Saint Mary's College and Dominican University untenured profs vote to unionize

From Contra Costa Times:

MORAGA -- Lecturers and adjunct professors at two Bay Area colleges -- Saint Mary's College in Moraga and Dominican University in San Rafael -- have joined a nationwide movement seeking better pay and greater job stability.

The lecturers at both colleges voted late last year to form unions, becoming the fourth and fifth private colleges in the Bay Area to do so in 2014.

Unionizing the adjunct faculty at Dominican is a "path to fairer and more just terms of employment," said Lise Stampfli Torme, an adjunct instructor of communications at Dominican University, in a prepared statement. Part-time and temporary professors now make up the majority of the faculty at many colleges and universities, and they are paid far less than their tenure-track colleagues, sometimes without health benefits.

But as their ranks have grown, so have campaigns to improve pay and working conditions. Also called contingent faculty, the adjuncts and lecturers at Mills College and California College of the Arts -- both in Oakland -- and the San Francisco Art Institute also voted to unionize last year. The colleges are in different stages of contract negotiations, according to the Service Employees International Union Local 1021.

 

The new union at Saint Mary's expects to start bargaining in February, said Jack Rasmus, a politics and economics lecturer who took part in the organizing campaign. But first, he said, the faculty will elect a bargaining committee, which will survey professors to determine what they want.

"We will be very democratic about this," he said.

To its credit, Rasmus said, the college administration did not openly oppose the campaign or discourage participation. "They should be commended for that," he said.

Saint Mary's College President James A. Donahue was not available for an interview, but he thanked the contingent faculty for their participation and "respectful dialogue" in a statement to the campus.

"As a result of the election, the College will honor this decision by bargaining in good faith with representatives from our contingent faculty and the SEIU about their terms of employment," he said.

SEIU will represent roughly 400 adjuncts at Saint Mary's and 300 at Dominican University. It represents more than 21,000 adjunct faculty members nationwide.

Read the story online here.