Frequently Asked Questions
What is Faculty Forward?
Faculty Forward is a nationwide movement of faculty members, graduate student workers, students, families and community members. We are uniting to demand good stable jobs with fair wages and benefits for all faculty and graduate teaching assistants and affordable, accessible, quality higher education for all students. Through Faculty Forward, nearly 54,000 faculty on 60 campuses have formed unions and joined students and community members to challenge the status quo of poor working conditions, student debt and limited access in higher education.
Faculty Forward is a project of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which represents 120,000 members in public and private higher education in the United States—40,000 of which are college and university employees. Overall, SEIU is home to roughly 2 million members in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.
Why are we organizing?
Higher pay. Job security. An end to student debt. Quality higher education for all. These are just a few reasons why faculty, graduate student workers and communities are organizing to transform higher education.
Since the ’80s, politicians have slashed funding for higher education. Desperate to keep the doors open, universities hired high-priced executive administrators who turned college into big business. They hiked tuition, cut tenure track positions and decreased faculty pay, all while pocketing handsome paychecks. The result is a rigged system where only a select few get access to a quality education and too many educators live in poverty.
We know that in order to change this broken system, we need to come together and use our collective power. By joining a union, faculty and graduate student workers can speak in one strong voice for the changes we need to improve our working conditions and help students succeed. When students, parents, community members and educators speak out together, we can transform the flawed higher education system.
I’m a student or community member who wants to see change in higher education, but am not employed by a college or university. How can I join the movement?We know that in order to fix the broken higher education system and the problematic funding structure behind it, we must all come together to demand change. Across the country, we’re fighting for debt-free, accessible college, and inclusive campuses where all people (regardless of race, nationality, immigration status, sexuality, gender, religion, sex or class) can to thrive.
Who will be in charge of our union?We — the adjunct, faculty and graduate worker members — embody and control every aspect of our union. As members of SEIU, we are our union and are committed to working with faculty across the nation to build a powerful organization that gives contingent faculty a real voice in higher education.
What will a union mean for me in real terms?Forming a union enables contingent faculty to negotiate collectively for better terms of employment, using democratic processes to ensure that the interests of all non-tenure track faculty are represented. A union contract will establish a floor for what constitutes fair treatment and compensation, not a ceiling. At present, there is a ceiling, but no floor.
Am I allowed to voice my opinion on unionization?Yes. Federal law protects your right to organize for union representation. Under the National Labor Relations Act, you have the right to talk to your fellow faculty in the workplace about your views on unionization, organize with your coworkers to make your collective views known, attend meetings to discuss the benefits of union representation and to distribute information to your coworkers about the union. It is against the law for an employer to threaten, coerce or retaliate against you for exercising these legal rights in the workplace.
What have faculty at other schools gained by forming a union?Across the country, faculty who have organized with SEIU have seen significant gains in wages, benefits, job security, and professional development resources. Nationally, the average pay per course is 25% higher for faculty in SEIU unions. You can read more about specific victories here.