Labor Board Determines Marist College Committed Objectionable Election Conduct, Calls for a Re-run of the Union Election
POUGHKEEPSIE, NY – The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled Monday that Marist College committed objectionable conduct during the course of the union election for the nearly 500 part-time adjunct faculty employed by the college organizing with Adjunct Action/Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Local 200United. The ruling called for the results of the election to be set aside and for a new election to be held at a time to be determined.
Nicolas Veroli, an adjunct faculty member in the philosophy department, said of the ruling: “I feel really proud of our efforts to organize ourselves to better our working conditions and the educational environment for students at Marist, so this ruling is for me a vindication that the time for change has come for adjuncts at Marist and all over New York State! We are making history here, and it’s a history that will positively impact not only the current generation of college students, but future ones as well.”
The election had been conducted by the NLRB via mail ballot in June of this year. The result had previously been indeterminate based on a number of outstanding challenges by Adjunct Action/SEIU alleging that Marist College had stacked the eligibility list with administrators who were not in fact eligible to vote.
The NLRB agreed with the adjunct faculty who alleged that Marist College committed objectionable conduct during the election that interfered with the free choice of employees. The NLRB ruled that the college deliberately censored pro-union adjuncts from communicating effectively over a private college listserv by disparately enforcing college policy. They also ruled that college President Dennis Murray flagrantly promoted the creation of an internal committee just a week before the election in an attempt to dissuade adjuncts from voting for unionization. Finally, the NLRB ruled that an announcement of an increase in the starting salary for adjuncts was yet another attempt to discourage voting for unionization.
Adjunct faculty member Karen Comstock, who teaches in the education department, stated: “The right to form a union without employer discrimination is essential to the ‘right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’ It is unfortunate that the administration decided to spend student tuition money on lawyers that are known for union-busting strategies.”
“I am very glad that the NLRB came down on the side of democracy, and that our effort to organize is helping to bring attention to the plight of part-time faculty at Marist College, and across this nation.”
The union organizing committee will meet in the near future and be requesting input from all Marist adjuncts to discuss steps.
Nationwide, adjuncts are organizing to form unions on campuses and the blatant violations of federal labor law committed by Marist College are not the norm. Washington University in St. Louis has agreed to allow for a free and fair election without interference for its adjuncts as they seek to organize with Adjunct Action/SEIU. At Tufts University in Boston, adjuncts recently ratified a historic collective bargaining agreement after a long but collaborative process with the college administration that dramatically improves working conditions and provides real job security.
In New York, adjunct faculty at the College of Saint Rose in Albany voted overwhelmingly to form a union in September and are preparing for contract negotiations. Adjuncts at Herkimer Community College filed with the New York State Public Employee Relations Board to form a union.