Opinions

The Unionization of Staff is Best for All

Augsburg University Staff Union Organizing Committee

A unionized staff is a benefit to us all, but especially to students. What could it look
like to effectively support students when staff are supported, resourced and
generally happy in their roles? Augsburg continues to struggle retaining BIPOC staff
and faculty. Allowing staff to unionize would increase attractability to hire and retain
staff of color. Allowing staff a seat at the table would empower them to collaborate
with administration about the wellbeing and success of students. Decisions are
being made about students, yet the people who are directly working with students
don’t have a say.

Staff unionizing would mean that we as a campus are actively working to dismantle
systems of higher education that continue to benefit from racism, transphobia,
homophobia, classism, ableism, elitism, xenophobia and more. To support the
Augsburg Staff Union means supporting the future and wellbeing of Augsburg,
students and employees for years to come. Recognizing the Augsburg Staff Union is
truly asking Augsburg to live out its mission by uplifting the communities that
support our institution.

One of the core reasons staff were drawn to Augbsurg was their intentional
commitment to equity and inclusion within local and global communities. LGBTQIA+
Student Services Director Maxwell Poessnecker explains the struggles this results
in, stating “Having the opportunity to work with queer and trans+ students whilst
knowing the importance of representation and visibility is core to my identity as a
student affairs practitioner. However, as a marginalized person hired to work with
underserved communities, I’m exhausted and so are my colleagues.”
While Augsburg boasts about its efforts to dismantle systems of injustice, the
treatment of staff continues to perpetuate the systems Augsburg claims to be
fighting against. As an entity largely made up of staff who are BIPOC, LGBTQIA+,
new professionals and come from single-income households, staff sit at the crux of
toxic power structures present at Augsburg and represent the student body more
so than any other entity on campus. This is a tactic that is often used to encourage
enrollment, but staff morale and resources are far from being a priority for the
Augsburg administration. That was made clear this past year with a large majority of
layoffs and furloughs directed at staff, not to mention the benefit reduction and
general staff turnover due to poor morale.

The opportunity for staff to unionize offers all staff rights in the workplace for the
very first time so that we can do our work to our fullest and best serve our students
and our community. This is central to achieving the Augsburg Staff Union mission of
protecting and empowering every staff member at Augsburg. As such, we have
created a list of values that we are fighting for. These values include but are not
limited to:

● Transparent pay structure that provides for fair and sustainable compensation
for all positions.
● Equitable and transparent hiring procedures that reflect the university’s
commitment to equity and inclusion.
● Clear and consistent procedures for ensuring accountability among
supervisors in regards to performance reviews and disciplinary actions.
● Clearly defined and consistently implemented policies that are applied
equally to all.
● Policies, practices and benefits that prioritize personalized employee
wellness, safety and mental health.
● Investment in practices that foster comprehensive personal and professional
growth.
● Preserving a democratic university culture that fosters a sense of community
in the workplace.
● Improving job security and rewarding years of service to the university.
● The proactive inclusion of employees in university-wide decisions that affect
us all.
● Respect for Augsburg as an ecosystem in which staff, faculty and students
are held as equal partners in shared governance.

The Augsburg Staff Union enshrines our shared values into everything that we do as
staff: inclusion and solidarity, transparency and accountability and a seat at the
table. Together, we turn toward collective bargaining in order to deliver on these
values, win rights at the workplace and preserve them.

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