The following is from Adjuncts and Contingents Together Washington, a project of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 925:
SEATTLE — In a resounding victory, Antioch University Seattle adjunct and contingent faculty have voted to form a union, joining a rapidly growing national movement to address the crisis in higher education and the troubling trend toward a marginalized teaching faculty.
Adjuncts and contingent faculty stood together and overwhelmingly supported a union by voting 85 to 14 to join SEIU Local 925. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) counted the votes for the all-mail ballot election on Wednesday. The win is a 86 percent vote in favor of forming a union — a landslide victory for the contingent faculty and the entire Antioch Seattle community.
“Time for celebration!” said contingent faculty member Alex Suarez. “Congratulations to the faculty and to everyone at Antioch University Seattle. We have taken an important step towards a more balanced dialogue. The faculty voices now have a better chance of being heard and given the respect and authority our experience merits. In a world where balance and dialogue are so necessary, we are better able to foster them. Where else can wisdom come from?”
Today’s election is a milestone, first voiced in an open letter from Antioch contingent faculty in the spring:
Antioch University provides learner-centered education to empower students with the knowledge and skills to lead meaningful lives and to advance social, economic, and environmental justice. We cannot model this mission for students when our own faculty are not cared for, and are not allowed to be truly active agents in the institution’s decision-making processes. We believe that unionization allows us to embody our own mission statement for our students and ourselves.
“I believe in the transformative education that Antioch University Seattle offers students,” said Antioch alumna and now adjunct faculty member Elizabeth Burke. “It’s exciting to teach triple bottom line accounting to students taking poetry and eco-psychology during the same quarter.” She added:
The faculty of Antioch University Seattle formed a union with SEIU Local 925 because of our passion for teaching our students and desire to have voice at Antioch. Our overwhelming YES vote is an endorsement of Antioch’s commitment to social justice and a step toward creatively addressing the challenges that face higher education.
We look forward to bringing the energy and message of our collective voice into collaboration with the administration, working together to make Antioch University Seattle a dynamic and relevant learning environment for students.
Today’s vote count marks the third union election for contingent faculty at private sector universities in Washington state. Contingent faculty at Pacific Lutheran University and Seattle University have also conducted their union elections. Ballots, though, have been impounded at those schools pending a decision on the administrations’ appeal to the NLRB in Washington, D.C.
Throughout Washington State and across the country adjunct faculty continue to fight to address the crisis in higher education: a marginalized teaching faculty, administrative bloat, quickly rising tuition, and record levels of student debt. Thousands of adjunct and contingent workers have joined SEIU/Adjunct Action in the last year. Workers at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York and the University of the District of Columbia are set to vote to form their union this summer, following in the footsteps of faculty at a dozen other schools, including Northeastern University, Hamline University, San Francisco Art Institute, Georgetown, Howard University and Mills College, all of whom have joined SEIU/Adjunct Action since May 2013.
Adjuncts and Contingents Together Washington is a project of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 925, part of the nation’s largest and fastest growing union and home to more than 21,000 unionized part-time and contingent college and university faculty who have won improvements in pay, job security, evaluation processes, and access to retirement benefits.