The St. Francis College Adjunct Faculty Union won a decisive victory on Feb. 22 when adjunct faculty voted more than 2 to 1 for union representation. CAFU is affiliated with the New York State United Teachers/AFT/NEA. The final vote count was 96 to 47.
Part-time faculty members felt that the school's administration had been unresponsive to their repeated concerns about low wages, infrequent paychecks, and lack of access to health insurance and other benefits their full-time colleagues enjoy, including office and storage space, so they began a union organizing campaign. Cards were filed in early January.
The administration immediately voiced its opposition, first claiming that the college was exempt from national labor law as a religious institution (a tactic it later dropped after pressure from the union's allies), and then running an aggressive anti-union campaign that included numerous letters, e-mails and videos.
The organizing committee was successful, nevertheless, because committee members reached out to and spoke with every adjunct faculty member. They also put out a persistently positive message for the campaign—that St. Francis is a great place to work, and it will be even better with a union.
Adjunct faculty members are looking forward to negotiating a first collective bargaining agreement that will reflect the kinds of gains their AFT brothers and sisters at Marymount Manhattan College, Pace University, Fashion Institute of Technology, City University of New York, and so many other unionized colleges and universities around New York City have made.
March 3, 2010