Los Angeles adjunct faculty vote to unionize

by Nathanael King / Beacon Staff • January 13, 2016

Jennifer Vandever, an LA adjunct union organizer.
Courtesy of Vandever
Jennifer Vandever, an LA adjunct union organizer.
Courtesy of Vandever

Adjunct faculty at Emerson Los Angeles voted to form a union through the American Association of University Professors in mid-­December. Of the 22 eligible, 16 members of the part­-time faculty participated in the election under the National Labor Relations Board all voting in favor of the union.

The deadline for vote submissions was Dec. 10, and the NLRB counted the votes the next day. The AAUP officially announced the results with a press release on Dec. 14.

Jennifer Vandever, a pro-­union organizer and member of the LA-affiliated faculty, said in a phone interview that their goals were to achieve equal compensation, benefits, and transparency with their counterparts in Boston. They have not yet named the new union.

The part­-time faculty in Boston is already represented under the Affiliated Faculty of Emerson College, associated with AAUP.

“We’ll be using the AFEC contract as the beginning point for us to bargain from and go from there,” Vandever said.

The pro­-union organizers petitioned the college unsuccessfully in September to allow the LA adjuncts to merge with the AFEC.

Vandever said that David Kociemba, president of the AFEC, would act as an informal consultant during the negotiation process.

“We hope there will be a uniformity between the two contracts,” Kociemba said.

Vandever said she expected contract negotiations with the college to begin this semester. She said she and the two other affiliated faculty members within the bargaining committee, Julian Higgins and Daniel Viafore, had their first meeting to discuss strategy with Jason Elias, Western Regional Coordinator of the AAUP on Jan. 12. Higgins and Viafore are Emerson alumni.

Vandever said that once negotiations actually began, the union bargaining committee would include a representative from the AAUP.

“Emerson College's administration is looking forward to its discussions with representatives of its part­-time Los Angeles faculty,” the college wrote in a statement to the Beacon.

Vandever said that the college had not yet made any direct contact with the pro-union adjunct organizers.

“I think ultimately this will be the best for the best for the students out in LA,” Kociemba said.