June 4, 2015 marks the one-year anniversary of the union election for adjunct and contingent faculty here at Seattle University. One year of obstruction, delay, and intimidation by the university administration. They have denied our right to form a union, appealed the multiple court decisions that upheld our right, and forced our ballots to be impounded, uncounted, for an entire year.
When adjunct and contingent faculty announced our decision to hold a union election, and expressed our desire to form a union that would represent our interests in contract negotiations with the university, the administration had a choice. They could have responded by remaining neutral in the process. They could have welcomed the opportunity to work more closely with faculty who have been largely shut out of the university’s mechanisms of self government. Unfortunately, that was not their decision.
Instead, the SU administration turned this into a confrontational and antagonistic process. They hired a well-known union busting law firm to contest our very right to form a union. They used every communication medium available to make it clear to us they did not want us to form a union. And they did all of this in direct opposition to Catholic teaching on social justice, which is crystal clear: all workers, in every profession, have an inalienable right to form unions, and unions themselves serve an essential function in the work of social justice. Employers have a duty to provide just compensation to workers, and to respect the basic human rights of their employees.
We seek to exercise our inalienable rights, and to bargain with the administration to improve student learning conditions at Seattle University, an institution we love and respect. As Catholic teaching also makes clear, however, the institution must not set itself above the human beings that constitute it. Our goal is to make Seattle University stronger, and to address long-standing grievances that no other process has adequately confronted. Yet so far, the administration has treated us like outsiders trying to claim something we do not deserve.
It has been a year of struggle and success for adjunct and contingent faculty at Seattle University, but it is not over yet. We call upon the administration to finally drop its last appeals against our right to form a union. Count our votes. Sit down and bargain with us in good faith. Show the community that social justice at SU applies not only to good works we perform off campus, but also to how the institution treats its own people every day.
Organizing Committee, ACTogether
Michael Ng, History | Julie Harms-Cannon, Sociology | Anne Hepfer, English Language & Culture Bridge | Louisa Edgerly, Communication | Ben Stork, Film Studies