bills, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg of investments, reforms and initiatives passed by labor-endorsed majorities in the Legislature this year, union leaders said. The Minnesota AFL-CIO called the session, which adjourned May 20, “one of the most productive legislative sessions for working Minnesotans in a generation,” pointing to a laundry list of bills passed by DFL majorities – with the support of DFL Gov. Mark Dayton – “that will help countless numbers of working people in Minnesota.”

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For minimum-wage earners in Minnesota, ‘a constant juggling act’

The state legislator spending a week on minimum wage met Thursday with three Minnesotans for whom the minimum-wage challenge is an everyday reality. Four days into his five-day walk in the shoes of the state’s lowest-paid workers, Rep. Jason Metsa listened as three minimum-wage earners related the experiences Metsa wouldn’t have during his five-day experiment.

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