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Bargaining Update: “A dumpster fire of disrespect and contempt”


“The irony of conducting online negotiations while demanding zoom be shut down shouldn’t be lost on anyone.”

              -              FSU Expanded Team Member

Dear FSU members,

We had an inspiring turnout of faculty and librarians for the bargaining session yesterday. Unfortunately, the administration refused to bargain with us. Mickey Gallagher, the UMB Director of Labor Relations arrived at the start of the meeting, handed the FSU team a statement requesting third-party arbitration to resolve the disputed ground rules, then said their team was going to take a short caucus and come back. But they never came back. They stayed in their caucus room the entire time. After almost an hour of us waiting around, they texted us, saying they would only come to the room if we promised to turn off Zoom, excluding some of our team from the session. Our reply? We refuse to negotiate over text message.

The situation would be laughable if it weren’t so outrageous. As another member of our expanded team put it: “The meeting was a dumpster fire of disrespect and honestly almost contempt. Not on the part of the union, on Mickey’s part. I was pretty surprised.” 

We have agreed to meet on-campus for bargaining. We also have asked admin many times what the problem is with allowing Zoom for those who want to participate but cannot be there in-person, and they have refused to answer that question. We are left to conclude that the answer is quite simply about power: the administration is trying to control who is on our team and can participate (and who cannot). 

“Yesterday's 'bargaining' session was yet another demonstration of the administration's lack of respect for the time and dedication of faculty and librarians. While the FSU was physically and virtually present in large numbers, the administration's only presence was a brief initial visit by Mickey Gallagher who left the room after 5 minutes supposedly to 'caucus' with other members of admin's team but never to return to the bargaining table. Disrespectful.”

           -              FSU Expanded Team Member

Admin has told librarians that to attend bargaining as silent observers, they must first get approval from their dean (herself a member of the Admin bargaining team) and, then, either take PTO or arrange to make up their work hours, a complete violation of past practice.

The refusal to allow Zoom in the room and the requirement of librarians to take paid time off to attend bargaining are repressive moves intended to divide our union and impose restrictions on who can be on our team

For the FSU, this is about our values. Are we a university that lives up to its stated values of anti-racism and health promotion? Will this administration support inclusion, participation, and shared governance? As the administration put it, in its own statement of their bargaining principles, is this behavior “enriching the human core?” 

Or, rather, are we a university whose administration refuses to compromise, that seeks to enforce its own rigid, exclusionary, and, frankly, outdated form of contract bargaining? An administration that seems eager to delay bargaining by bringing in a third-party arbitrator in order to prevent members from participating in their own contract negotiations?

We are bringing this issue to the next Faculty Council meeting, Monday, May 6 at 1pm. It is first on the agenda. Please consider attending, participating, and helping us build consensus and power vis-à-vis this authoritarian administration. (we note that all FC meetings are held hybrid and administrators frequently join those meetings via Zoom).

We will let our expanded team members have the last word:

“I joined the expanded bargaining team because it’s important to bear witness to contract negotiations and maintain a democratic ethic that is at the heart of that process. I was appalled to see management make demands and then leave the room to caucus at the start of the meeting. 30 minutes later they texted that they were ready to meet in person if their demands were met.”

"As full time NTT faculty parents of a lovely but demanding toddler, it has been especially insulting to us to see UMB Management doubling down on their ridiculous refusal to allow Zoom in the room for bargaining sessions.  By trying to shut down remote participation, Admin is effectively telling all our members with serious home-care responsibilities that we are to be excluded from these negotiations.  This is discriminatory and unacceptable.  Zoom access is a life-saver for overloaded workers, and it's become a normal part of university life: it's absurd and outright cruel to deny it to us as union members: Let Zoom in the Room!"