Bentley Adjunct Faculty Form a Union with SEIU Local 509

Adjunct faculty at Bentley University overwhelmingly voted “Union Yes” today, casting their ballots to joinFaculty Forward – a project of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 509. The vote marks the third faculty union victory in as many weeks, with nearly 3,000 Boston-area educators now joined in a shared effort to improve their profession and the overall quality of higher education through unionization

“This is a major victory, not only for Bentley adjuncts, but for the university and its students,” said Robert Hannigan, who has taught history at Bentley University for more than 30 years. “We now have a real chance not only to improve working conditions for adjuncts, but – in the process – to create an inclusive atmosphere that will enhance the university’s overall educational value.”

With today’s two-to-one vote, more than 220 adjunct professors at Bentley join adjunct colleagues at Boston University, Northeastern and Lesley in forming unions through SEIU Local 509. In October, part-time lecturers at Tufts signed their first union contract – making significant gains around compensation, working conditions and educators’ role in decision-making. Contingent faculty on the Lesley and Northeastern campuses also began contract negotiations in recent months.

“When we began our union effort in the spring of 2013, we felt it was important for adjuncts at Bentley to join together in order to have a collective voice,” said Joan Atlas, an adjunct lecturer in English and Media Studies who represents adjuncts in the Bentley Faculty Senate.  “Through our union, we’ve gained the ability to make real headway in improving adjuncts’ working conditions – and our students’ learning conditions – on campus.”

Greater Boston’s contingent faculty form the core of a robust, nationwide movement to address the crisis in higher education – where the role of educators is increasingly low-wage and marginalized, despite tuition increases and growing endowments. The groundbreaking effort seeks to reinvest in the classroom, raise standards and improve stability through the Faculty Forward and Adjunct Action initiatives.

The Bentley adjunct faculty vote was conducted by mail, with ballots tabulated at the National Labor Relations Board office in Boston. Three-quarters of eligible faculty members participated in the election.