Lesley University Adjunct Faculty Ratify First Union Contract

Adjunct faculty at Lesley University in Boston overwhelmingly ratified their first union contract yesterday – a three-year agreement that makes significant progress in job and income stability, professional development, and the faculty role in university decisions. Ninety-six percent of voting members voted to ratify the contract. The vote caps off a year-long effort by more than 700 contingent educators on the Cambridge-based campus, who voted to join Faculty Forward – a project of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 509.

The contract ratification vote marks the latest milestone in the growing faculty union movement, with more than 3,000 Boston-area educators now joined in a shared effort to improve their profession and the overall quality of higher education through unionization. Contingent faculty in “America’s College Town” have racked up an impressive series of contract victories in recent months, netting major gains around compensation and working conditions at Tufts University. Contract negotiations at Northeastern University are ongoing, with sessions set to begin at Boston University and Bentley in the coming months.

Among the major gains in the three-year Lesley University contract:

  • Fair Pay that Values Teaching: Most Adjunct Faculty will receive a 33% increase in per-course pay over the next three years – with an increase of up to 18% for those teaching studio courses.
  • Job Security: Adjunct Faculty who teach three courses per year over a four-year period will now receive two-year appointments, along with enhanced benefits – including a contribution to their retirement plan and tuition remission for courses taught at Lesley.
  • Inclusion in the Lesley Community: Adjunct faculty will now have an elevated voice in decisions that impact educators and their students – including formal representation in both the University Council and Faculty Assembly.
  • Professional Development Fund: Lesley Adjunct Faculty will have access to funding to support research, scholarship, civic engagement, and professional and artistic practice that contribute to the learning experience on campus.

Adjunct Norah Dooley hailed the agreement as a major victory for faculty and students at Lesley.

“This contract is a start towards turning this university away from corporate values and back to human and academic values that honor the work of all,” said Dooley, a member of the union bargaining committee. “This contract shows a path towards recognizing the truth that teachers and teacher are at the center of learning at Lesley University.”