Adjuncts at Bergen Community College have voted to unionize through the American Federation of Teachers, The Bergen County Record reported. New Jersey community colleges have seen strong union representation among adjuncts, and organizers at Bergen said that they were impressed with gains made at other campuses.
The United Steelworkers -- not a major force in academic labor, but a major force in Pittsburgh labor -- has started a campaign to organize adjuncts at Duquesne University, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. The union is considering similar drives among adjuncts at other colleges in the area.
Federal agencies are conducting a review of research they support that could be used by terrorist groups. The document announcing the review note the need to balance multiple issues in the review. "Life sciences research is essential to the scientific advances that underpin improvements in the health and safety of the public, agricultural crops and other plants, animals, the environment, materiel, and national security. Despite its value and benefits, some research may provide knowledge, information, products, or technologies that could be misused for harmful purposes," the document says. "Measures that mitigate the risks ... should be applied, where appropriate, in a manner that minimizes, to the extent possible, adverse impact on legitimate research, is commensurate with the risk, includes flexible approaches that leverage existing processes, and endeavors to preserve and foster the benefits of research."
Faculty members at New England College quickly pledged to donate $100,000 after learning that the college planned staff layoffs, and that such a sum would prevent them, The Concord Monitor reported. The layoffs had been planned as one way to deal with a $350,000 deficit created by an enrollment shortfall. While the layoffs have been averted, staff members will be required to take furlough days (anywhere from five days to several weeks) between now and June.
The National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and other federal agencies plan to announce today a major new research program focused on big data computing, The New York Times reported. The agencies will pledge $200 million for the effort.
Two band faculty members at Florida A&M University were present during hazing of pledges who wanted to join an honorary band fraternity, several students have told authorities, The Orlando Sentinel reported. The hazing allegedly took place at the home of Diron Holloway, a FAMU professor who is director of the marching band's saxophone section, and involved paddling. Holloway and the other faculty member, Anthony Simons, a music professor, could not be reached for comment. The police report detailing the allegations is the latest development in the investigation of a student death last year that appears to be hazing-related. The university has maintained that it has long had a "no tolerance" approach to hazing, a stance undercut by the report of faculty involvement. The report was released Wednesday and both Holloway and Simmons were then placed on leave by the university, The Tallahassee Democrat reported.
In today’s Academic Minute, Stacey Robertson of Bradley University explains how many of the tactics used by 19th-century abolitionists have been adapted and employed by those seeking to eradicate modern forms of slavery. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.
A few years ago, a number of community colleges introduced "midnight classes," courses meeting late at night, at a time that works for some working adults (and for institutions without space during peak hours). The Miami Herald reported that Miami Dade College and a few other institutions have started courses that meet at 6 a.m. or 6:30 a.m. For some students, this is the time that they have free. Students report that the courses fit their schedules and it's one time of day that parking is easy to find.
The University of Illinois at Chicago and a faculty union seeking to be recognized have been fighting over whether a single unit can represent both tenure-track and non-tenure-track faculty (as the union wants) or whether separate unions are needed (as the university wants). The union is now proposing that the university recognize two unions, but that may not happen either -- at least right now. Last week, an Illinois appeals court ruled that state law bars a single union for the faculty groups. Throughout the dispute, the university has said it would not object to two unions, and on Tuesday the union proposed just that. It stated that it would not appeal the court ruling, but asked the university to "voluntarily" negotiate with two faculty unions -- even though the only official filing of petitions has been on behalf of a single union.
"We take this step because, like you, we are concerned about the deteriorating relations between the faculty and the administration. Although the appeal process so far has only worsened those relations, we recognize and applaud the board’s acknowledgement that there is a problem," says the letter from UIC United Faculty, which is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers and the American Association of University Professors. "In urging you to begin negotiations with us as two bargaining units, we are, of course, only asking you to do what you have consistently said you wanted to do..... We ourselves are not convinced that two separate units is the best way to foster a better relationship between the faculty and the administration but, like the administration, we are very eager to make that relationship better.... If you will join us -- on your terms -- at the bargaining table, the turnaround can begin today."
The university indicated, however, that it may insist on the two unions starting from scratch obtaining signatures on petitions. A spokesman said via e-mail: "As a general policy and practice, the university does not voluntarily recognize unions as 'exclusive representatives' for collective bargaining on behalf of groups of employees. Majority interest is determined either by the union prevailing in a secret ballot election, or by investigation and certification by the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board that the union has obtained authorization cards signed by a majority of employees in the bargaining unit."
Union leaders said that the university's response raised doubts about its earlier statements about being open to two unions. But the union has collected petitions for two unions and is prepared to go ahead one way or another, they said.
University of Minnesota graduate student workers have voted against unionization, The Star-Tribune reported. About 62 percent of graduate assistants opposed forming a union, according to results announced Monday, with two-thirds of 4,400 eligible students voting. This was the fourth failed attempt since 1990 to unionize graduate workers. University administrators said they were pleased with the results.