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Miami University professors seek to unionize

Jeff Sabo
Miami University

A Miami University English professor says a strong majority of her coworkers want to unionize. Theresa Kulbaga says they've filed a petition with the state labor relations board.

“What that will do is it will either allow Miami University administration to recognize us as a union outright, or it will allow us to be recognized through an election process, hopefully in fall semester,” she says.

Kulbaga says a collective bargaining unit will give faculty a greater voice in how the university is run. “Universities are supposed to be run through shared governance between faculty and administration,” she says. “What we have at Miami right now is really a façade of shared governance. We have a lot of top-down decision making.”

Kulbaga says there is a university senate, but it's only an advisory board. She says professors and instructors are already represented by an advocacy chapter of the American Association of University Professors.

“But the advocacy chapter does not have a legal contract," she says. "With a legal contract we are going to be able to put in writing the policies that will help support faculty and students in our educational mission. It will also allow us to get transparent budget numbers.”

Ten out of the 14 public universities in Ohio have collective bargaining units representing faculty.

In a statement, the University says a secret ballot election is the more fair and accurate way to determine if a majority of faculty members want to be represented. Miami says the election will be determined by a simple majority.

The school says the decision to organize will have a substantial impact. The statement to WVXU continues: "Forming a collective bargaining unit will fundamentally change the way Miami Administration and faculty all work together to achieve our mission and serve our students."

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Rinehart has been a radio reporter since 1994 with positions in markets like Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska; Sioux City, Iowa; Dayton, Ohio: and most recently as senior correspondent and anchor for Cincinnati’s WLW-AM.