With Nearby College of New Rochelle Closing, Professors Believe They Need a Voice on Campus
Various Elected Officials Including Assembly Members Richard Gottfried and Michael Benedetto Urge Administration to Remain Neutral
DOBBS FERRY, NY — Today, adjunct and visiting professors and tutors at Mercy College filed their petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to join Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 200United. The filing comes just a few weeks after the union organizing committee delivered a letter to President Tim Hall signed by over 100 adjunct and visiting faculty announcing their organizing drive. The filing comes during a time of significant change at Mercy College as the school prepares to absorb students, faculty, and staff from the College of New Rochelle.
Wayne Groh, an adjunct in the Math department and a member of the union organizing committee, said, “We are happy to file for our union election and to take this next step in forming our union. We are encouraged by the overwhelming support on campus and look forward to creating a better Mercy for students and faculty.“
John Ghisoni, an adjunct in the School of Business for over 30 years, added, “It is exciting that we are forming a union, not only for the adjunct professors, but more importantly for the students, who will witness how educators and management can work effectively together to form a stronger organization.”
The organizing effort is part of a national movement of higher education workers coming together for a voice on their college campuses. At Mercy College, over 600 part-time adjunct and visiting faculty make nearly 75% of the instructional staff. They work in a constant state of precarity, with no guarantee of reappointment semester-to-semester or the following academic year. Most make only $2,100 per three-credit course, one of the lowest rates of pay in the New York City metropolitan area which has one of the highest costs of living in the country. Many adjuncts work at various colleges and universities across the region to cobble together an income.
Over the past few weeks, members of the union organizing committee met with local elected officials, who expressed their support as they took the next step in their organizing drive.
Assembly Member Michael Benedetto said, “I am heartened to know that, as educators, the contingent faculty at Mercy College are motivated by a strong desire to not only improve the conditions of their own employment, but the conditions in which their students are able to learn and grow.”
Assembly Member Richard Gottfried added, “I welcome and support the organizing efforts across campuses at Mercy College. I have seen firsthand the tangible good that results when collective bargaining rights are won and exercised, including for college faculty.”
Senator Brad Hoylman and Assembly Member Thomas Abinanti sent letters of support to adjunct faculty at Mercy College and urged President Tim Hall and the Mercy College administration to remain neutral.
Catherine Johnson, a member of the union organizing committee and an adjunct in the English department, said, “We are thrilled to have the support of local elected officials, like Assembly members Abinanti and Gottfried, who have demonstrated their commitment to labor advocacy and remained true to their stated ideals.”
Students are currently circulating a petition in support of their professors and urging the College administration to remain neutral and allow for a free and fair election. Joe Minkler, a senior at Mercy College, said, “We are excited that our contingent professors are taking this step in forming their union. As students, we stand with them fully because we know that their working conditions are our learning conditions.”
A union election will be scheduled in the next few weeks. If successful, Mercy College adjunct and visiting faculty would join the nearly 800 non-tenure track faculty at Fordham University and over 60,000 faculty members nationwide who united for a voice with SEIU on over 60 college campuses.