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More Good Organizing News: Non-Tenure-Track Faculty Members At Two University Of Southern California Academic Units Have Voted To Unionize

Published Friday, February 5, 2016
by The Los Angeles Times

(LOS ANGELES) - The results, announced by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) earlier this week, make University of Southern California (USC) the largest private university in California to have Faculty represented by a Union.

Eligible Faculty Members in the Roski School of Art and Design opted to join Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 721 by a vote of 31-to-6.  In addition, eligible Faculty from the USC International Academy voted 32-to-3 to approve the Union.

However, Non-Tenure-Track Faculty Members at USC's Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences rejected the effort to Unionize.  The vote among Non-Tenure-Track Faculty in USC's oldest school was 113 in favor of Unionization and 127 against.

A simple majority was required to win.

USC Provost Michael Quick sent an e-mail to Faculty Members saying that USC planned to appeal the Roski vote because school administrators believe that some faculty there are managers who cannot be Unionized.  He said USC would first appeal to the NLRB in Washington, D.C., and would go to federal court if necessary.  “Many steps remain before the matter is settled,” he wrote.  Quick said that the school would not appeal the International Academy vote and that he did not take the close vote at Dornsife “lightly.”   “A substantial number of Faculty expressed their dissatisfaction with their votes,” he wrote.

Kate Levin, a lecturer in Dornsife who supported the Unionization effort, said she was heartened by the votes at Roski and the International School:  “In the face of aggressive Anti-Union Tactics by the USC administration, two key schools managed to ‘rise above the fear.’  A victory at two out of three schools by a ‘landslide’ sends a ‘gigantic message’ to USC.”

The SEIU has been working for nearly a year to organize a total of 430 Faculty Members at the three schools.  The Union has previously held successful organizing campaigns at Whittier College and Tufts University.

USC Faculty who voted for the union said they were frustrated with large workloads, low pay, shrinking benefits and poor career prospects.

Non-Tenure-Track Faculty are generally responsible for leading discussion groups and teaching some classes, in addition to grading papers.  Unlike their counterparts on the tenure track, they are not evaluated on the basis of their research.

Lecturers are paid about $30,000 annually if they teach a full-time load of six courses, according to Union Officials.  USC says the pay is much higher.

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