Letter From Provost Wutoh Re: Faculty Vote on Union
A secret ballot election is scheduled for Nov. 29 and 30 to determine if representation by SEIU, Local 500 is necessary.
The University is not calling the election, but is required by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB); a federal agency that enforces the law that grants employees the right to be represented by a labor organization (usually a union) of their choice and to engage in, or refrain from engaging in union activity and other protected activities. The introduction of a union representing our non-tenure track full-time faculty may significantly alter the collegial relationship that we enjoy with our faculty, and may impede, rather than facilitate, the continuous progress that we are making to uplift and improve the University.
The introduction of a union would, in our view, present a barrier to effectively communicate with our faculty – a privilege that we appreciate and value, and by which we all benefit. Electing a union to be your representative means that the University generally may not deal directly with you concerning your wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment. Instead, the University will have to deal with the union as your representatives. Our experience has been that unions are usually less interested in negotiating on behalf of individuals based on their contributions, talents, and accomplishments, and more interested in negotiating on behalf of a group. Therefore, we encourage you to look into the SEIU Local 500 and see what it is really about.
You should obtain sufficient information to determine whether this union currently represents any other full-time faculty, whether it has a record of success in representing the constituencies it has been selected to serve that have interests and concerns similar to yours, and how much money it will cost you to be represented by the union. In doing so, ask yourself whether union representation at the University will be an investment that will advance your interests, or an additional monetary expense without commensurate benefit, which would lower your bi-weekly pay because you have to pay Union dues or core fees? These are essential questions, and I intend to share information with you that will faciliitate your due diligence.
It is my understanding, based on the University’s discussions with the NLRB, that only a minority of non-tenure track full-time faculty have signed “authorization cards” seeking this NLRB election. That suggests to me that many of you may not have been aware of Local 500’s organizing drive, or that a large number of our non-tenure track full-time faculty expressed no interest in being represented by this union.
Despite the Union’s apparent minority effort, it is extremely important that all eligible voters cast a ballot in the election. The reason for that is because the election outcome is determined by a majority of the votes actually cast, not a majority of the eligible voters. There are 129 eligible voters. However, if, for example, only 50 vote and 26 vote in favor of the union, all non-tenure track full-time faculty will be represented by the union, even if you do not all support that outcome, and you will all eventually be required to pay Union dues or core fees. Therefore, I urge all of you to become fully informed about this critical issue and to participate in the election on November 29 and 30 in the Blackburn University Center.
I have attached a series of answers to commonly asked questions designed to help you become fully informed about the election process. These will be supplemented as additional questions are raised.
If you have questions about the NLRB election process, please feel free to contact me or the University’s Associate General Counsel for Labor, Ms. Letitia Silas (202) 806-2656. Thank you for your continued service to the University and for your participation in the election.
Anthony K. Wutoh, PHD, RPH,
Provost and Chief Academic Officer