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Group of U of M faculty push for union vote

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By the end of the year, a group of faculty at the University of Minnesota hopes to get authorization to hold a union vote.

The group, which includes both tenured and non-tenured faculty, would be represented by the Service Employees International Union Local 284. In order to hold a vote, they'll need 30 percent of eligible faculty to submit union authorization cards.

Erin Trapp, a senior lecturer in cultural studies and comparative literature, says non-tenured instructors are looking for more security.

  "The demands would be very different than they would be for faculty," Trapp said. "I think there would be an interest in job security, in research funding, having contracts where if you worked here for three years, you could be given the status equivalent to tenure, so you wouldn't be worrying if you'd have a job next year."

Some tenured faculty involved in the union drive hope the union would give them more of a power in the governance of the university.

Mark Borello, a professor of science history, thinks a union will help the U avoid some larger issues faced at other large universities.

  "It's really about the loss of the mission of public higher education and just a concern that because of the trends in higher education where there's more contingent faculty, there's fewer tenure line positions, there's less involvement of the faculty in the governance of the university," Borello said.

The union push originally involved just part time and non-tenured professors, but has grown to also include tenured faculty.

Graduate assistants at the U voted not to unionize in 2012. The last faculty unionization vote failed in 1997.