Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Adjuncts vote to join SEIU Local 500 union

AU adjunct faculty voted to unionize with a vote of 379-284 on Feb. 16.

A total of 664 adjuncts cast their votes out of the 1,672 faculty members eligible to participate in the election, according to a University-wide memo Provost Scott Bass sent Feb. 16.

The University will not challenge the election and will move on to bargaining with the union according to Bass.

“We look forward to beginning the collective bargaining process and engaging in a constructive dialogue with the union regarding issues related to adjunct faculty employment,” he said in the memo.

There is no set date for when negotiations between the University and SEIU Local 500 will begin, according to Anne McLeer, the director of research and strategic planning at the Local 500 of SEIU.

McLeer said the union will first conduct a focus group and send a survey to adjuncts to decide which issues to highlight in the collective bargaining. Once the issues are decided, a team of adjuncts, McLeer and SEIU Local 500 Executive Director David Rodich will begin negotiations with AU.

McLeer said she estimates the negotiations will take six months, similar to the negotiations between George Washington University and their adjuncts.

“It takes as long as it takes,” she said. “They’re building it from scratch, so it’ll take a while.”

University Communications and Marketing refused to comment on this story. Faculty Senate Chair Jim Gerard did not respond to requests for comment.

School of Communication adjunct professor Alison Schafer said she is more interested in the outcome of negotiations than unionization since the union will have little affect on her personal life.

“Adjuncts are in a weird situation,” she said. “We are definitely treated like second class people.”

However, Schafer said she was surprised by the low voter turnout.

“It amazes me how many people voted,” she said. “It shows a lot of people thought stakes were low.”

Students show support for union

Student Worker Alliance member and College of Arts and Sciences junior Ethan Miller said he was excited by the outcome of the Feb. 16 ballot count.

“The fact that the University is not challenging the election is probably because there was such a large majority in the votes and pressure from students,” Miller said.

Miller said he and others from the Student Worker Alliance showed their support of adjuncts unionizing by delivering letters to every dean and department head, passing out flyers, talking with students in the dorms and speaking in classes.

AU previously challenged the election for shuttle drivers to unionize in 2007, The Eagle previously reported. Operating engineers at AU attempted to form a union in 1996, but were dissuaded from doing so by the University, according to Miller.

“The University has a pretty bad track record, and I hope this is a change and a turn in the right direction,” he said.

Miller said he hopes to see adjuncts receive increases in salary, job security and benefits but not at the expense of students.

“[AU saying they might raise tuition] is a distracting thing the University tries to do,” he said. “There can be a way for [adjuncts’] pay to go up without tuition increasing too.”

SWA will hold an event to discuss the union and what happens next on Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. in the School of International Service Founders’ Room.

pjones@theagleonline.com


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