April 23, 2024
SEIU web site selling labor union on the College of San Diego.

Two years in the past, lecturers and different nontenure-track college within the College of San Diego’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences quietly started efforts to unionize.

Letter sent April 2 to USD employees. (PDF)
Letter despatched April 2 to USD staff. (PDF)

On Thursday, after encountering obstacles, they go “nuclear,” as one advocate put it. They may stage a 1 p.m. rally at Colachis Plaza — close to the Immaculata Church.

A labor union could be the primary on the 75-year-old non-public college affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church.

Soroya Rowley, a theatre division lecturer, is co-lead of a 13-member organizing committee — working for a collective bargaining unit tied to Service Staff Worldwide Union Native 721.

She says her 19-department unit of 200-plus lecturers (a USD official says 300) is already seeing help from among the 12 different colleges on the hillside campus overlooking Mission Bay and Mission Valley.

Her group desires larger pay and higher job safety.

“On the charge I’m being paid as a lecturer to show one class, which is 3 items, it’s $6,500 for the semester,” Rowley stated in a cellphone interview Wednesday. A full load for a nontenure-track college member — 4 courses a semester — interprets to $52,000 {dollars} a 12 months, she stated.

“And that’s effectively under what is taken into account low earnings in San Diego — and we’re speaking folks with PH.Ds,” she stated.  “, we’re within the new Gilded Age and yeah, the wealth disparity is worse than it’s ever been.”

Nearly all of nontenure-track college, additionally referred to as adjunct professors, are on semester-to-semester contracts, she added.

“Our job is presumably not going to be there anymore, relying on the whim of the chair often, so you probably have a great chair and a great relationship together with your chair, that’s your solely job safety,” she stated. “There’s nothing in writing that claims that you just’re going to have an earnings in six months.”

College of San Diego groip hopes to affix San Diego State College, and UC San Diego with a labor union for lecturers. Picture by Chris Stone

USD’s response features a web site — usdfacts.com — created March 18. (Union organizers launched their very own web site as effectively.)

And on Tuesday, USD’s affiliate vice chairman and chief human assets officer despatched electronic mail with the topic line: “Essential Message to USD College Relating to Collective Bargaining.”

“The organizers and SEIU allege that ‘the administration is refusing to satisfy with us to barter the phrases of a free and truthful election,’” wrote Karen Haggenmiller, the official. “That is unfaithful and deceptive.”

She stated that at a March 7 assembly of the College Senate, a union organizer was requested by
a school senator if the group had tried to satisfy with the administration to debate its considerations previous to launching its effort.

“The consultant clearly and unequivocally said that the group made the deliberate determination to unionize first, after which demand that the administration enter into negotiations,” Haggenmiller stated.

Organizers of Thursday’s rally say they are going to name on USD President James Harris and different college leaders to “decide to a good union election for NTT instructors and an finish to the school’s latest anti-worker techniques.”

In addition they fear about interference or retaliation towards instructors for union exercise.

Lecturer Rowley remembers a 2021 transfer by USD clerical staff to prepare, “and that motion was suppressed by union-busting techniques of holding conferences and sending emails with misinformation, which they’ve already begun to do with this marketing campaign.”

“So our ask with the election settlement is that they put in writing that they’re not going to proceed to do this,” she stated. 

Union advocates say they’re being informed that President Harris can’t meet with them on the authorized recommendation of USD Normal Counsel Thomas Skinner.

In response to my questions, Skinner wrote:

“We’d have been grateful for the chance to satisfy with the college members who organized the marketing campaign previous to the formal launch of their unionization effort, to debate their considerations. Sadly, as one of many organizers said in a latest College Senate assembly, they selected to ‘have the union acknowledged’ first, and approached the administration afterward.

“As soon as the organizers selected that path, NLRB guidelines and case regulation kicked in. USD is being very cautious to observe the letter of each so as to not intrude with the method.

“We imagine that every of the 300+ nontenure observe college members within the Faculty ought to have a voice and make their very own determination. Below some interpretations of present regulation, an employer assembly with organizers might be construed as recognizing the group as a collective bargaining unit, with no card depend or a vote by all potential members. Subsequently, I’ve suggested the administration that to be able to finest shield the method, and to make sure all NTTs have an opportunity to weigh in, we must always not meet at this stage.”

Skinner added: “They very clearly state that they need the administration to take a stand on a ‘free and truthful election.’ The NLRB exists for precisely that cause — to conduct and make sure the integrity of the election course of. Neither the employer nor the organizers set these phrases.”

Instances of San Diego shared Skinner’s 350-word observe with Rowley, who shares co-lead standing with Meghan Donnelly, an adjunct assistant professor of anthropology.

Rowley responded: “We’re heartened to listen to that USD officers imagine that college ought to make the choice to unionize by an election course of, and that they gained’t take any motion to delay or impede a good election — which we all know some larger training employers throughout the nation have carried out.

“Whether or not to unionize is NTT college’s option to make, and we’re glad they agree with that precept. We name on USD to decide to neutrality throughout the election and to chorus from disseminating deceptive details about our working situations and our marketing campaign usually.”

Earlier than she noticed the Skinner observe, Rowley informed me that their group’s lawyer knowledgeable them there was no official authorized cause for them to not meet, “and that it is a stalling tactic.”

“They don’t need to conform to a free and truthful election,” she stated. “They’d somewhat proceed doing what they’re doing, which is sending out misinformation and making an attempt to suppress the motion.”

For public college and college lecturers, the chief labor unions are the AFT, NEA and AAUP.

However a 1980 Supreme Court docket ruling — NLRB vs. Yeshiva College — barred tenured professors at non-public colleges from unionizing, deeming these lecturers “managerial staff.”

Non-public college nontenured-track staff have unionized for many years, nonetheless, together with the Catholic College of San Francisco and, in 2022, Santa Clara College.

Rowley says her group contacted SEIU — which boasts 95,000 staff, making it “the biggest public-sector union in Southern California” — after a few 12 months of rising the varsity’s pro-union numbers.

SEIU “had simply unionized Santa Clara, which is a extremely comparable establishment to USD…. In order that’s why we reached out to them,” she stated. “And at first they stated: Oh, effectively, we want you to construct your numbers a bit of bit extra after which we will afford to commit some assets to you.” 

A pitch posted on the SEIU web site notes labor progress at different non-public colleges, together with Occidental Faculty and Georgetown, Tufts and Fordham universities.

“Our NTT colleagues at Loyola Marymount College are additionally forming a union to win employee rights and protections,” SEIU says, “and we stand in solidarity with their effort.”

In her Tuesday electronic mail, Hagenmiller wrote {that a} determination to deliver a union to USD for the primary time holds monumental penalties.

“It has cultural ramifications effectively past the particular proposed CBU, or the varsity by which it’s positioned,” she stated. “I want to remind everybody to please fact-check any info that you just obtain — together with this electronic mail — and ask any questions you’ll have earlier than you resolve whether or not and learn how to vote or help the trouble.”

Organizer Donnelly stated in an announcement: “USD holds itself out to the group as an ethical chief and encourages college students to change into changemakers. Nevertheless, the working situations of non-tenure observe college at USD are essentially in contradiction with the college’s said values and mission.”

She added: “President Harris and the administration know that our union marketing campaign has quite a lot of help, and that it is a grassroots motion that has been led by NTT college from day one. Nevertheless, they’ve persistently mischaracterized our union drive as the results of outdoors efforts — a traditional anti-union tactic. In actuality, we NTT college started this motion as a result of we imagine that collective bargaining is one of the simplest ways to considerably enhance our working situations at USD, and our lives.”

Rowley stated she’s seeing backing from sister schools — “and so that is positively the start of of a labor transformation at USD.”