Tag Archives: Unions

Pennsylvania Faculty Strike Is Over

Via Inside Higher Ed: http://ift.tt/2ePRUL8

After three days, a faculty strike at 14 campuses in Pennsylvania is over. The State System of Higher Education and the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties have reached tentative agreement on a new contract, the system announced.

Members of the faculty union had been working on an expired contract since June 2015.

The new contract will last until June 2018. More details about the contract have not yet been released. The system announcement said that the deal includes raises for faculty members and "important health care cost savings." Prior to the strike, union officials said the pay increases were too small, especially those for adjuncts, and that the health insurance changes would be too harmful to faculty members.

The faculty made some concessions in their health coverage, said union president Kenneth Mash, but "we were willing to do it for the quality of our students’ education."

The two sides came to an agreement at around 4 p.m. Eastern Friday, although negotiators from both sides did not directly communicate with each other, said Kenn Marshall, media relations manager for the university system. Instead, they bargained through intermediaries, including Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf. "I don’t think this deal would have happened if it weren’t for Governor Wolf," Mash said.

Further details will only be released after final approval of the deal.

The union issued a statement that said in part, "To preserve quality education, the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties accepted concessions to salary and benefits in exchange for eliminating most of the 249 changes the state system proposed in June. Also for the sake of students, APSCUF agreed to a salary package that was significantly lower than that of the other unions. APSCUF will release details about concessions and rescinded items in a future statement."

"We are tremendously happy for our students," Marshall said. "Come Monday, bright and early, students will be able to return to their classes."

The photo above shows pickets this week at West Chester University.

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In long-awaited decision, labor board says graduate students can unionize at private universities

Via STAT: http://ift.tt/2btr5Jd

Private universities will need to recognize graduate students who conduct research and help teach classes as employees and therefore accept the unions that they form, the National Labor Relations Board ruled Tuesday.

In a 3-1 decision, the board ruled that undergraduate and graduate student assistants and research assistants are statutory employees and are therefore covered by the National Labor Relations Act. The decision opens the door for the students and research assistants at private universities to band together to negotiate issues like pay, benefits, workload, and class size.

The decision came in response to a petition from graduate students at Columbia University and reversed a previous decision involving Brown University that found private universities are not required to recognize graduate student unions.

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In the new decision, board members wrote that the Brown decision not only had an incorrect interpretation of the act, “but also because of the nature and consequences of that error.” The decision “deprived an entire category of workers of the protections of the Act,” the members wrote.

Ahead of the decision, graduate students had been running union drives and preparing for union elections at top institutions including Harvard, Yale, Brown, Cornell, and the University of Chicago. The efforts ramped up after New York University became the first private university to voluntarily recognize its graduate student union in 2013.

Harvard, Stanford, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology were among the universities that opposed the petition before the board, warning that giving graduate students collective bargaining rights could destroy the mentor-student relationship.

Allen Aloise, dean for administration and fninance at Harvard’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, told STAT earlier this year that doctoral candidates “are students first” and that “it would be a mistake to change that relationship.”

The universities said that doctoral students were not employees because the research they conducted led them to their PhDs. Doctoral students often don’t pay tuition and in part do research and assist professors as part of the deal to get a degree tuition free.

The universities also argued that they could face disruptive grievances and years-long disputes over everything from graduate students having to grade essays, which students’ tuition got waived, and how many credits a student needed to become a teaching assistant.

The United Automobile Workers (which, despite its name, represents workers mostly from outside the auto industry nowadays) helped lead the union drive at institutions like Harvard. The union represents student unions at public institutions and NYU.

Students involved said that unionizing would allow them to negotiate stable livable stipends instead of having to rely in part on grants.

Graduate students also said that they could be both students and employees. When they were doing their own research, they were students. But when they were teaching classes, they were employees.

Scalia’s Passing A Big Break For Teachers Unions

It looks like the death of Antonin Scalia is breathing new life into the teachers unions. You really couldn’t find anyone on any side of the issue who thought the unions were going to win the Friedrich’s case over mandatory union dues. Close court watchers and experts agreed after the arguments last month that this was about […]

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UW Madison TAs Protest Working Conditions

Teaching assistants at the University of Wisconsin at Madison are planning to protest next week over a proposed restructuring of their working conditions and compensation. The students say they were not consulted, but rather learned of the plans to cap their maximum workload at 20 hours from emails directed to faculty members and administrators. The Teaching Assistants’ Association alleges the changes constitute a violation of the university’s promise to uphold its labor contract even after 2011 legislation pushed by Governor Scott Walker challenging public employee unions.

“The proposal to restructure graduate student worker pay is a nonstarter,” association leaders said in a statement. “University administrators’ calls for more ‘flexibility’ and a reliance on ‘market forces’ will actually translate into fewer positions and workplace protections for graduate employees. This means that graduate students are going to lose their jobs, along with their paychecks and health insurance.”

John Lucas, a university spokesman, said the student association is wrong in asserting that the changes — which don’t take effect until 2017 — will have any impact on their take-home pay or benefits. Rather, he said, the university’s plans relate almost exclusively to a change in the administrative process by which the graduate research assistant stipends are set. “The change will have no impact on the take-home pay or benefits” for research assistants, he said. Lucas said the proposed 20-hour cap applies to international students and is designed to comply with federal requirements.

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U of Chicago Adjuncts File for Union Election

Non-tenure-track instructors at the University of Chicago have petitioned the National Labor Relations Board to vote on whether to form a collective bargaining unit affiliated with Service Employees International Union, they announced Thursday. SEIU adjunct union drives also are under way at the University of Washington, the University of Southern California and Duke University. A spokesman for Chicago said the university had no immediate comment.

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