In Near-Unanimous Vote, Adjunct Faculty Ratify First Union Contract at Boston University

Alongside faculty victories at Tufts, Lesley and Northeastern, major contract gains at BU set national precedent in compensation, job security and campus inclusion


BU_Feature580pBOSTON — In a near-unanimous vote, participating adjunct faculty at Boston University have ratified their first union contract — a three-year agreement that makes significant progress in job and income stability, professional development, and the faculty role in university decisions. The vote caps off a 15-month effort by more than 800 contingent educators at BU, who voted to join Faculty Forward — a project of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 509 — in a landslide election in February 2015.

The contract ratification vote marks the latest milestone in the growing faculty union movement, with nearly 4,000 Boston-area educators now joined in a shared effort to improve their profession and the overall quality of higher education through unionization. In addition to achievements in the BU contract, adjunct and part-time faculty in “America’s College Town” have racked up an impressive series of victories in recent years, netting major gains around compensation and working conditions at Tufts, Lesley and Northeastern. Contract negotiations among full-time faculty on the BU, Tufts and Lesley campuses are ongoing.

Among the major gains in the three-year Boston University contract:  Continue Reading…

Adjunct Faculty Reach Tentative Contract Settlement at Boston University

Amid escalating campus protests, university administrators agree to improve wages, reduce classroom instability for more than 800 instructors

BOSTON, MA – Adjunct faculty at Boston University reached a contract settlement early this morning with campus administrators – a three-year agreement that makes significant progress in compensation course stability, professional development and the faculty role in decisions that affect their work. Facing escalating protests among students and alumni, administrators came back to the table this week for a series of end-of-semester negotiation sessions. The resulting settlement is subject to a ratification vote by affected part-time faculty.

Among the major gains in the three-year tentative agreement:

  • Improved Pay that Values Teaching: Minimum rates paid to adjunct faculty will increase considerably over the next three years. All faculty will see improvements in per-course pay – varied by department and college – including significant raises for the lowest-paid instructors.
  • Improved Course Stability: For the first time, adjunct faculty will be compensated for courses cancelled on short notice before a semester begins. Boston University has also committed to promoting greater predictability with longer appointments – and improved consistency in scheduling for those who teach courses over several years.
  • Professional Development Fund: Boston University adjunct faculty will have access to funding to support research, scholarship, civic engagement, and professional and artistic practice that contribute to the learning experience on campus.
  • Inclusion in the BU Community: Adjunct faculty will have an elevated voice in decisions that impact their teaching and their students – including a formal process to deal with workplace conflicts and violations.

“Our effort began with a simple but clear demand: Boston University should value teaching,” said Laurie LaPorte, a lecturer in Anthropology at the College of Arts & Sciences. “Corporatization in higher education is a growing concern here in Boston and across the country. With the support of our campus community, we’ve secured an agreement that begins to return the focus to what matters most – what happens in the classroom.”

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Full-Time and Salaried Faculty Vote ‘Union Yes’ by 4-to-1 Margin

Non-tenure-track educators join 3,500 Boston-area colleagues in FacultyForward/SEIU 

BU Full-Time Faculty Victory 4616_580pBOSTON – Full-time and salaried faculty at Boston University voted “Union Yes” by a 4-to-1 margin today, casting their ballots to join Faculty Forward – a division of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 509. The vote marks the tenth straight union victory for Boston-area faculty, with more than 3,500 educators now joined in a shared effort to improve their profession and the overall quality of higher education through unionization.

“This is tremendous day for faculty, our students and the entire Boston University community,” said Bill Marx, a Senior Lecturer in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Writing Program. “Today’s vote gives full-time and salaried lecturers and instructors the proactive voice we need to improve the teaching and learning conditions on campus.”

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Bargaining Update – 2.1.16

BU Contract  Bargaining: Your Participation will Make A Difference!

Across greater Boston, part-time and adjunct faculty have won major gains in recent contract settlements. From significant wage increases to landmark improvements in course stability and job security, our union has helped to bring the focus back to teaching and learning.

The following testimonials describe how our colleagues established a strong faculty voice on their respective campuses — and how we can do the same at Boston University.

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Bargaining Update – 11.13.15

Moving Past Contingency

Dear Colleague,

Part-time faculty at BU fill an important educational need for the university and our students. However, we are often viewed by the University as disposable and cheap academic labor to reduce the cost of teaching. The proposals we gave to the administration at negotiations on November 5th affirm that we are critical to the University’s educational goals. We are not disposable. We are essential to the students and the University.

Click here to read our full Job Security proposal. In short, we have proposed:

  • Except in certain circumstances (e.g., covering for a sabbatical or leave of absence), part-time faculty are given a minimum one-year appointment with a minimum guarantee of 1 course per academic year.
  • After 3 years at BU, the minimum appointment increases to a 3-year appointment
  • Part-time faculty who taught 3 courses per academic year for 3 years or 9 courses in the previous three year period would be offered a salaried half-time position with course guarantees
  • There are limited reasons for the non-reappointment of part-time faculty such as changes in curriculum, decrease in enrollment, or poor work performance (not reliant solely on student evaluations)
  • Reasonable advance notice of course assignments
  • Good faith consideration for teaching the same courses taught in the previous three years (essentially ownership of courses)
  • Reasonable criteria for the assignment of different or new courses

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Bargaining Update – 10.8.15

We’ve been asking for 8 months, how much longer do we have to wait?

Dear Colleague,

The faculty bargaining committee is considering pressing a National Labor Relations Board complaint against Boston University for failing to bargain in good faith. Over eight months, they’ve provided little of the data we need to make reasonable bargaining proposals. We have a right to that data under labor law.

For example, while they measure part-time faculty as a percentage of a full-time faculty member for benefit eligibility and other purposes, they can’t tell us the definition of full-time (in other words, if someone is considered 50%, then 50% of what?). We have a right to this information and cannot make detailed proposals at the bargaining table without it. They’ve had eight months to define it. They haven’t done it.

Continue Reading…

Bargaining Update – 9.24.15

BU’s ‘Guiding Principles’ and Our Bargaining Goals

Dear Colleague,

At our second negotiation session, the BU administration presented its guiding principles in how it approaches part-time faculty — both in current practice and in the negotiations. Essentially, the administration responded to our presentation articulating the goals and underlying interests of part-time faculty. Click here to view our presentation.

The BU administration’s ‘guiding principles’ can be summarized as follows: 

  • Part-time faculty are a valuable supplement to the full-time faculty. Part-time faculty fill academic niches and bring practitioners to the classroom.
  • Full-time faculty are the core of BU’s academic community with an integrated mission of scholarly work, teaching, and professional service. Full-time faculty best serve this mission.
  • A merit-based system is a core principle to ensure the best instructor in each classroom.
  • Balancing resources across multiple sectors and constituencies while determining which needs are most compelling.

Continue Reading…

Bargaining Update – 9.10.15

Our Presentation of Faculty Priorities

Dear Colleague,

After waiting seven months for Boston University administrators, we finally had our first bargaining session with representatives of the administration last Thursday. Our fellow adjuncts made a clear presentation of our values and interests as embraced by the clear majority of adjuncts. As we stated in our session, our goal is to enhance the educational experience of our students, maximize our potential as teachers and mentors, and improve the overall quality of Boston University.

Click here to view our bargaining team’s presentation to the administration.

Adjuncts taught 1,836 classes with 35,500 students in FY 2015.   Adjuncts are integral to BU’s success, and represent a critical constituency in the BU community. Therefore, we believe that the bargaining sessions should remain collegial, and be conducted with mutual respect.

Unfortunately, our approach was not reciprocated. From the beginning, University representatives often presented an adversarial tone, seeking to control the bargaining sessions. They seemed to deny that adjuncts should even be considered members of the faculty and often defended the current treatment of adjuncts. They consistently spoke of maintaining management rights but they did not discuss how the University values teaching and student learning.

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Bargaining Update – 3.20.15

We Need Your Voice — and Your Presence!

Dear Colleague,

In February, we won our union election, and with that, we made a decision to unite BU adjunct voices and advocate for ourselves and for our university.

To begin the conversation about our approach to collective bargaining, how the process should work, and what our goals will be, we need your voice and we need your presence.

Whether you voted yes, no, or abstained in the election, your input and opinions remain vital. As colleagues, we are asking for your thoughts on making BU a better place to teach and learn so we can make our collective voice stronger and more informed.

Continue Reading…

Bargaining Update – 2.17.15

Join Us and Make Your Voice Heard!


Dear Colleague,

BU OC Victory2_rsEarlier this month, by a 2-to-1 margin, we decided to form our union with Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and move forward to improve Boston University.

Adjunct professors have always had a stake in the University — we are 41% of the faculty,
after all — and our working conditions are student learning conditions. And now we have won a powerful voice: a real seat at the table. With our new union, we can look forward to positive and fruitful discussions about the future of BU.

Soon, you will receive a bargaining survey by e-mail so that you can share your input and opinions on contract priorities moving forward. We are also hosting a series of meetings to welcome everyone and detail our steps forward (please see the full list on the reverse side of this letter). You may also receive a phone call or a classroom visit to seek your ideas.

Continue Reading…