Adjuncts at Washington U. Vote to Unionize

From St. Louis Public Radio:

Part-time faculty members at Washington University have voted to unionize in an effort to improve their salary, working conditions and stability of employment.

Ballots counted at the National Labor Relations Board Monday showed the proposal passed by a vote of 138-111, with 18 contested ballots that would not affect the outcome of the election. Just over 400 instructors at the university were eligible to vote, with a simple majority of those voting needed for passage.

With the vote, the adjunct faculty members will be represented by the Service Employees International Union Local 1. In a statement, the union called the outcome “a step forward to improve the working conditions of the increasing numbers of part-time and contingent faculty in higher education.”

Michael O’Bryan, who has taught English and writing as an adjunct at Washington U. for six years, said he looks forward to having a stronger voice in his working situation.

“This is a great day for faculty, students and the entire community of higher education in St. Louis and throughout the region,” he said in the statement released by the union.

“This victory is an important step toward improving the labor conditions of university faculty and, consequently, the learning experience of the students taught by those faculty. We look forward to enhancing Wash U's already exemplary record of service to its students and to the St. Louis community.”

Darcie Star, who teaches dance at the university, added:

“By uniting in solidarity to form our union we are part of building a positive future and creating sustainable change for those working in higher education. This victory gives a voice to improved conditions for both faculty and students, as well as offering a platform for communication of needs and desires of those who provide service to the future generations."

Read the full story here.