LA faculty union requests denied by administration

by Nathanael King / Beacon Staff • October 29, 2015

The college denied a request by certain part­​-time faculty members of the Los Angeles program to recognize the Affiliated Faculty of Emerson College, American Association of University Professors (AFEC­​AAUP), as the representative of adjunct faculty on the Los Angeles campus.

The union currently only represents the part-time faculty at the Boston campus.

Jennifer Vandever, an organizer and member of the Los Angeles part-time faculty, said earlier this month that 78 percent of the Los Angeles faculty had signed authorization cards indicating interest in unionization.

Christine Hughes, Emerson’s vice president and general counsel, issued a press release this week on behalf of the college to Jason Elias, the western regional coordinator of AAUP, saying the college denied the the effort to further explore options.

“Union ​driven signature gathering...may not accurately gauge an employee’s true opinion on unionization,” Hughes wrote in the release.

She wrote that the decision should be made by means of an election through the National Labor Relations Board. According to Hughes, the two campuses were not adequately connected, in compensation structure or communication, to merit a single bargaining group.

Elias wrote back in a press release on behalf of the AAUP that the differences between the two campuses were either negligible or caused by the fact that the Los Angeles adjuncts lack union representation.

David Kociemba, president of the AFEC and a member of Boston’s affiliated faculty, said that they planned to continue to support the unionization effort, although the Los Angeles part­-time faculty would not be able to join AFEC through a National Labor Relations Board election.

“We follow their leads,” Kociemba said in an interview. “We provide resources, advice. But it has to be driven by the LA faculty.”

Vandever said in a phone interview that the interested Los Angeles adjuncts now plan to seek their own union through an election.

“Obviously we’re disappointed, but our intention hasn’t changed,” Vandever said. “Our belief that we can and should have a union hasn’t changed.”

She said that they intended to use the AFEC’s contract with Emerson as a basis for their own negotiations.

Carole McFall, assistant vice president and director of media relations, wrote in an email statement to the Beacon that the college wants to do more research before making a decision.

“[The college] will continue to support the rights of our Los Angeles-­​based affiliated faculty to explore whether union representation is right for them,” McFall wrote.