The Huntington News

Letter to the editor: Let Northeastern full-time faculty hold a union election

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We respect the diversity of opinions raised by colleagues who shared concerns about unionization in an article published last week, “Some full time, non-tenure track faculty are against unionization.” The choice to form a union is one we should make carefully — but it should be made by the faculty themselves, not by the administration. The existence of differing views is precisely why a democratic process is so important.

As full-time, non-tenure track faculty, we are deeply invested in our departments, our scholarship and most of all, our students. It is because of this investment in our students that we continue to imagine how to improve our conditions as teachers. With that in mind, we applaud the spirit of recent efforts toward inclusion of non-tenure track voices through representation in the Faculty Senate and the “One Faculty” model.

Yet, we remain concerned that we are “One Faculty” in name only. Without the power to bargain as equals, that spirit is lost. There are many issues that we are interested in as non-tenure track faculty: transparency in evaluations and promotions, fair compensation and more secure contracts, as well as Northeastern’s role in the Boston community. Only with a union can we enshrine these protections and improvements in a legal contract which cannot be altered without our consent.

That is why, in November, we filed for our union election with strong support from faculty across campus. The administration responded through its lawyers by claiming we are “managers” — a shocking stance that breaks from legal precedent and ignores the existence of full-time non-tenure track faculty unions at Tufts, Boston University, Lesley and other universities across the country.

Despite letters and calls from tenured faculty, students, and community members urging a fair election — including a letter from Sen. Elizabeth Warren — Aoun refuses to drop the claim that we are managers and allow us to vote. In fact, he has not responded at all.

Northeastern must not become an outlier on the issue of faculty rights. Instead, it should join colleges and universities, locally and nationwide, in respecting faculty’s right to self determination. We call on Aoun to embody the spirit of “One Faculty” — the spirit of valuing faculty voice — and allow full-time non-tenure track faculty to vote.

 

On behalf of the Full-Time Faculty Union Organizing Committee,

Polly Attwood (CPS), Aaron Block (CSSH), Maria Brucato (CSSH), Brent Griffin (CPS), Michael Jaeggli (COE), Timothy Lannin (COE), Vasiliki Lykourinou (COS), Melissa Pearson (CSSH), Brandon Sichling (CAMD) and Sebastian Stockman (CSSH)

 

Correction: An earlier version of this story mistakenly stated that the university denied the union’s petition. The statement was removed.

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