July 22, 2015
By Stephanie West
New York, NY—Barnard College has signed an agreement with BCF-UAW Local 2110 allowing most non-tenure-track faculty to vote on whether to unionize in a mail ballot this September. The agreement followed a campaign in which a majority of contingent faculty signed BCF-UAW union cards and the union filed with the NLRB. Originally Barnard had contested the right of full and part-time faculty to be in the union together.
“This is a positive step forward for faculty,” said Siobhan Burke, adjunct lecturer in the Dance Department and a Barnard alumna. “A union will give us a voice in our employment conditions. By lessening the precariousness of our economic situation as employees, it will allow us to stay focused on our role as educators.”
The agreement came late last Thursday July 16th, the last day of hearings in front of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to determine an appropriate unit of employees after BCF-UAW petitioned for union certification last month. The agreed-upon unit, contained in a NLRB stipulation, includes approximately 200 adjunct faculty, 31 full-time term professors, lab associates and a small number of other titles.
In a statement to the campus community about the agreement, Barnard President Debora Spar said Barnard’s administration “fully supports the right of these contingent faculty to make a decision for themselves and without interference,” pledges “to remain neutral throughout the voting process,” and encourages everyone in the Barnard community who is not in the faculty group encompassed by the Agreement to also remain neutral by refraining from campaigning for or against the Union.
“We have been talking about a union for over a year and are gratified that we will now have the opportunity to vote for it in a binding election,” said Linn Cary Mehta, adjunct lecturer in the English Department.
The UAW represents more than 50,000 higher education workers nationwide, including contingent faculty at New York University, The New School, Technical Careers Institute, Goddard College and UMass Lowell. UAW Local 2110 represents support staff at Barnard, Columbia University, Teachers College, and Mercy College as well as NYU graduate assistants.
“We commend the College for reaching this election agreement with us rather than engaging in unnecessary conflict." said Julie Kushner, Director of UAW Region 9A, which includes New York City, New England and Puerto Rico. “We are encouraged by the growing number of employers who have been working out neutrality agreements such as this one. All workers deserve the right to choose unionization without influence from their employers.”