President's Message: IFO remains busy heading into '19-20 academic year

Welcome to the 2019-2020 academic year - an exciting time on a university campus. Our universities educate roughly 50,000 FYE students per year and it is the faculty, coaches, librarians, and counselors that have the most integral impact on transforming the lives of our students. We are also at a time when both internal and external forces are attempting to erode the quality of public higher education. The IFO is working hard to protect our institutions, the students we serve, and the profession we enjoy.

Engaging faculty
At this critical time in our union’s history, an engaged faculty and our role in shared governance are essential. In order to maximize the effectiveness of our advocacy efforts, we have added a position that will engage more members in the important work we are doing. Alanna Galloway began her tenure as the Director of Organizing and Training with the IFO in July. She brings a wealth of experience and knowledge in labor organizing and training. I look forward to you being able to partner with her on initiatives to advance our shared values. We will share more in the coming days. If you’re interested in the efforts on your campus, please contact Alanna at Davenia Porter also joined the IFO staff this summer as the new administrative assistant. You will have the pleasure to meet Davenia if you visit our office in St. Paul. She will be an asset to our success.

IFO Commitment to equity and inclusion
It is imperative that faculty challenge systemic oppression by empowering marginalized members through innovative and intentional equity and inclusion initiatives. Faculty must be empowered to lead efforts to foster learning communities that respect the inherent worth of all students, faculty, and staff based on values of justice, inclusion, and equity. Recently, we have developed equity caucuses to support and organize faculty of color, women faculty, LGBTQ+ faculty, and faculty with disabilities. The caucuses are meant to mobilize the collective voices of our marginalized faculty to improve working conditions for all. In addition, we are developing an IFO Equity and Inclusion Strategic Plan that I will ask the Board to consider for adoption this fall. The strategic plan will guide the organization in the future as we strive for equity within our union to build solidarity and ensure that our collective voice is an inclusive voice. For more information about the IFO’s Equity Caucuses or equity and inclusion initiatives please contact IFO Equity Caucus Coordinator Kim Park Nelson at

Reimagining Minnesota State
A year ago, this fall, the MinnState Board of Trustees began a year-long initiative to reimagine higher education at the system level. The IFO advocated successfully to have a strong higher education perspective at the six forums and to include faculty, staff, and student input at the campus level. In addition, the IFO expressed an interest in partnering with the system office around issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. IFO Academic Affairs Coordinator, Becky Omdahl, also gathered input from faculty at all seven universities and presented a final report at the May Board of Trustees meeting. After considering the information gathered and assessing the value proposition the MinnState System provides the state of Minnesota, Chancellor Malhotra proposed one goal;

“By 2030, Minnesota State will eliminate the educational equity gaps at every Minnesota State college and university.”

Faculty can support this goal. We must help lead our campuses and communities to respond to the changing demographics of our State and our institutions. Our students’ success will depend on the work faculty do to break down barriers and create welcoming learning environments for everyone. For questions about this initiative and the IFO’s involvement please contact IFO Academic Affairs Coordinator Becky Omdahl at

Contract negotiations
This year is also a contract negotiation year. The 2019-2021 IFO/MinnState contract negotiations have begun. More information will be shared next week. Our team has already fought off attempts by the administration to: eliminate the “Duty Day” and require you to work more days, increase required teaching credits with no extra pay for some faculty, terminate coaching positions without notice, eliminate the prior consideration for fixed-term faculty applying for probationary positions, provide zero pay increase for adjunct and community faculty – and more. In order for your negotiating team to secure the best possible settlement, we need members to engage on their campus and make their voices heard.

2020 Delegate Assembly
We will be hosting the 2020 IFO Delegate Assembly on March 27-28, 2020 where we will set our negotiation priorities and organizational goals for the next two years. If you’re interested in representing your campus at the 2020 Delegate Assembly please contact your campus faculty association leadership.

IFO continues to defend the right to collectively bargain
As we notified you last summer, the IFO continues to defend our union in a lawsuit brought by a self-proclaimed anti-union professor. After filing the lawsuit, the professor immediately asked the court to prohibit the IFO from representing our bargaining unit members. The Federal District Court denied the request. The Supreme Court has declined to review this preliminary decision. The case has been sent back to the Minnesota District Court for further proceedings.

At each stage of the case, we have proven to the courts that the IFO strengthens the faculty’s democratic rights to associate together freely and to speak collectively on terms and conditions of employment and other issues of mutual concern. This lawsuit is part of a nationally coordinated strategy by powerful forces aiming to destroy collective bargaining. It is a direct attack on our shared values and collective voice. United, we are powerful advocates – and our nation-wide union solidarity threatens the anti-labor organizations behind these attacks. Our members know that a strong faculty union is vital to the success of our students and communities. In the face of these attacks, we stand united and will continue our mission of providing an extraordinary education that is accessible and affordable for all. We will continue to notify our members of any updates on this case. Please contact our legal team at heagle@ifo.orgif you have any questions.

Let me finish by simply saying, “thank you.” Thank you for all that you do for your colleagues as a member of the IFO, everything you do for your students, and everything you do to make Minnesota a great state to be a faculty member and a resident.

In Solidarity,

Brent Jeffers
IFO President