What is the IFO?
The IFO is the Inter Faculty Organization. It is an official union of public employees - in this case, faculty in the seven Minnesota State Universities.
What is the FA?
The Faculty Association (FA) is the local unit of the IFO on each of the seven campuses. At Moorhead, we are the Minnesota State University Moorhead Faculty Association. We have considerable autonomy regarding campus academic matters and our own structure. We are, of course, bound to follow the contract (Master Agreement) between MnSCU and the IFO.
Does the IFO represent EVERY person who teaches at one of the seven universities?
Almost. By law, members of the UNIT include all who teach more than one course in an academic year or more than three credits. Meet either of those standards and you are in the UNIT and covered by the union contract, represented by the union, and also charged "fair share" dues. Fair share dues are 85% of full dues. This is all automatic (though processing lags have been known).
Does that also mean that I am a full voting member of the union?
No. Each faculty member makes the decision for him or herself about joining the union. You must sign-up to become a member of the UNION. Membership carries over from year to year. Union members pay full (100%) dues. UNION members have the right to vote on election of representatives, policy resolutions and ratification of the contract. UNION members are also eligible for consideration for appointment to campus and statewide committees.
How did we get to be a UNION?
Public Employees, including faculty at public institutions, have no general right to unionize. The State of Minnesota created the right when it adopted the Public Employment Labor Relations Act (PELRA), which sets out both public policy reasons for encouraging unions and the operating details. Essentially, it calls for MnSCU and the IFO to do two things-
Meet and Negotiate
Meet and Confer
What does Meet and Negotiate mean?
PELRA (state law) defines this to mean the mutual obligation of MnSCU and the IFO to meet with the good faith intent of entering into an agreement on terms and conditions of employment. In other words, to try to reach a contract. Each of the seven campuses have representatives who make up the IFO side of the negotiating team. More about PELRA
Doesn't "terms and conditions of employment" cover just about everything?
No. It is a more limited concept that includes "hours of employment, compensation therefor including fringe benefits and employer's personnel policies affecting working conditions of the employees." So salary, duty days, insurance and things like tenure and retrenchment are all terms and conditions of employment. NOT included in terms and conditions of employment is the traditional faculty role in university governance or academic decision making.
What is Meet and Confer?
The term Meet and Confer refers to the official discussions between faculty, through their union, and the administration. It is the legal structure that provides for what most of us in academe see as the necessary communication and policy making between faculty and administration. Some may be more familiar with a university senate or similar mechanism.
PELRA (state law) provides the MnSCU has the obligation to meet and confer with faculty to discuss policies and other matters relating to their employment which are not terms and conditions of employment. It recognizes that faculty possess knowledge, expertise, and dedication which is helpful and necessary to the operation and quality of public services. When there is a union like the IFO the law goes further and requires that MnSCU only meet and confer through the union. So state law gives us the right to discuss all sorts of academic matters with the administration and requires such discussion go through the union.
The MnSCU - IFO Master Agreement (contract) provides greater detail about Meet and Confer including at the campus level.
"The IFO shall have the right to make policy recommendations including but not limited to the following areas: budget planning and allocations, programs and program development, long-range planning, and development of campus facilities."
"When the subject of meet and confer involves any one of the areas provided below, the other party shall have the right to ten (10) duty days from the time of the meet and confer in which to respond in writing. Implementation of new policies or changes in existing policies affecting any of the listed areas shall not occur until the opportunity to meet and confer and respond to the proposals has been provided to the Association."
"The Association shall have the right to make policy recommendations, including but not limited to the following areas: curriculum; evaluation of students; graduation requirements; admission policies; budget planning and allocations; the reallocation of vacant positions that had previously been filled by tenured or probationary faculty members from one department or program to another; programs and program development; long-range planning; development of campus facilities and procedures for the selection of personnel."