Part-time faculty at Northeastern will form union, aiding wider push

From The Boston Globe:

Part-time faculty at Northeastern University have voted to form a union, supporters announced Thursday — the biggest victory yet for area adjunct professors demanding better pay, benefits, and working conditions.

The 961 Northeastern adjuncts became the third and largest group of part-time faculty locally to organize since the Service Employees International Union launched a national campaign in 2012. Part-time faculty at Tufts and Lesley universities previously voted to unionize.

The push has broad implications for the local universities, economic engines for the region that have come to depend on the low cost and flexibility of adjunct faculty as tenure-track positions become scarcer.

Adjunct faculty at Northeastern, where 52 percent of faculty are part time, praised the vote on Thursday, saying they hoped it addresses inequities on the campus.

In addition to lower pay, part timers almost always have a higher course load than full-time professors, said Cal Ramsdell, who teaches business and English as a second language at Northeastern.

She said she hopes the vote will inspire adjuncts elsewhere to organize.

“I think this adds to the momentum,” she said. “It’s proven to be a powerful movement so far.”

Stephen W. Director, Northeastern’s provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, said the university will “bargain in good faith.”

“Whatever your views are on the question of union representation of part-time faculty, we all respect the decision that was made by those who were eligible to vote,” Director wrote in an e-mail Thursday to faculty, staff, and fellow administrators. “All faculty members teaching at Northeastern are vital contributors to the university’s success.”

Out of 961 Northeastern adjuncts eligible to vote, 323 voted to join the Adjunct Action union, while 286 voted against joining, according to the SEIU. Union officials said the ballots were counted by the National Labor Relations Board on Thursday after a multiweek mail-in vote.

Supporters of the union effort have been emboldened by the growing ranks of adjunct faculty nationwide.

Read the full story here.