“The Group or Party That is the Greater Part of a Large Group”
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.”