Full-time contingent faculty members at Ithaca College have voted to form a union with Service Employees International Union Local 200United, according to a press release issued May 24. They elected to unionize in a 23–13 vote out of 47 eligible voters, said Zeke Perkins, organizer for SEIU Local 200United.
Full-time contingent faculty members, or non-tenure–track faculty members, announced plans to unionize in April due to increasing concerns over job security, benefits and inclusion at the college. On April 7, the administration denied their request to join the existing part-time faculty union, citing a desire to work directly through shared governance. Full-time contingent faculty said at that time they would continue to move forward to file for a union election through the National Labor Relations Board.
Perkins said the full-time contingent faculty filed with the NLRB on April 11 and ballots were sent out for the vote May 6 to be filled out and received by May 23.
Rachel Gunderson, instructor in the Department of Health Promotion and Physical Education, said the next step for the full-time contingent faculty is to join the part time–faculty bargaining unit, which began negotiations in October.
“We believe that as one group of contingent faculty, we can negotiate for a stronger academic program for both faculty and students,” she said in the release.
According to a statement from the college, once the NLRB has certified the unionization election, the college will “bargain in good faith” with full-time contingent faculty and SEIU representatives. The college reiterated its previous stance on the union, stating that the administration prefers to work with the faculty through shared governance and does not think the full-time contingent faculty should join the part-time faculty unit.
“We remain committed to working in partnership with all of our faculty within a system of shared governance to best serve the educational needs of our students,” it stated. “It also remains the college’s position that our full-time contingent faculty not be included in the same bargaining unit as our part-time and adjunct faculty, as those groups are separate and distinct.”
It is still to be determined if full-time contingent faculty members will continue to pursue bargaining with members of the existing part-time union. However, some members, like Dave Kornreich, assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, said bargaining together would be easier for the college, despite its stance against it.
“We hope the college reconsiders their initial reticence as it would seem to be a waste of time and money to bargain two contracts when we consider ourselves to be one faculty,” he said.