IFO Kicks Off Busy Spring Semester

I hope you are excited about the start of the spring semester and the valuable work you have planned.  As the school year began, we all were concerned about the impact of the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Janus decision and the pending lawsuit filed against the IFO that challenges the union’s right to serve as the exclusive representative of the faculty. The response from the faculty has been outstanding. I am proud to inform you that our membership has added nearly 200 new members this year, and we are as strong as we have ever been. The federal judge ruled in the IFO’s favor on the preliminary injunction request in our lawsuit, and the Eighth Circuit Court upheld the lower court’s ruling. Our case is now being petitioned for certiorari to the United States Supreme Court.  Our case is drawing national attention; many public sector unions are reaching out to support the IFO in this fight for the right of workers to organize and be heard. The efforts of our many grassroots organizers and individual faculty members have made us a much better union.  As your President, I appreciate the warm welcome I received when visiting campuses. I have been moved by the display of support and solidarity, so thank you!
As we reach the half-point in the academic year, there is still much to be accomplished. The legislative session has started, and funding for higher education will be one of our main priorities at the Capitol.  The influence of the IFO has encouraged MinnState to develop the largest legislative request in our history and also ask for what our universities and students need for a quality educational experience. We are optimistic that Governor Walz will be a pro-education, pro-union leader.  The IFO’s Government Relations Committee will work hard advocating for our interests and you, too, will be called on to contact your local legislators in an advocacy role.

The IFO Negotiating Team will begin collective bargaining with the System Office this spring for the 2019-2021 contract. The IFO has fought hard for better working conditions and protecting faculty values like academic freedom, tenure, and faculty control of the curriculum.  
As the MinnState Board of Trustees explores their “Reimagining Higher Education” initiative, the IFO Master Agreement will be critical to protecting terms and conditions of employment and ensuring that faculty have a voice in the future of higher education.
The fall semester saw an exciting start to the IFO’s caucus structure, as faculty from traditionally marginalized groups have been invited to caucus and discuss issues that will ultimately make us a stronger, more inclusive organization.  As our communities and the MinnState System attempt to respond to changing demographics and our need to become more diverse, equitable, and inclusive, our caucus structure provides a model for others to follow.
Take an opportunity to get involved. These are critical times for our universities and our profession.  No group is more invested in the health of our institutions, the well-being of our students, and the quality of education than our faculty. The IFO supports your voice in the things that matter to you.
Enjoy your students, enjoy your colleagues, and have a great semester.