Dear Colleagues, Students and Friends,
The full-time and part-time faculty of Notre Dame de Namur University are organizing a union, and we ask for your support. We're asking the administration to voluntarily recognize our union; under federal law, the administration and the board of trustees can voluntarily recognize a union of the entire faculty. We believe that unionization is necessary if we hope to continue to provide our students a high-quality education.
Over the last decade, we've grown increasingly concerned about the deteriorating working conditions of faculty here. Although our students' tuition has increased 13% over the past five years, faculty salaries have stagnated and are now the lowest in the entire Bay Area. Many faculty experience a lack of support and transparency in the administration's dealings with us. We struggle to "create community among those with whom we work and with those we serve" when so many of us are contingent faculty. This year, around 75% of instructors work part time, teaching more than half of our courses. Part-time instructors often experience the cancellation of teaching appointments at the last minute and changes to their contracts after they have begun teaching. Their low pay scale, combined with a 3-class per semester limit on their teaching load, means many must teach at multiple institutions to afford the rent. The long commute between jobs saps energy from the classroom. Full-time faculty have witnessed a slow reduction of tenured faculty over the years and an increase in workload, despite the recent WASC Report's recommendation to reduce faculty workload.
The deterioration of faculty working conditions conflicts with NDNU's mission statement: "[The University] serves its students and the community by providing excellent professional and liberal arts programs." Many part-time faculty members have no office space on campus where they can meet individually with students, and they receive no compensation to attend department meetings. NDNU's current Strategic Plan erroneously claims that "NDNU supports student learning through professional development of faculty"—when, in fact, only a small portion of the 234 faculty who have taught here over the past nine months have received any release time or financial support to attend professional development events.
We ask the NDNU administration to voluntarily allow the entire NDNU faculty to form a union, because doing so is in line with the University's mission. The Catholic social teaching tradition is unambiguous about the dignity of the worker, which includes the inalienable right to form associations and bargain collectively. This commitment to labor has been reemphasized throughout the 20th and into the 21st century by every pope. The American Church has shown systematic support of labor rights through bishops’ statements, the personal witness of “labor priests”, and the activism of many women religious, including Sister Dorothy Stang.
We, the undersigned, support the right of the faculty at Notre Dame de Namur University to form a union. We ask that the University voluntarily recognize this union and not use student tuition funds or other college resources to oppose the unionization effort, and we pledge to speak out against any intimidation or retaliation that may be a result of faculty invoking their right to organize.