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“Let me take you back into history. The original universities, when they were created in the Middle Ages like the University of Bologna … the way these universities formed were faculty got together and hired administrators to administer for them,” Barry Bluestone, director of the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy and dean in the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, said. “I would say today, increasingly, universities, including Northeastern have become major large corporate enterprises basically run by administrators.”

 Since the filing of the petition, Northeastern has updated its website with “Part-time Faculty Information and FAQs.” Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Stephen W. Director has since posted details on the election dates and the university’s participation with NLRB’s process. The university has not explicitly stated its position on the issue, but Director posted in August 2013, that “Again, we encourage you to educate yourself before taking any action with respect to SEIU’s organizing activity, including signing a union authorization card.”

“You, our faculty, are the cornerstone of Northeastern’s unprecedented success,” Director wrote on the website in March. “This is why we believe it is so important that part-time faculty educate themselves about union representation before making a decision.”

 Even so, Bluestone, who joined the faculty union at University of Massachusetts Boston when he taught there before, said that faculty members are essentially now working for the administrators, leading to the faculty, especially the adjuncts, having less voice and less input on how the university is run and how they ought to be treated.

“The administration has made clear that they oppose unionization. They have held mandatory meetings for department chairs, and sent out many emails that contain this message,” Steven Vallas, professor and chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, said. “In fairness, the administration has not run a slash and burn campaign. They have kept things relatively civil, and this is important. But it’s clear where they stand.”

Shimer said that “the atmosphere of isolation at Northeastern University is dissipating, like a thick fog lifting.” However, he added that in the two weeks since the Committee started working with the NLRB, he has received four emails from college deans and the Provost’s office.

“These emails take the tone of father-knowing-best, which is troubling to many adjuncts,” Shimer said. “Moreover, the letters are addressed to each recipient by name, as if communicating one-on-one, and this to recipients who lack job security, especially at this time of the year. The resulting fear effect is magnified because, in the years prior to our unionization campaign, administrators rarely spoke to adjuncts about workplace conditions or anything else.”

As The News previously reported, the university has partnered with Jackson Lewis, a law firm that has been providing “How to Stay Union Free” seminars. According to Vallas, the law firm has held informational sessions with Northeastern’s chairs and program directors about unionization. Vallas said that he and many other chairs and directors have pointed out that unionization increases pay, job security and other benefits for adjuncts;

“I think this is something that all of us – especially students – should support,” Vallas said.