Adjuncts at Nazareth College Become the First to Unionize at Private College in Greater Rochester Area
PITTSFORD, NY — Today, in a union election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), Nazareth College adjunct faculty voted overwhelmingly to join Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Local 200United. Out of 370 eligible voters, a clear majority of Nazareth adjuncts who taught in the 2017-2018 academic year voted 3-to-1 unionize, with 184 voting yes to 61 no votes. The election is the culmination of a year-long organizing drive launched last fall.
Jeanne Coonan, a lecturer in Music and member of the union organizing committee, said, “There are so many adjuncts at Nazareth who work so hard but haven’t received the compensation that they deserve. This is an opportunity to change that. Now, after winning our union, we can see a brighter future on the horizon for the adjuncts at Nazareth. This is a huge step forward.”
The victory is a first for contingent faculty at a private college in the greater Rochester area and one of the first union election victories in the Rochester area in years. Nationwide and across Upstate New York, adjunct and contingent faculty are uniting on their campuses to improve wages and working conditions as their numbers continue to grow.
Colleen Wolf, a lecturer in Music and member of the union organizing committee, said, “I’m looking forward to having a better dialogue with the administration. Despite the fact that we are on different sides, we are all part of the same college and want what’s best for our students. If our working conditions are better, our students will benefit. If we have more job security, it only makes the college stronger. I’m hoping that in being able to sit down and negotiate, it will only lead to a better Nazareth.”
The organizing committee went public with their organizing drive earlier this semester and students rallied to support them, delivering a petition with over 500 signatures to President Daan Braveman’s office urging him to remain neutral in the union election. Local elected leaders, including Assemblymembers Joe Morelle and Harry Bronson and Senator Joe Robach, also sent letters in support of adjuncts’ organizing drive.
In the next few weeks, organizers will begin circulating surveys to determine the priorities for contract negotiations which they hope to begin in the Fall 2018 semester.
Faculty Forward is a project of SEIU Local 200United, launched in 2014 and nearly 3,000 adjunct and contingent faculty have joined. Nationwide, SEIU represents roughly 60,000 faculty members. Our members teach at Fordham University in the Bronx, Ithaca College in Ithaca, NY, Saint Michael’s College in Burlington, VT, and Siena College in Albany, NY.