November 12, 2014
Dear Saint Mary’s community,
As a Catholic College in the Lasallian tradition of the Christian Brothers, we take seriously our commitment to principles of social justice and the dignity of all persons. For this reason, it is my firm belief that the decision to unionize or not rests entirely with our contingent faculty and is theirs alone to make as they consider what is best for themselves and their families. It is important to ensure that as many contingent faculty as possible who have recurring teaching appointments at the College be included in the voting process for the proposed bargaining unit.
Instead of a hearing with the National Labor Relations Board, this past Monday the parties engaged directly to define which contingent faculty should be included in the vote. The College and the Service Employees International Union agreed to expand the voting body to include contingent faculty who were employed both in 2013 and for at least one term in 2014, and those employed in 2014 who have already received a teaching contract for 2015. These definitions apply to those who teach in Moraga, and potentially to those off-site, subject to further review by the National Labor Relations Board after the election. Due to the unique geographical dispersion of LEAP faculty, they will not be included in the represented unit. The Notice of Election that will be issued by the National Labor Relations Board will provide the official definition of voter eligibility and will be posted around the campus.
As many contingent faculty as possible who are affected by this important decision should have the opportunity to participate in the vote. Individuals considering union representation have the right to be fully informed with accurate information on the election and its impact on their working conditions so they can make a decision that is right for them. We have aimed to answer questions we receive as accurately, transparently and with as little bias as possible, and we will continue to do so.
The next steps will be for the NLRB to approve the agreement between the College and the SEIU regarding the definition of voting unit and for the College to submit a list of eligible faculty based on the approved criteria. This list will then be shared with the NLRB so that ballots can be mailed on December 8, with a December 22 deadline for return. Votes will be counted on December 29.
My primary concern, and I believe the primary concern of all faculty, is providing a high quality education for our students. We are at a pivotal moment in the College’s relationship with its contingent faculty. I want to reaffirm that Saint Mary’s remains committed to its entire faculty, including contingent faculty. We recognize and appreciate the efforts of all faculty members in our quest to provide an excellent education for our students.
James A. Donahue