LA adjuncts faculty await election to determine union

by Nathanael King / Beacon Staff • November 19, 2015

The National Labor Relations Board has scheduled an election to determine whether Emerson’s adjunct faculty in Los Angeles will be represented by a union. Organizers within the LA part­-time faculty have been actively campaigning since September for representation under the American Association of University Professors.

According to the election agreement between the college and the AAUP, the NLRB will mail ballots to all LA affiliated faculty members who have taught credit­-bearing courses in the past two school years on Nov. 23. The votes must be received by the NRLB by Dec. 10, and will be counted the next day.

Jennifer Vandever, an organizer and member of the LA adjunct faculty, said in a phone interview that there are currently 22 part­-time faculty members eligible to vote.

“We’re feeling very confident,” Vandever said. “There’s a very strong support [system].”

David Kociemba, president of the Affiliated Faculty of Emerson College, the existing AAUP chapter that represents the Boston campus’ adjunct faculty, said in an interview that he felt confident about the results of the election.

“I fully expect that they’ll win,” he said.

In a statement to the Beacon, the college wrote that they believed that everyone in the bargaining unit should vote in the election, as the results will affect all LA part-time faculty members.

NLRB regulations state that if more than 50 percent of voters indicate that they favor unionization, it will be formed and contract negotiations with the college will begin.

Last month, the Beacon reported that 78 percent of adjuncts had signed authorization cards indicating interest in unionization. The college denied the LA pro-unionization organizers’ request to join the AFEC in order to further explore options.

Vandever responded to the administration’s claims that the signature gathering process had been “union­-driven,” saying that no authorization cards had been collected by the AAUP.

Should the LA adjuncts be cleared to form their own union, Vandever said that they would use the AFEC contract as a basis to begin negotiations. She said that many of the issues that Boston part­-timer professors built their contract around—including compensation and benefits—are the focus of the LA pro­-union organizers.

Kociemba said that the AFEC was still in contact with organizers in LA and continued to exchange information with them.

“The College has successful relationships with its unions,” the college’s statement reads. “We continue to support the rights of the LA­ based affiliated faculty to determine whether union representation is right for them.”