June 12, 2015
Reprinted with permission from the United Automobile Workers
New York, NY—With supermajority support, the union for nearly 200 Barnard College contingent faculty petitioned the National Labor Relations Board yesterday for a union election. In what organizers believe is the first campaign covering the entire contingent faculty at an Ivy League-affiliated college or university, an overwhelming majority of faculty across all contingent ranks and all academic divisions signed cards choosing Barnard Contingent Faculty-United Auto Workers Local 2110 to represent them in collective bargaining.
The BCF-UAW organizing committee notified the Barnard administration of supermajority support for the union two weeks ago, and asked that they respect the contingent faculty’s choice by remaining neutral and expediting the election process.
“We are disappointed that we have not heard back from the administration after two weeks, especially given the overwhelming support across campus, but are still hopeful they will do the right thing and remain neutral and refrain from litigating this issue,” said Siobhan Burke, a Barnard alumnus and Lecturer in the Dance Department. “However, we will not wait, and have decided to file the NLRB petition to keep our campaign moving ahead. We are excited to take this next step and join the national movement of contingent faculty organizing for a voice at our universities.”
Under the new NLRB rules, the next steps in the process could move very quickly. Organizers are preparing for hearings that could begin as early as next week to determine eligibility for the union and timing for a representation election, which the BCF-UAW organizing committee hopes to happen by mail this summer.
“UAW Local 2110 welcomes these workers into our progressive tradition of representing workers in New York City’s institutions of higher education,” said Maida Rosenstein, president of UAW Local 2110. “Contingent faculty make up a significant majority of the teaching force and are critical to providing Barnard’s undergraduate students a great liberal arts education.”
Contingent faculty members have organized unions across the U.S. in record numbers in recent years. In the early 2000s, adjunct faculty at New York University and at the New School formed unions with the UAW and bargained trailblazing contracts at those institutions. Contingent faculty have subsequently organized unions in Washington, DC, Los Angeles, Boston, Seattle, Chicago, St. Louis and numerous other parts of the country.
“Contingent faculty at Barnard College join a long tradition of progressive union organizing in Manhattan through UAW Local 2110,” Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said. “Given their critical role in maintaining Barnard as a leading undergraduate liberal arts college for women, I call on the administration to refrain from any efforts to delay or deny their right to choose collective bargaining or to influence their decision for or against unionization.”
“The UAW helped pioneer contingent faculty organizing at NYU and New School in the early 2000’s,” said Julie Kushner, director of UAW Region 9A, which includes New York City. “We are excited to work with workers like those at Barnard who deserve a seat at the table through collective bargaining and look forward to a constructive relationship with the administration moving forward.”
The UAW represents over 50,000 academic employees across the country, including support staff at Barnard. In addition, the UAW represents thousands of contingent and other faculty at NYU, New School, UMass Lowell, Goddard College and Technical Careers Institute; postdoctoral researchers at the University of California and University of Massachusetts; student research and teaching assistants at NYU, University of Connecticut, UMass, University of Washington, University of California and California State University; and support staff at Columbia University, Teachers College, Union Theological Seminary and Mercy College. The UAW also has pending cases before the NLRB regarding student workers at Columbia University and New School to restore the legal right to collective bargaining.