The Professional Instructors Organization began in 2008 when a number of part-time instructors began meeting together to discuss forming a union. We found many issues in common, such as low pay, no benefits, no seniority or job security, and generally little recognition. After sharing our issues with each other for a couple weeks, we decided that forming a union would offer the best solution. We decided to call ourselves the Professional Instructors Organization, and to affiliate with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and AFT-Michigan, which have a good reputation for organizing part-time instructors around the country.
We spent the summer and fall of 2008 and part of the winter of 2009 getting petition signatures from the 400-plus instructors at WMU. Finding out who all the instructors were wasn’t easy, nor was contacting them all. But with great persistence, and hundreds of home visits, phone calls, and e-mails, we got enough signatures to petition the State of Michigan to hold an election recognizing the PIO as the legal bargaining agent for part-time instructors at WMU. The election was held in June, 2009, and the instructors of WMU overwhelmingly approved the PIO.
We began negotiating our first contract with WMU in September 2009. The bargaining team spent countless hours shaping and revising contract articles to present to WMU. It was long, arduous work both in our own conference room and sitting across the table from the WMU bargaining team, but we managed to approve the contract by April, 2010. The contract was ratified both by the PIO membership and by the WMU Board of Trustees.
We encourage you to get involved with the PIO. After all, YOU ARE THE PIO.