Graduate students at Tufts University also set to vote on unionization in the coming weeks
Waltham, MA — Graduate students at Brandeis University have overwhelmingly voted to form a union, deciding by a two to one margin to join SEIU Local 509. Brandeis graduate students with teaching responsibilities are just the latest Boston-area educators to join SEIU 509 Faculty Forward, which currently represents nearly 4,000 non-tenure-track and adjunct faculty in the area.
“Given the role that graduate student workers play in teaching at Brandeis, we deserve a seat at the table,” said Diana Filar, a, English PhD candidate at Brandeis. “Today’s vote to form a union opens the door to negotiations with the administration to ensure that it focuses on our professional development and training as educators.”
The vote at Brandeis represents the first successful graduate student unionization vote at a private institution in the Boston area since the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)’s August 2016 ruling to allow grad student workers at private institutions to unionize.
“This win is an opportunity to address labor concerns with the administration and frees us and our professors to focus on our academic and research goals. It provides us with an assurance that we can address concerns on an equal footing with the university, without fear of retaliation. Our work suffers when we can’t address our needs, and both we and the university share the common goal of doing our best work,” said Anna Henkin, a PhD candidate in Biochemistry and Biophysics at Brandeis.
The election occurred at Brandeis University on Tuesday, May 2nd, and votes were counted immediately following the election at the election site. Graduate student workers at Tufts University will also hold a unionization vote this month. To arrange an interview with Brandeis graduate students leading the movement to unionize, contact Christie Stephenson: (413) 374-6370.
SEIU Local 509 represents nearly 20,000 human service workers and educators throughout the commonwealth, including nearly 4,000 part- and full-time faculty in the Greater Boston area. SEIU 509 members provide a variety of social services to elders, at-risk children and people with mental illnesses or developmental disabilities — as well as educational opportunities from early learning to higher education. Local 509 is part of the Service Employees International Union, the fastest-growing labor union in the United States.
Escalating campaign to get fair contracts for faculty coincides with admitted students’ visits to area campuses
Mobile billboards are circling the campuses of Boston University and Tufts University today, urging the administrations at both institutions to negotiate fair contracts for part-time lecturers and non-tenure track faculty. SEIU Local 509, which represents faculty at both schools, is running the billboard campaign in an effort to ensure that university leadership knows that non-tenure track faculty have the support of students, tenured faculty, and even prospective students. Images of the billboards can be viewed below.
“Tufts University has long been a leader in higher education, and it is our sincere hope that the administration will demonstrate this in its negotiations with its part-time faculty,” said Andy Klatt, part-time lecturer in Romance Languages at Tufts. “Despite making gains in our last contract with the university, part-time lecturers still face job instability and low pay. The Tufts Administration should work with us to address the challenges facing part-time faculty if it is truly committed to providing students with the highest quality educational experience.”
“Since over two-thirds of Boston University’s faculty are non-tenure-track, our working conditions directly impact student learning,” said Molly Monet-Viera, Senior Lecturer of Spanish at BU. “We are encouraging students and the entire BU community to join us in asking the administration to focus on its core mission — educating students — by investing in its non-tenure track faculty.”
“We believe it is critically important that students — and prospective students — hold university administrators accountable for ensuring that their non-tenure track faculty have fair contracts and working conditions,” said Jeremy Thompson, Director of Higher Education for SEIU Local 509. “This billboard campaign, and our efforts to win fair contracts at BU and Tufts, are just the latest example of non-tenure track faculty coming together to address the crisis in higher education.”
SEIU Local 509 represents part- and full-time faculty at at Bentley, Boston University, Brandeis, Lesley, Northeastern, and Tufts. Recently, members of SEIU Local 509’s chapters at Boston-area universities went to the Massachusetts State House to ask lawmakers to support legislation, HB 2236, that would ensure fair wages and job stability for adjunct faculty.
Faculty Forward is a project of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 509, and home to nearly 4,000 unionized faculty who have won improvements in pay, job security, evaluation processes, and access to retirement benefits. SEIU Local 509 represents more than 20,000 human service workers and educators throughout the Commonwealth. Local 509 is part of the Service Employees International Union, the fastest-growing labor union in the United States. For more information, visit http://seiu509.org.
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Nominations will be accepted until Wednesday October 10th, 2018 at noon.
Below you will find the list of opportunities to serve on the SEIU 509 Unionwide Trustee, Joint Executive Board (JEB) and Chapter Executive Boards (CEBs). If you are interested in running for a seat — or nominating a colleague — please follow these instructions:
Only members in good standing are eligible for nomination. Members may nominate themselves or be nominated by fellow SEIU 509 members. The member doing the nominating also needs to be a member in good standing.
Submit nominations for vacancies in writing to Jenny Bauer in the union office by fax (508-485-8529), email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or US mail (293 Boston Post Road West, Marlborough, MA 01752 ).
When submitting the e-mail, please put “Nomination” in the subject line.
Nominees who are unopposed shall be declared elected on that date. If offices are contested, election dates will be announced and candidates will be notified.
WASHINGTON—SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry issued the following statement on President-elect Trump’s intended nomination of Andrew Puzder, chief executive of CKE Restaurants, to be Secretary of Labor:
“With the intended nomination of Andrew Puzder for Secretary of Labor, President-elect Trump has once again shown how out-of-touch he is with what working Americans need. Working families, including those who elected him, issued a mandate for economic change because they are sick and tired of working longer and harder than ever but still struggling to build a better future for their families. Puzder has proven he doesn’t support working people: he opposes raises to the minimum wage, even though every time Americans have been called to vote for raises on the ballot, they always do.
“Throughout his career, Andrew Puzder has shown he does not believe in the dignity of all work and has used his position to line his own pockets at the expense of workers. In 2012, Puzder made $4.4 million, a full 291 times more than the average food worker. He doesn’t support measures that would help families who work hard build a better life, such as the overtime rule, which would put more money in the pockets of millions of workers for the extra work they do. He wants machines to replace workers because robots ‘never take a vacation’ – even though robots can not ever replace the work that people do. He has stood with Republican congressional leaders who want to repeal the Affordable Care Act – even though his underpaid workers and millions of working Americans depend on it for healthcare.
“Working Americans aren’t fooled by the anti-worker Trump-Puzder vision for America. They know it threatens their ability to have a voice and to provide for their families. That is why millions of American workers continue to come together through the Fight for $15 movement to make President-elect Trump and his administration deal with our economic reality. Together, workers in the Fight for $15 movement have made the kind of economic change America is crying out for by paving the way for 20 million people to get a raise. SEIU members will not back down, we will stay in the streets to fight back against anti-worker extremism and we will not stop until all work in valued and every community in America has the opportunity to thrive.”
The results are in! With all votes tallied, SEIU Local 509 members have elected our next leadership team. Peter MacKinnon will serve as president of our union, alongside Israel Pierre as our treasurer and Ivette Hernandez as our recording secretary. (See below for more details about our many election results.)
Local 509 takes pride in our long-held reputation as a thoroughly democratic union. All members are encouraged to participate by supporting candidates of your choice, submitting amendment proposals, nominating colleagues for leadership positions or running for office yourself.
Nominations for these leadership positions were accepted on October 15 as a record number of human service workers and educators gathered in Westborough for the Local 509 Annual Meeting. In that gathering, we learned more about how we’re building our strength across Massachusetts, met with some of the Commonwealth’s leading elected officials. Dozens of us also stepped up to take action in support of the Fair Share Amendment, Fight for $15, and a host of other important causes.
It has been an exciting year for our union, with a promising string of victories in our new organizing efforts, contract negotiations and on the broader public policy front. We look forward to seeing how these leaders will build on recent organizing and contract victories to set a future course for our union and the communities we serve.
Congratulations to our newly elected leadership team!
Candidates will officially be sworn into office at our December 13th JEB meeting held at our union headquarters.
BOSTON, MA – Unionized faculty throughout Greater Boston hailed today’s historic Columbia decision by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) – a landmark ruling that asserts the rights and protections of graduate employees nationwide under the National Labor Relations Act. Educators at local private colleges and universities celebrated the prospect of graduate assistant colleagues joining the robust movement to improve teaching and learning conditions in higher education.
“Today marks an important milestone in a greater union movement that is fighting back against the corporatized reality of modern higher education,” stated Max White, an English lecturer and FacultyForward/SEIU member from Northeastern University. “We know first-hand how precarious the graduate employee situation can be, and we welcome all who choose to join us in the fight to steer higher education to invest more in the classroom.”
At Boston University, Writing Program lecturer Marie McDonough expressed enthusiasm for the decision: “We are excited to start off the school year knowing that graduate students who teach and do research in our universities now have a right to a join us in the fight to improve the learning environment for our students.”
Non-tenure-track faculty at Boston-area universities form the backbone of a robust, nationwide campaign to address the crisis in higher education – winning a series of impressive victories that have improved compensation and teaching conditions through unionization. Nearly 4,000 educators have now joined in the shared effort to raise standards and improve the overall quality of higher education through SEIU Local 509’s Faculty Forward initiative. Contingent faculty broke new ground earlier this year with strong first contracts at Bentley, Boston University and Northeastern, following landmark agreements at Tufts and Lesley in 2015. Negotiations are underway among non-tenure-track faculty at Brandeis University. Full-time lecturers and instructors have also entered the fray in recent months, netting landslide union victories at Tufts, BU and Lesley.
“We are thrilled to welcome graduate students into our movement for equitable wages and benefits, as well as course stability and security,” said, Tufts University Senior Lecturer and SEIU 509 member Elizabeth Lemons. “Graduate students with teaching and research assistantships likewise deserve fair treatment and respect for the crucial work that they do with students and as researchers. We look forward to their help building a hospitable academic community—one that values the contributions of all university workers. A respectful community with equitable working conditions is the best environment for student learning.”
The educator-led movement to improve teaching and learning conditions has resonated nationally as well. Just days ago, faculty from around the country convened with other underpaid workers in Richmond, Virginia at the first-ever Fight for $15 convention. Together, the delegation raised calls for better pay and union rights for all workers.
“Any opportunity for fellow instructors to have a say in shaping their working conditions is great news,” said Melissa Wolter-Gustafson, a lecturer from Northeastern’s English Department. “These new voices will strengthen our collective call for universities to begin reinvesting in teaching and in the learning conditions of their students.”
Graduate workers interested in the fight to raise standards in higher education can visit the Faculty Forward website to learn more and get involved.
**For interviews with faculty standing in solidarity with graduate employee colleagues, contact Gabriela Camargo Martins at (774) 326-0535 or email@example.com.**
SEIU Local 509 represents more than 20,000 human service workers and educators throughout the commonwealth, including nearly 4,000 part- and full-time faculty in the Greater Boston area. SEIU 509 members provide a variety of social services to elders, at-risk children and people with mental illnesses or developmental disabilities — as well as educational opportunities from early learning to higher education. Local 509 is part of the Service Employees International Union, the fastest-growing labor union in the United States. For more information, visit http://seiu509.org.
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You should have already received your copy of the 509News in the mail, but you can also access and download here. Read more about some of our recent victories, the upcoming 509 Leadership elections and how to obtain new member benefits.
Many colleges and universities rely on the labor of graduate student workers to educate undergraduates, support research projects and further the work of tenured and tenure-track faculty, all of which contribute to making an exceptional academic experience, improve student outcomes and increase college ratings. However, graduate student assistants’ work is often under-rewarded and under-appreciated. We teach and research without an adequate voice in pay and university fees when the cost of living keeps going up. We often lack flexibility in healthcare coverage and basic protections that would prevent workplace harassment and discrimination and prevent sudden changes to our contracts and work conditions. Too many of us are completing programs with crushing debt loads and less than rosy prospects for permanent, full time work in their chosen field of study.
Colleges are acting more and more like big corporations and leaving graduate students with impossible choices — choosing between their future degree and field, their students, and their families. You can be a part of the growing movement to tackle the crisis in higher education.