BOSTON — 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…
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:
“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.”
BOSTON – 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.”
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.