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Morehead Survey Results by Dave Kallgren

Friday, May 02, 2014 12:50 PM | Allie Maloney
The Morehead Survey results are out and have been sent around by e-mail; they are also available on Rendezvous under HR/surveys.

The NIA encouraged everyone to participate in the survey. Typically it identifies the same concerns we've been talking about, but since it's "scientific" and costs money it validates what we've been saying. For example, this time it shows that staff satisfaction with comp has improved a bit since last time (when it was the lowest ever recorded by Morehead), but lo and behold, it is still a significant concern.

Given all that I was a bit taken aback to find this recommendation at the end of the report: "Consider the role of the NIA as full staff representation, given the low membership and lack of representation for in-town and WMI staff."

My initial reaction was that despite our efforts we were unable to find an NIA representative to participate in the review committee, so this is what happens. On reflection though, it's all true. The NIA has always been a faculty organization; we have never presented ourselves as an all-employee union, and only current faculty are able to vote. Our paid membership numbers are low and even current WMI faculty are only eligible for Associate membership.

Much of this will be addressed at our upcoming annual meeting (7pm monday in the Noble if you've missed the posters) and during the Summit. I have been confident that we do represent the vast majority of faculty, but we have done a poor job collecting dues and pushing the membership issue. That is changing, especially now that we can automate much of the process. A topic for the meeting will be whether we should change our constitution to open eligibility to all NOLS faculty including WMI and to open up the Associate Member position.

So far I do not anticipate that the NIA will convert to an all employee union, but these decisions are made by our voting members so that too is possible. While it's true that our membership is faculty, it has been clear that in-town pay scales below the Branch Director level are a serious concern for our members, and so we have been pushing that to the admin and Trustees, and this has not been unnoticed. During our efforts to get comp addressed in the previous strategic plan an awful lot of flamingoes appeared on desks in the office, and the resulting comp increase was across the board.

I think we do a good job of representing all staff under the circumstances. Our meeting is open to the entire NOLS community and we hope to get comments and suggestions from non-members on how we could do better. With all that said, though, I personally would welcome the formation of an all employee union to fight for better wages if that's what's desired. I think the important role of the NIA is to represent the faculty viewpoint on curriculum, education, and instructor career/lifestyle issues to the administration and Trustees, and to facilitate communication in general among different communities of the school. That would not change. The comp piece has certainly been a concern, so it has been an agenda item for us and we've had some success so I guess some people think that's all we do. It's not my favorite topic, but somebody has to do it. We are open to feedback from the NOLS community.

It has been pointed out to me that my post is a little confusing. The Morehead Survey itself did not ask any questions about the NIA, and they do not make recommendations. The survey identifies areas of strength and concern, and then a staff committee goes over the results and they make recommendations. In this case the committee was divided into two groups, intown and field staff, and the recommendation to reevaluate the role of the NIA came from the field staff group.

I apologize for any confusion, but the bottom line is that the recommendation raises reasonable questions and we ought to respond. We are eager to hear more about this from our members and also directly from intown staff.
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