Update: Administration not responding to LuteTimes questions

LuteTimes strives to cover every breaking news issue on the PLU campus with balanced in-depth reporting. We want all sides of an issue told. We hope to give all participants the opportunity to voice their opinions.

Two full-page advertisements were printed in the Mooring Mast two weeks ago. The ads were from contingent and tenured faculty in support of unionization. Dozens of professors, lecturers and assistant faculty gave their names in support.

LuteTimes immediately contacted PLU’s administrative team. The Provost office has been visited four times in the last two weeks and has received several emails asking for an interview or statement from Steven Starkovich, PLU’s Provost. Starkovich’s assistant informed LuteTimes staff that Starkovich was out with the flu. Fourteen days later and Provost Starkovich is reported to be still on sick leave. We are sincerely sorry to hear that the provost is ill. But we wish there was someone else who could answer our questions.

LuteTimes has emailed President Krise. We continue to wait for a response from his office as well.

Sheri Tonn, Vice President for finance and operations was also contacted. Her office asked that all questions be referred to the Provost office. When asked if she knew the contingent faculty was running advertisements in the Mast, Tonn stated that she “wasn’t aware of the letters in the Mast before [she] read them.”

In the latest addition of the Mast, another full-page advertisement gives students the opportunity to show support of contingent faculty.

The latest breaking news is that former PLU president Loren Anderson will be coming to PLU next week to support the university’s decision to fight the prospect of unionization. Anderson’s support is met with complaints from many in the PLU community. During his last year here, Anderson was making $1.3 million a year according to a story in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Apparently, PLU’s faculty salaries were available to that publication.

The news of Anderson’s visit also came with the announcement that the university has hired a team of lawyers as they lobby against unionization.

LuteTimes continues to make an effort to cover all sides of this ongoing story. Many students and faculty are coming forward with information and opinions. With the exception of the sentence from Vice President Tonn, the administration has yet to give student media any official statement or response regarding the situation at hand.

4/30 UPDATE: Provost Starkovich sent an email to all PLU faculty Monday, April 29. In the email he addressed contingent faculty survey results, the National Labor Relations Board hearing and “the months ahead.”

Starkovich wrote that “three federal court decision raise very serious doubts as to whether the NLRB has jurisdiction over PLU” due to the university’s religious affiliation.

According to Starkovich’s email, this question of jurisdiction must “be settled before the petition goes forward.”

Starkovich also voiced concerns about letting the entire contingent faculty be a part of PLU’s vote. Starkovich and the university are arguing with a “one-size-does-not-fit-all” approach. Because of PLU’s “great diversity,” they do not advise that all contingent faculty be given the vote.

The news regarding the unionization has now been picked up by the Tacoma News Tribune and KPLU (where you can actually hear Starkovich’s voice).

Categories: Academics, Campus, Other, Parkland, Politics

Tags: , , , , , ,

2 replies

  1. This is a sad state of affairs, to be honest. Whilst one might appreciate that administration is willing to stonewall faculty (no matter how wrong that would be) I had hoped they would be honest to you, our students. As I have said before: Don’t give up! Keep asking those difficult questions.

    • It is indeed dismaying that the administration will not respond. Perhaps they would argue that because the legal process is still unfolding they feel it best not to comment, but even saying _that_ would be preferable to stonewalling.

      I continue to believe that PLU is a place that can do the right thing. And the right thing now is for the administration to back off (and call off their attorneys) and allow our contingent colleagues to determine for themselves, by election, whether they wish to be represented by a union.

      Kudos to the dogged student journalists who are following this important story.

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