BU Adjunct Faculty to Receive Ballots, Begin to Vote for Unionization

From The Daily Free Press:

As part of an ongoing effort to better address concerns and treatment of part-time faculty, adjunct professors at Boston University will soon participate in an election to determine whether or not they will unionize.

The National Labor Relations Board, an independent federal agency, sent mail-in ballots to the part-time faculty members Tuesday, said Jason Stephany, a spokesman for the Service Employees International Union 509, which, according to its website, represents more than 17,000 human service workers and educators in Massachusetts.

Laurie LaPorte, an anthropology lecturer in the College of Arts and Sciences, said working with her fellow adjunct professors has been a daily effort that has grown in magnitude.

“I perhaps knew only one or two adjuncts before I started working on this campaign, and now I know upwards of 50 personally,” she said. “It’s very satisfying to be at this point where we can finally say to our supporters, ‘Your ballot is in the mail, you will receive it and we will take this first step towards achieving everything we have talked about achieving.’”

Stephany said completed ballots will be due Jan. 30, and the results of the vote will be released on Feb. 4.

Joining a union could help start dialogue about issues such as increased job security, access to benefits and more standardized pay for part-time faculty, LaPorte said.

“I realized there are a lot of concerns that aren’t being heard and a lot of needs that people have that haven’t been met,” she said. “So to have that opportunity to come together as a group … to talk about the changes we’d like to see made … I feel like the union is the most positive way to accept that process and to make those changes happen.”

If passed, adjunct faculty will join the national Adjunct Action campaign, organized by SEIU. The union includes several local universities such as Tufts University, Northeastern University and Lesley University, The Daily Free Press reported on Oct. 31.

Faculty members took the first steps to unionize in October by filing the necessary paperwork with the NLRB. The NLRB set the date for the January election on Nov. 12, the FreeP reported on Nov. 19.

A BU official declined to comment on the upcoming election and the potential effects of the vote.

Dan Hunter, a CAS lecturer in playwriting, said unionizing gives adjunct professors a real voice in the policies of the school.

“By giving the adjuncts a voice, we are going to help Boston University improve,” he said. “We are 41 percent of the faculty, and we have no say in curriculum, no say in the future of the university, no say really in our contracts, and now I think this will improve relationships.”

Read the full story here.