Student tuition funds part of the legal counsel AU hired to contest the potential adjunct union, according to University officials. However, other revenue sources are also footing the bill because the University combines revenue from various sources and redistributes the money for expenditure.
“AU is a tuition dependent institution, with approximately 94 percent of revenue derived from student sources,” Douglas Kudravetz, the associate vice president of finance and assistant treasurer, said in an email.
AU’s revenue budget is split into five sections with tuition and fees compiling 80 percent of the budget. Residence halls and Auxiliary Services, which includes the Eagle’s Nest, Bon Appétit and the Campus Bookstore, each make up 7 percent of the of the University’s income, together totaling 14 percent.
Student tuition will not be affected by the legal counsel and will continue to increase 3.8 percent as projected in the 2012-2013 budget, according to Kudravetz.
“Looking ahead to FY 2013 and the second year of our two-year budget, there are some areas of uncertainty, largely in a few categories of revenue; but we do not anticipate these will require us to change revenue or expenditure budgets for the next fiscal year,” President Neil Kerwin said in a Jan. 23 memo.
The money used to pay for this legal representation will be filed under the General Counsel’s office in the “Supplies and Other” section of the budget with other service contracts. “Supplies and Other” makes up 29 percent of AU’s expenditures.
“The General Counsel’s office will make adjustments to its budgeted allocation to accommodate the project [legal counsel],” Kudravetz said in an email. “It does not need to seek funds from other areas of the budget for this project.”
AU and the Service Employee International Union Local 500 are both mandated by law to have legal representation until both parties are satisfied with an outcome of negotiations.
AU violated federal labor law in ’07
AU shuttle drivers are the most recent campus group to unionize. They voted to join the Teamster Local 922 union in 2007.
That year, the National Labor Relations Board, which mediates between employers and workers who want to unionize, said the University violated federal labor law and ordered AU to recognize and bargain with the union.
The board also ordered AU to post copies of a notice declaring that federal law permits joining or forming a union and that AU will not refuse to bargain with the shuttle drivers union.
The University said it refused to bargain because it objected to the validity of the election. AU was then required to bargain with the union by law of the NLRB, according to the Sept. 25 order.
Not yet known if union will increase tuition
It is too early for AU to determine if or how the union will affect the University budget, said Camille Lepre, assistant vice president for University Communications.
The University had already determined in February 2011 that tuition will increase 3.8 percent for fall 2012.
“We do not anticipate any change to that [increase],” Kudravetz said. “Dr. Kerwin’s Campus Update memo on January 23rd indicated that the current budget year is on track to be balanced and no adjustments are anticipated for FY13 [Fiscal Year 13], which was approved by the Board one year ago.”
The Board of Trustees approves tuition increases every other February for the next two fiscal years. In February 2011, the board approved the 3.8 percent tuition increase for fall 2011 and fall 2012, The Eagle previously reported.
The shuttle drivers unionized in summer 2007, after the Board had already approved a 6 percent tuition increase for fall 2007 and fall 2008.
Tuition increased 5 percent in fall 2010 and fall 2011.
College of Arts and Sciences Adjunct Professor Erik Cooke said he would rethink his decision to support a union if it raised student tuition.
“If they did raise tuition [because of an adjunct union], I’d have to think hard on it,” he said.
Union reps reach out to adjuncts
SEIU Local 500 representatives have been contacting adjunct faculty to encourage them vote.
Representatives try to catch the adjunct faculty members whenever they can, including at their homes, recognizing that adjunct professors often have busy schedules.
“With a university campaign, we usually try to reach adjuncts on campus and occasionally if we have a home address, we do home visits,” SEIU Local 500 coordinator Anne McLeer said. “It’s not usually necessary though.”
McLeer said she approached George Washington University adjunct faculty members at their homes when she was an adjunct for the university. GWU adjunct faculty unionized in 2008.
“I’ve always had positive reactions,” she said.
McLeer said she has not heard any complaints of union representatives bothering AU adjuncts at their home.
CAS adjunct professor Cooke said he did not know of anyone who was approached at his or her house by a union representative. He said it is in the best interest of the union to approach adjuncts favorably.
“They’re not going to win us over if they’re badgering,” Cooke said.
CAS Adjunct Professor Mark Plane compared union representatives visiting adjunct houses to canvassing organizations such as Jehovah’s Witnesses and political campaign canvassers.
“If you don’t want someone at your door, just tell them they’re not welcome,” he said.
Plane said he has enjoyed all his encounters with union representatives.
“They have all been exceedingly polite,” he said. “As long as they are civil and adhering to any and all laws, it’s exceedingly important to keep talking.”
Plane said an adjunct who is also pursuing a doctorate degree told Plane he could not talk to him about the union vote because he was afraid for his career. Ph.D. students who are also adjuncts cannot vote in the election.
However, Cooke said he appreciates the University’s stance in this issue.
“I’m gratified the University made their opinions known and how respectful they’ve been,” Cooke said. “I’ve felt no pressure.”
A previous version of this story said residence halls and Auxiliary Services make up 7 percent of AU’s income; they each make up 7 percent and together make up 14 percent. The story also implied that Kerwin’s Jan. 23 memo responded to the creation of an adjunct union, but he was referring to revenue uncertainty. The story also said the union will not impact 2012-2013 tuition, but, while unlikely, unionization may impact fall tuition.