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Landmark Neutrality and Election Agreement for Barnard College Contingent Faculty

NEW YORK, NY—Barnard College has signed an agreement with BCF-UAW Local 2110 allowing most non-tenure-track faculty to vote on whether to unionize in a mail ballot this September.

“This is a positive step forward for faculty,” said Siobhan Burke, adjunct lecturer in the Dance Department and a Barnard alumna. “A union will give us a voice in our employment conditions. By lessening the precariousness of our economic situation as employees, it will allow us to stay focused on our role as educators.”

The agreement came late last Thursday, the last day of hearings in front of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to determine an appropriate unit of employees after BCF-UAW petitioned for union certification last month. Following a campaign in which a majority of contingent faculty signed BCF-UAW union cards, and the union filed with the NLRB, Barnard had contested the right of full and part-time contingent faculty to be in the union together, maintaining that they lacked a “community of interest.”

In a statement to the campus community about the agreement, Barnard President Debora Spar said Barnard’s administration “fully supports the right of these contingent faculty to make a decision for themselves and without interference,” pledges “to remain neutral throughout the voting process,” and encourages “everyone in the Barnard community who is not in the faculty group encompassed by the Agreement to also remain neutral by refraining from campaigning for or against the Union.”

“We commend the College for reaching this election agreement with us rather than engaging in unnecessary conflict." said Julie Kushner, Director of UAW Region 9A, which includes New York City, New England and Puerto Rico. “We are encouraged by the growing number of employers who have been working out neutrality agreements such as this one. All workers deserve the right to choose unionization without influence from their employers.”

“We have been talking about a union for over a year and are gratified that we will now have the opportunity to vote for it in a binding election,” said Linn Cary Mehta, adjunct lecturer in the English Department.

Highlights of the agreement include the following:

  • Mail ballot election administered by the NLRB, September 14 – October 1.

  • The College administration pledges to remain neutral during the process and encourages the wider campus community to do the same. Read the full statement of President Spar here.

  • Anyone in the agreed-upon unit will be eligible to vote if they taught during the 2014-15 year.

  • The agreed-upon unit, contained in a NLRB stipulation, includes approximately 200 adjunct faculty, 31 full-time term professors, lab associates and a small number of other titles. It excludes 45 full-time faculty, of whom over a third are supervisors and would not be eligible under the law anyway.

“We have been bargaining contracts with Barnard for more than 40 years now and we have negotiated important improvements for women in the workplace,” said Maida Rosenstein, President of UAW Local 2110, which includes Barnard support staff as well as other higher education employees. “We look forward to productive collective bargaining for both contingent faculty and support staff."

The UAW represents more than 50,000 higher education workers nationwide, including contingent faculty at New York University, The New School, Technical Careers Institute, Goddard College and UMass Lowell. UAW Local 2110 represents support staff at Barnard, Columbia University, Teachers College, and Mercy College as well as NYU graduate assistants.

Media contact: Ken Lang (206) 390-4265