Part-time and full-time non-tenure track faculty at Northwestern have joined the Service Employees International Union, nearly one year after faculty members filed for a union election, according to a news release from the SEIU.
The union election was held last summer, but due to legal complications, the final valid ballots were not counted until May 12 this year, the release said. After confirming majority support for joining SEIU, the Chicago office of the National Labor Relations Board issued a certification of the election Friday, according to the release.
As a result of the election, the University will be “legally obligated” to negotiate the terms and conditions of employment for faculty members who are not eligible for tenure, the release said.
“Since our union election, we’ve continued to support and feel the excitement of the growing union movement in higher education,” Northwestern Italian lecturer Alessandra Visconti said in the release. “After the lengthy delay, Northwestern University contingent faculty are ready to work together to resolve issues concerning transparency, job security and wage equality. Northwestern faculty and their students deserve nothing less.”
Nearly half of NU faculty are not tenured and “are required to reapply for their jobs every few years in a lengthy and arduous reappointment process,” according to the release.
According to Northwestern’s SEIU faculty union petition, participation in the union will apply to all non-tenure track faculty on the Evanston campus. The only non-tenure track faculty excluded are those who teach at the Kellogg School of Management, the Feinberg School of Medicine, the Pritzker School of Law, the School of Professional Studies and Northwestern University in Qatar.
University spokesman Al Cubbage said in a statement that the University is “disappointed” in the action of the NLRB’s Chicago director “because it deprives all voices from being heard.” Cubbage said an appeal before the NLRB’s national board in Washington, D.C. aims to ensure that 25 ballots, which the union contested, be counted. The appeal has been pending since Jan. 19, he said.
“Those ballots very well could determine the outcome,” Cubbage said in the statement. “We will explore all available options for ensuring that those ballots are counted so that all voices are heard.”
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