Fordham non-tenure track faculty and administration sign landmark agreement to hold a fair union election

Great news! Fordham Faculty United has reached an agreement with Fordham University administration for a free and fair union election process! With this breakthrough, Fordham faculty have the opportunity to join thousands of faculty nationally who have joined together in SEIU in the past few years. Since May, the Fordham administration and SEIU Local 200United have worked cooperatively to develop a fair election policy and have agreed to Fall election dates set by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

“This is a great day,” said Fordham adjunct Chris Brandt. “We will at last have a union election, and the Fordham administration has agreed to remain neutral, which will allow us to have a free voice in our election. This milestone has been reached through hard work, and through the solidarity of the university’s full-time faculty, and especially of the students. Our agreement should serve as a reminder to all workers about what they can accomplish by standing together. For us, the adjunct and contingent faculty, it will mean we can demand transparency and accountability from the university in our negotiations with the administration.”

Since 2013, faculty at more than a dozen Jesuit and Catholic-affiliated colleges have formed a union with SEIU. Many Catholic and Jesuit universities have remained neutral in union elections and successfully bargained with faculty. In following established Jesuit principles, Fordham University avoids a damaging campus issue that inevitably pits the university community against administrative efforts to undermine the faculty’s right to a union.

In a letter to the Fordham community in May, Fordham President Father Joseph McShane said, “… we have initiated discussion with the union over the University adopting a stance of neutrality regarding the organization of our adjunct faculty. I have become convinced of the rightness of this course of action over the last few months by conversations with my fellow Jesuits. After all, organized labor has deep roots in Catholic social justice teachings. And though this is an issue that many universities are facing—not all of which have come to the same decision—given its Jesuit traditions and historic connection to first-generation and working-class students, Fordham has a special duty in this area.”

The Fordham agreement may serve as a model for other religiously-affiliated employers who commit to working in good faith to advance the Jesuit tradition of social justice. Hannah Jopling teaches Anthropology at Fordham. She said, “We are pleased that the university recognizes the need to implement socially just employment practices for its dedicated faculty. We hope our campaign can inspire contingent faculty and administrators at other universities to work together for the betterment of the entire community.”

SEIU President Mary Kay Henry praised the agreement by saying, “As a Catholic, I feel privileged to lead an organization that is committed to fighting for economic, racial, social and environmental justice. On behalf of the 2 million members of SEIU, I want to commend Fordham University President Father Joseph McShane for his leadership and Fordham Faculty United for sticking together and creating a respectful process that will allow contingent faculty to make a free and fair decision to unionize. SEIU has long standing, deep and productive relationships with Catholic organizations in healthcare and education sectors. I am very proud of our collaborative work with faith-based employers at the bargaining table, within the institutions and in the corridors of political power. Fordham University joins other Jesuit colleges and universities such as Georgetown University, Loyola University Chicago, St. Louis University and other Catholic colleges as institutional leaders committed to their mission, providing high quality education and respecting their campus faculty, staff and other workers.”