Service Employees International Union got two big wins this week, at Boston University and the University of Southern California. In Boston, full-time, non-tenure-track faculty members voted 135 to 36 (out of 275 eligible instructors) to form a union affiliated with SEIU; the union already represents 800 adjunct professors on campus.
In California, a hearing officer for the National Labor Relations Board ruled that an earlier, failed union election involving non-tenure-track faculty members in the Dornsife College of Arts and Letters must be held again, due to significant administrative interference. Hearing officer Yaneth Palencia found that “Provost [Michael] Quick engaged in conduct that was so aggravated as to create a general atmosphere of fear making a free election impossible,” such as by allegedly suggesting that joining a union would make faculty members ineligible for various forms of shared governance.
A spokesperson for Boston said the vote was an “unfortunate outcome, but we will negotiate in good faith once today's election results are officially certified.” Quick said via email on Thursday that the Dornsife election "was free and fair. The USC faculty knows I am a strong supporter of faculty governance and never threatened it. Further, our efforts to remain compliant with state employment law can not be interpreted as anything other than being required by law."