Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Not So Fast

Inside Higher Ed
July 23rd, 2014


The Service Employee International Union’s adjunct organizing drive seemed for a time to be on cruise control, with “yes” votes for unions at more than a dozen campuses from Washington to Los Angeles since 2012. SEIU’s Adjunct Action campaign did hit a speed bump at one institution outside Boston – Bentley University – but the union defeat there last year was by a narrow margin, and many onlookers chalked it up to Bentley’s unique business focus. The campaign quickly returned to speed in that city, with successful union drives at Lesley and Northeastern Universities (in addition to Tufts University), and others across the country.
Then the campaign hit the Twin Cities. Adjuncts at Hamline University in June overwhelmingly voted to form a union, but elsewhere there have been two major roadblocks: a canceled vote at St. Paul's Macalester College last month amid calls by many adjuncts to slow down, and a decisive defeat just this week at the University of St. Thomas, in Minneapolis.
Accounts from adjunct professors on both sides of the vote at both institutions detail persuasive outreach from the colleges’ administrations – neither of which formally challenged their adjuncts’ legal right to form a union – and a failure on the part of SEIU to quickly convince adjuncts that unionization was their best chance at gaining better working conditions.

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