President Mathews Provides Update on Collective Bargaining
Published on 04/18/2019
Southwestern Michigan College’s negotiations with the Faculty Union have so far produced over 20 tentative agreements through 18 bargaining sessions to date. Multiple members of the administration and the full-time faculty have been involved in these productive discussions. Negotiations continue, with two more sessions scheduled for April and four for May.
Despite significant progress, there are some topics where the College and the Union have been unable to come to agreement. For this reason, on April 5, the College requested mediation services from the Michigan Employment Relations Commission. It is our hope that, with this added facilitation, an agreement can be reached this Spring or Summer.
Both sides are eager to bring this process to conclusion and continue our joint mission of providing the community with affordable access to high-quality postsecondary career preparation and college education.
Faculty Vote to Unionize
Published on 2/28/2018
In January of 2018, 31 of the college's 58 full-time faculty members voted to unionize as a collective bargaining unit to be represented by the Michigan Education Association (MEA).
Immediately after the vote, President Mathews sent the following email to full-time faculty members urging them to remain focused on working for the benefit of students and the community:
Today, at the Michigan Employee Relations Commission, the ballots submitted by full-time faculty regarding whether or not to unionize were counted. The result of the vote from the 58 eligible individuals was: 31“YES”, 23 “NO” with 4 not voting.
Now that our future course is more defined, I want to again remind everyone that voting whether or not to organize into a collective bargaining unit is a protected legal right. Southwestern Michigan College did everything within our power to uphold that right and ensure that a fair election was conducted to determine whether or not the majority of full-time faculty wanted to be collectively organized by the MEA. Now that the majority has decided to unionize, we need to continue to work together in our mission of serving the community with affordable access to high quality education.
My expectation remains that all of us continue to treat each other with professional courtesy and respect at all times. The College will not tolerate any harassment or retaliation directed at individuals based on their position on this issue. As I said before the election, if at any time you feel threatened or coerced, please immediately forward me the details of the event so my office can promptly and thoroughly investigate and address any misconduct.
I look forward to continuing to work with all of the full-time faculty collectively for the benefit of our students and our community, to make SMC the best it can possibly be.
David M. Mathews, Ph.D.
In the following weeks, there was interest by some faculty members in altering the current academic calendar, which had been approved by the board of trustees in 2017. However, administration also received communication from other faculty members who did NOT want to revise the approved calendar.
On February 19, a letter was sent to the MEA expressing the college's desire and willingness to begin bargaining with the MEA at the earliest possible time.