This was our movement in 2016

My name is Cheryl. A couple weeks ago, my colleagues and I voted to form a union with SEIU after a two-year journey. Our win was the first for the Faculty Forward campaign in Florida, or at a public university in the South, but we know it won’t be the last.

I’m writing today,  as yet another year draws to a close, to thank you for the work you do for your students, to share some good news, and celebrate 2016 — for in a year of ups and downs in our country, our movement has soared to new heights.

The victory at the University of Hartford last week marked nearly 20 victories for faculty in 13 states who formed unions with SEIU in 2016. I didn’t want to leave anyone out so here’s the list:

Wells College
Loyola University Chicago
University of Southern California
St. Charles Community College
Duke University
Boston University
Holy Names University
Saint Louis University
Ithaca College
Goucher College
Notre Dame de Namur University
St. Martin’s University
McDaniel College
Seattle University
Minnesota College of Art and Design
Augsburg College
Hillsborough Community College
University of Hartford

Now, I and over 5,000 other part-time and full-time faculty members now have the right to sit down with their employer and negotiate for better pay, benefits and a voice on campus.

Having won our union a month ago, I’m so excited to start a new year after seeing the highlights from St. Rose, Washington University in St. Louis, Northeastern, Hamline, Champlain, and Boston University that include better pay and job security.

Our movement has expanded exponentially since adjunct faculty in the DC and Boston areas decided to stand together and form unions a few years ago. This past year graduate students across the country have moved to join our union, and in the past month, graduate workers at Duke and Loyola University Chicago have filed for a union election.

But despite all the progress we have made on campus, we cannot gloss over the fact that our nation faces an uncertain 2017. Our union has shown that we are ready to fight for justice on all fronts. At public universities, faculty, students and our ally organization the Faculty Forward Network are uniting to take our colleges back from corporate-minded administrators and politicians.

We’ve put ourselves on the line, even taking arrest, to show solidarity with the Fight for 15 in cities across the country. Now more than ever we have to remain vigilant in support of our students who need our support and protection of the campus community. That’s why we have fought to hold for-profits universities accountable for scams against students and will stand in the way when and if faculty and students are under threat from the new administration.

I’m proud to help build our SEIU Campus Justice campaign. Let’s adopt a New Year’s Resolution that we will work to make our higher education movement an unstoppable force!


Cheryl DeFlavis, Hillsborough Community College