Frequently Asked Questions
How do I become a member?
Why become a member NOW (as opposed to later)?
What are the benefits of AFMSU membership?
How do unions work in a higher education context?
Who is eligible to become a member of AFMSU?
If I’m not eligible to join, will the union represent me? Will I pay dues?
What are dues used for?
What is AFMSU doing now?
Who are the AFMSU leaders?
Our power at the bargaining table is directly related to the strength of our membership. The greater our membership, the better the contracts we will be able to continue to negotiate.
In addition to increasing our power at the bargaining table, benefits include:
- Ability to participate in union elections (vote for leadership) and contract ratification votes(voting on the collective bargaining agreement).
- Ability to run for union office, serve as a department representative, and help guide the governance and activities of AFMSU.
- A host of special discounts and benefits, including low rates on auto and home insurance, top rates on money markets and CDs, free and discounted legal services, low interest rate loans, as well as supplemental life and health insurance. A description of these benefits can be found here.
Collective bargaining establishes faculty as legal equals with university administratorsion. It provides faculty the ability to collectively negotiate terms and conditions of their employment, such as compensation, retirement benefits, teaching load, family and sick leave, office/lab space and equipment, and job security. Having a contract secures faculty rights so that they cannot be unilaterally changed by the administration and can, if necessary, be enforced by a neutral third party through binding arbitration. In addition, AFMSU and MEA-MFT advocate for faculty and higher education issues with the State Legislature and the Board of Regents. The higher
education divisions, within the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, also host yearly professional issues conferences for faculty across the country.
- Access to MEA-MFT staff with experience in contract preparation and negotiation, and governance.
- Research assistance and budget analysis in contract bargaining.
- Enforcement of the negotiated contract through neutral binding grievance procedure.
- Legal representation for job-related actions, including dismissal and discipline actions.
- Legal representation to defend academic freedom.
- Advocacy on state and federal legislation and policy, e.g., State higher education appropriations.
- Political action activities to support higher education.
Most tenured, tenure-track, or adjunct faculty members with half time or greater appointments are currently eligible. Eligibility was determined as requested by MSU Administration and determined by the State of Montana, Board of Personnel Appeals, Unit Determination No. 16-2008. Currently excluded for membership are those appointed as Emeritus Faculty, Research Faculty, Professional Engineers/Engineers In Training, Extension Agents, Extension Specialists, Agricultural Experiment Station Faculty, Department Heads/Chairs, or other Administrators are excluded. If you are uncertain whether you are eligible (e.g., if you have a split appointment, or are an adjunct faculty/non tenure track whose appointment varies), please contact us at
No, if you do not fall into an eligible employment category in the bargaining unit, your employment continues as it has in the past, governed by the Faculty Handbook. You do not pay any dues or fees.
Dues cover costs related to promoting faculty interests, collective bargaining and enforcing our collective bargaining agreement. They pay for staff with the relevant expertise in negotiating and handling grievances, arbitration, and legal representation, as well as membership mailings, membership meeting space, and for local, state, and national membership. Also there is a cost sharing agreement between the provost’s office and AFMSU for a one course buy out fall and spring semester for the co-presidents of AFMSU (tenure track and non tenure track). No other officers are compensated.
Bargaining the first contract was a major hurdle, but we can’t just relax now. We continue to work to implement the contract and build membership as within a year we will be bargaining our second contract. Our power at the bargaining table will continue to depend on the number of faculty who become union members and participate in the bargaining process. Toward these ends we are:
* working with department representatives to sign up faculty for membership in each department.
* advocating for tenure-track faculty with grievances, such as those related to tenure and promotion.
* advocating for non-tenure track faculty with grievances, such as those related to job security and changes to benefits.
* planning how to have maximal impact on the legislature in 2013.
Separate officers represent tenure track faculty and non tenure track faculty and are elected by members.
Department representatives, both tenure track and non tenure track, are elected within departments. Department reps welcome new faculty and promote membership and membership benefits, transmit information, help conduct bargaining surveys, and serve as liaisons between the bargaining team, officers, and faculty in their department. If you would like to know who your department rep is or wish to get involved, please email us at:
Call or email the Helena MEA-MFT office 442-4250. Ask for Jolene Devine
(firstname.lastname@example.org) or Susan Wilkins (email@example.com) and explain that you want to be taken off the NEA (and/or AFT) mailing list.