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EDITORIAL: University should support unionization process

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EDITORIAL: University should support unionization process

Unionization would provide support for non-tenure-track faculty.

Unionization would provide support for non-tenure-track faculty.

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

Unionization would provide support for non-tenure-track faculty.

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

Unionization would provide support for non-tenure-track faculty.

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Service Employees International Union Local 1 employees have recently been approaching non-tenure-track faculty members seeking signatures for authorization cards. By signing, faculty members show their support for unionization at Marquette. The university sent an email to its faculty members March 28, urging them to consider not engaging with SEIU.

However, allowing faculty to unionize provides them with protections that are not provided by the university. While the acting provost Kimo Ah Yun agreed to remain neutral in the matter at the rally, Marquette should take a step further. Marquette should accept unionization at the university in order to protect its non-tenure-track faculty members.

This union would allow the non-tenure-track faculty to demand adequate compensation and benefits as a unified collective, rather than as individuals who can be replaced by less vocal workers willing to accept the less-than-ideal current working conditions. Many times, workers in these positions are financially vulnerable and are hesitant to speak out in fear of jeopardizing their positions.

Currently, many adjunct professors at Marquette make extremely low wages. In addition, graduate student employees do not receive health insurance. Full-time faculty are given health, dental and vision insurance. If Marquette posits itself as an example of Catholic values and morality, this blatant mistreatment of some of the university’s most vulnerable employees is a situation that cannot continue. This ongoing push from non-tenure-track faculty to unionize is a clear path to rectify this on-campus injustice.

Non-tenure-track faculty make about $3,000 per course or $13,000 per year, according to information provided by non-tenure-track faculty member Samuel Harshner. One of the main issues with this situation is the lack of job security. Because their salaries have not kept up with inflation, it makes it hard for these individuals to plan their finances from year to year. Economic stability is a guarantee that the university can and should provide to all those it employs. A strong union would empower the staff at Marquette to not only self-moderate, but to use their collective strength to guarantee fair compensation and benefits for non-tenure-track faculty.

Because the compensation for non-tenure-track faculty is lower than their tenured counterparts, they are sometimes forced to work additional jobs in order to make ends meet. This not only adds to their already busy schedules, but could also impact the quality of education they can provide to students. As a prestigious academic institution, Marquette must treat the labor of its employees with the proper degree of respect it deserves. Without the ability to organize and collectively bargain as a strong union, the non-tenure-track faculty will continue to be vulnerable.

Marquette has bragged about its world-class faculty. If it believes this is the caliber of the faculty on campus, then it needs to compensate them accordingly. In order to maintain excellent faculty at the university for years to come, Marquette needs to make sure all its faculty feel they have job security. To stand idly while the process of unionization convenes sends a clear message to prospective hires — that Marquette reserves the right to exploit its faculty members’ hard work and time.

Marquette supporting unionization at the university would show its care and concern for all faculty, not just those with tenure. Any financial or losses Marquette would endure from unionization are outweighed by the benefits it would provide adjunct faculty and graduate students on campus. Beyond the dollars and cents of the issue, there is a greater moral imperative behind unionization.

As a community of men and women with and for others, a strong union exists solely to protect and reward one of our university’s most valuable resources — our hard-working educators. Marquette should stand with them.

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4 Comments

4 Responses to “EDITORIAL: University should support unionization process”

  1. Rolland Hamm on April 30th, 2019 2:52 pm

    SEIU has dirty hands and lack wisdom, knowledge and understanding of proper union behavior.

  2. Ben Soto on April 30th, 2019 3:12 pm

    FROM: SEIU Organizer (Former Employee) – NY

    Don’t ask questions just do as you’re told.

    Those senior organizers who make upwards of 85-100k seem less concerned with getting real organizing info from those organizers who are still in the field on the front lines doing the contact work.
    Whatever information about the difficulties we face seems to go unheard or just plain ignored. Results could be better if they actually cared about the workers they organize or equally as important their own “team” of organizers. Clearly an organizer making 100grand a year cares less about you than they do their salary and at the end of the day that becomes painfully clear. I guess once you reach that level of salary nothing really matters anyway.
    They may be more experienced but they clearly lack interpersonal or any sort of skill in how to deal with organizers who they feel may pose a threat or rock the boat. I was targeted by one of their senior organizers for disagreeing with him and leaving work after a more than 12 hour day before a pointless debrief with another organizer who was late for said debrief and who had full knowledge that I was leaving. I was lied to and on by the same organizer (K.F.) who told someone that we debrief every hour on the hour when in fact he didn’t even know who I was. (I still have the texts to prove it too) Fat greasy lying p.o.s!!!!
    Don’t ask too many questions or have a mind of your own, keep your head down and tow the company line EVEN IF they (SEIU) isn’t the company you ACTUALLY WORK FOR…(hello NYCC) they can still cut you off at the knees and take away your only source of income…which is odd when you consider they are supposed to be pro worker. Unless you work as an organizer I guess.

  3. Seth M. on May 1st, 2019 11:32 am

    I’m all for employees organizing to fight for better wages, benefits, and conditions, but large unions which come in with their boilerplate contracts and see MU as a source of revenue with no regard the community, institution, or fellow peers is not the Jesuit way.

    Some information about Service Employees International Union (SEIU) which created Faculty Forward:

    According to the SEIU International Constitution and Bylaws, members can be put on trial by the union and fined for a number of infractions. One of which is “disloyalty” or “working as a strikebreaker.” (pg. 36) HYPERLINK “https://d3jpbvtfqku4tu.cloudfront.net/img/constitution-2016.pdf” https://d3jpbvtfqku4tu.cloudfront.net/img/constitution-2016.pdf

    Even non-members are required to pay. Once SEIU is allowed to collectively bargain on behalf of the employee (regardless of those who support unionization), they will then establish a contract with MU which will require non-members to also pay their “fair‐share” or “agency” fee. (See Local 509 letter HYPERLINK “http://www.seiu509.org/wp-content/blogs.dir/77/files/2018/05/Higher-Ed-Member-Legal-Rights.pdf” http://www.seiu509.org/wp-content/blogs.dir/77/files/2018/05/Higher-Ed-Member-Legal-Rights.pdf) (See St. Martin’s University letter HYPERLINK “https://www.stmartin.edu/sites/default/files/smu-files/human-resources/smu-contingent-faculty-seiu-faq-06-02-2016.pdf” https://www.stmartin.edu/sites/default/files/smu-files/human-resources/smu-contingent-faculty-seiu-faq-06-02-2016.pdf)

    Union members typically pay 1.5%-1.7% of their salary. Non-members typically pay 83% of member dues (1.2%-1.6%)

    Since 1990, SEIU has spent $289,670,243 towards political donations.

  4. Jim Pere on May 8th, 2019 4:04 pm

    What’s good for the goose, truly is good for the gander. As a liberal institution Marquette should be held to liberal principles which includes that of unionization. Although I believe that Marquette should allow its staff to unionize (for the above reason) here are some fair questions for a fair article:

    -Are there instances of people who have been afraid to speak out regarding low pay?
    -Do graduate student employees at other institutions have health insurance provided by their attending University?
    -While adjunct professors are considered part time positions, how do their “extremely low wages” compare with other part time jobs?
    -What evidence is there that the University can extend economic stability?
    -Who’s to say that the “collective” faculty will stop at what is fair, and not head for what is extreme? We have seen instances of this in Lake Forest IL. (1)
    -Isn’t it true that most (if not all) part-time employees have a second job to garner the benefits of being a full-time employee?
    -Might it be a bit presumptuous to say that Marquette is still a prestigious school seeing how it continues to fall in the rankings year after year? (2,3)

    1. https://www.dailyherald.com/article/20120919/news/709199896/
    2. https://www.washingtonpost.com/apps/g/page/local/us-news-college-ranking-trends-2014/1292/
    3. https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/marquette-university-3863

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