Monthly Archives: November 2014
For the TC3 Adjunct Association, that’s the most relevant dictionary definition of “majority” we could find. As in “A majority (group that is the greater part) of the College’s adjunct faculty (the “large group” since 69.6% of all faculty teaching this semester are adjuncts) support union representation.”
We’ve been saying that for a little over a month now, ever since we formally notified President Carl Haynes that a majority of the employees the College considers current adjunct faculty had signed union authorization cards and we asked him to voluntarily recognize the TC3 Adjunct Association. The official rules of the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB), the state agency which oversees unions and employers in the public sector in New York, require that once a union requests voluntary recognition, the union must then give the employer 30 calendar days to consider the request before proceeding to the next step in the certification process. According to PERB rules, during that time the employer can grant voluntary recognition, or reject voluntary recognition, or ignore the request. If the employer ignores the request that can be a form of passive rejection since after 30 days a lack of employer acknowledgement morphs into a legal rejection.
For the past several weeks various College officials have been publically — and perhaps privately — doubting our word. So much so, that on Tuesday, November 18th (the 27th day of that 30 day period or three days before what would have become a passive rejection of voluntary recognition) the College took the highly unusual step of not only actively rejecting our request for voluntary recognition but of also sending out a press release about that decision.
College officials were very specific about their reason for the rejection. The College’s press release quoted John Connors, TC3’s Vice President and Provost, as explaining, “President Haynes, in rejecting the request to recognize the proposed TC3 Adjunct Association, is not convinced that the majority of adjunct faculty members support this organizing effort… Given these doubts, it would be irresponsible for the college to move forward, when doing so would perhaps be against the will of the majority.” In answer to a Cortland Standard reporter’s question about why President Haynes had summarily turned down a local elected official’s offer to act as a third party and count the cards to confirm whether or not we had majority support, Dr. Connors implied that the offer (which was made on Friday, November 14th) had come too late and that it was made only after the College had already decided not to grant voluntary recognition.
Too late? The College didn’t even send out its letter of rejection to the Union until Monday. If the rejection was based — as Dr. Connors claimed — on concerns about our majority status, why not welcome an opportunity to clear that up once and for all?
Well, we’ve taken care of that.
Earlier this week we asked Reverend Richard Rose, pastor of Ithaca’s First Baptist Church, to examine the original cards and compare them to the list of 258 current adjuncts which TC3 had provided to us earlier this month in response to our request under the Freedom of Information Act. Here’s what Reverend Rose said, “After carefully comparing the names on the original signed cards against the list of eligible employees the employer provided to the union, there is no question in my mind that in the last three months a majority of TC3’s adjuncts have signed cards expressing their desire for union representation. I would hope that today I have at least been able to provide reassurance to college President Haynes and TC3’s trustees that they no longer need be concerned that accepting the union would somehow be against the will of the majority of their adjunct faculty. It is clear to me that by opposing the union the college would be acting against the will of the majority.”
So what happens now? Nothing precludes Dr. Haynes from changing his mind and deciding the College should voluntarily recognize the union. But barring that, the next step in PERB’s official process is already underway. The cards and accompanying requisite paperwork (called a “Petition for Certification“) should arrive at PERB’s Albany offices by the end of the week.
Since a majority of current adjuncts have signed cards (as Reverend Rose recently affirmed and PERB will easily be able to confirm), the TC3AA should be eligible for certification without an election. That’s because, according to PERB rules, elections are held when there are two or more unions seeking to represent the same group of employees or when a single union is seeking representation but does not have majority support on cards. PERB rules clearly state, “…the employee organization involved will be certified without an election if a majority of the employees within the unit have indicated their choice…by individual designation cards which have been executed within six months prior to the date of the director’s decision recommending certification without an election.”
So, to repeat the message that more than than forty adjuncts and supporters from Cortland and Tompkins counties delivered at last week’s Board of Trustees meeting: Once our majority status has been confirmed, we urge the College to take the high road, respect our decision, and not waste taxpayer money on legal fights against their own employees in an effort to delay or derail PERB’s certification of the TC3 Adjunct Association.”
Despite the increasing intensity of the snow falling above, and the deteriorating conditions of the roads below, more than forty TC3 adjuncts and supporters from Cortland and Tompkins counties braved the weather last night to make a point at this month’s Board of Trustees meeting.
Their point? 69 POINT 6. As in, 69.6% of the instructors teaching classes this semester are adjuncts. That’s right, adjuncts (who also are responsible for teaching the majority of the classes this semester) comprise more than two thirds of the current faculty at TC3.
There was more.
Despite confusing (and often conflicting) information released from the TC3 administration over the last few weeks, TC3AA members and supporters wanted to make it clear to the Board of Trustees that a majority of current adjunct faculty have indeed chosen to be represented by the TC3 Adjunct Association and how the election TC3 management has proposed is not consistent with the rules of the Public Employees Relations Board (PERB) nor even necessary. Pat Sewell, an adjunct faculty member of Environmental Studies, detailed how adjuncts have already voted and explained precisely how the process and results were far more democratic and representational of current TC3 adjuncts’ choice than any PERB election could be. Other adjunct faculty and community supporters also addressed the Board during the public comments portion of the agenda to reassure the College that an adjunct union is a positive step forward, not something to fear.
The underlying theme of the evening was urging President Haynes and the Board of Trustees not to waste taxpayer money fighting their own employees. Our challenge to them? We urge the Board to publically commit that once a neutral third party has confirmed that a majority of adjuncts teaching this semester have indeed signed union authorization cards, the College will not take any further legal action in an attempt to delay or derail the Public Employment Relations Board from speedily completing the formal certification process of the TC3 Adjunct Association.
After the public portions of the meeting, the BOT was scheduled to hold a private executive session to discuss the adjunct unionization.
We hope their discussion last night was fruitful and they chose to take the high road and commit to respect the decision of their employees.
We look forward to hearing from them soon.
We just learned this morning that President Carl Haynes has apparently decided to reject the TC3 Adjunct Association’s request for voluntary recognition. TC3 issued a press release about this decision at approximately 9:45 this morning. Please note that in no way does that change our intention to address the Board of Trustees later this week.
With three longstanding existing unions on campus we must assume that TC3 Administration is aware of the rules of the Public Employment Relations Board (the government entity that oversees unions and employers in the public sector in New York State) and knows full well that an election is unnecessary when a union, such as the TC3 Adjunct Association, has obtained majority support on union authorization cards.
To be crystal clear: a strong majority of the 258 employees who appeared on the list of current adjuncts that the Administration provided to us have signed authorization cards stating their desire for union representation. Many of those adjuncts were reluctant to add their names to the public list of union supporters. PERB’s rules do not require any worker to publically state their support for unionization. The fact that 100+ adjuncts agreed to add their names to the Union’s public message to President Haynes and the Board of Trustees doesn’t indicate a lack of majority status. Quite the contrary! It shows that nearly 40% of current adjuncts at TC3 did not merely sign union cards, but that they were also willing to let their employer (and the world) know they had done so.
It’s a rather silly thing for abstract quibbling about anyhow since there’s an easy way to confirm TC3AA’s majority status. Last week, in fact, after reports about the Administration’s concerns that TC3AA does not have majority backing of current adjuncts first started appearing in various news stories, we attempted to alleviate these concerns by trying to find a neutral third party who would be willing to check the actual cards against the list provided by the College of current adjunct faculty to confirm that TC3AA does indeed have a majority. A local elected official was willing to assist and reached out to President Haynes who summarily rejected the offer.
It’s actually not too late for the College to change its mind. Perhaps even more importantly at this point, it’s not too late for the College to assure everyone that it has no intention of trying to delay or derail their employees’ legally protected right to form a union. We urge President Haynes to make a public commitment that when the Public Employment Relations Board does (as it will) confirm that TC3AA has majority status, the College will not stand in the way of PERB officially certifying the union so we can proceed to negotiations and begin to address the real issues at hand — regular and reasonable pay increases, a modicum of job security such as multi-term appointments, and access to affordable benefits (like health insurance) for adjuncts who need them — all of which will benefit not only adjuncts but our students and the entire institution as well as it will help enable the College to continue attracting and retaining the most qualified and dedicated adjuncts for years to come.
As the group of employees who are responsible for teaching the majority of the courses at TC3 we are as deserving of the same level of respect as that enjoyed by every other employee at the College.
So, yes, please join us to remind the Board and Administration this Thursday that respecting adjuncts’ decision to form a union is a basic manifestation of the respect that ALL employees at TC3 should be afforded.
This Friday, November 21st, will mark the 30th day since we informed President Haynes that a majority of TC3’s adjuncts have signed authorization cards indicating their desire for union representation and the 30th day since we requested that the College “voluntarily recognize” the TC3 Adjunct Association. On the eve of the 30th day — at 5:30pm this Thursday, November 20th — TC3’s Board of Trustees will hold its next regular monthly meeting (open to the public) and…. YOU are invited! We’ll meet up first, at 5:15pm, in the Fireside Café, on the first floor of the Main Building on the Dryden campus (closest parking is in Lot #4) and then proceed together to the Board meeting in the Sprole Boardroom (Room 200, near the Empire State wing of the building) with the goal of arriving a few minutes before the 5:30pm start time. The Trustees plan to discuss the union in an executive session immediately following the regular meeting so if you are a member of the TC3 community or a resident of Tompkins or Cortland county please join us for this important opportunity to let the Trustees know we want them to respect the decision of the majority of TC3 adjuncts. Earlier today President Haynes informed the Union that he would not voluntarily recognize the TC3AA. While disappointing, that is the College’s legal right. However, what made the rejection more disappointing (and somewhat disturbing) was the assertion by President Haynes (later repeated in a repeated in a press release issued by the College) that the Administration has doubts as to our majority status. It’s odd since last week, as media coverage of the TC3AA started picking up (like in The Ithacan, The Lansing Star, 870 WHCU, and 14850, to name a few) we started hearing of TC3 Administration’s that about whether or not we have achieved majority support amongst TC3 adjuncts. For example, in an article that appeared in last week’s edition of The Ithacan, one member of TC3’s administration is quoted as saying, “If the union is going to come into existence, we want to be confident that it is supported by the majority of people it wants to represent.” Apparently this same administrator also told the Ithacan reporter that the fact that only 100+ adjuncts had signed on to a public letter of support was in and of itself cause for concern since those adjuncts do not constitute a majority of the 250’ish adjuncts teaching this semester at TC3. We guess it’s not as obvious as we thought but not every adjunct who signed a union authorization card was willing to announce to Administration (let alone the world) that they had done so. But, WHEW, it’s not every day we get an opportunity to clear up a misconception so easily! We certainly DO have a strong majority (in fact, we have a strong majority even of the somewhat inflated list that TC3 provided to us which included several managers who would not be eligible for union representation). All that’s needed is to count the cards in a way that confirms our majority status but does not violate our commitment to respect the wishes of the many adjuncts who are reluctant to publically state that they signed a union authorization card. A local elected official was willing to help us out by acting as a neutral third party and comparing the names on the signed union authorization cards to the names on TC3’s list to confirm that a majority of the adjuncts listed on TC3’s list did indeed sign a union authorization card. But on Friday, President Haynes summarily rejected the local elected official’s offer. The offer still stands and we’ll make it again to the Board of Trustees on Thursday. Though technically it’s not to late for President Haynes and the Board to change their mind and agree to voluntary recognition, the second “highest road” they can take is to agree that when PERB confirms our majority status and then seeks to certify the TC3AA that the College will not then waste taxpayer money by engaging in any legal challenges in an effort to derail or delay our decision to form a union.
Questions? Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org