In April, adjuncts at Cayuga Community College got good news — the judge who had presided over their two day hearing last year at the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) ruled in favor of there being an “adjunct only” union at CCC, separate from the existing union for fulltime faculty. In her decision Judge Burritt wrote “‘There is no question that “[I]t is the policy of the Act to find appropriate the largest unit permitting effective negotiations.’ I find, however, that the adjunct faculty is appropriately placed in a separate unit from that of the full-time faculty, because of the significant conflicts that exist between part-time and full-time faculty which will prevent effective negotiations.”
It’s important to note that the only reason a judge had to make a ruling at all was because for close to a year, CCC Administration had been fighting their own employees’ efforts to form a union. Though the CCC administrators claimed their only interest was in determining the “most appropriate” union for adjuncts, all of their legal machinations are a thinly disguised strategy to delay the organizing efforts in the hopes that adjuncts will become so demoralized by the how long the process takes and/or how contentious it becomes, that they give up.
And we mention the Cayuga situation because we strongly believe that TC3 administration has been closely watching (and mimicking) their Cayuga counterparts ever since adjuncts at TC3 started organizing our union. That’s why the TC3 Administration refused to voluntarily recognize the TC3 Adjunct Association when we obtained majority status last October. That’s why the TC3 Administration tried to spread rumors and doubts about our majority status last November and December. That’s why the TC3 Administration refused to let PERB confirm our majority status and certify our union last January. And that’s why they insisted we go through a hearing similar to one that Cayuga adjuncts had gone through: it’s all about delay, it’s all about hoping that TC3 adjuncts will give up on forming a union.
Anyhow, our hearing, before Judge Kenneth Carlson from PERB, was held on June 11th and June 12th in Syracuse. Representatives of the TC3AA argued that we should be able to have our own union, separate from the existing union for fulltime faculty. Representatives of that union, the Tompkins Cortland Community College Faculty Association, also argued that we TC3 adjuncts should have their own union and not be forced to merge into theirs. TC3’s attorney from the Harris Beach law firm argued that the 250+ adjuncts at TC3 had enough in common with fulltime tenured faculty that the only way union representation for adjuncts could work at TC3 would be if adjuncts could merge into the Faculty Association.
All three parties at the hearing now have to submit legal briefs which will be due at the end of the summer. Then Judge Carlson will begin his deliberations, and will probably issue his ruling sometime in the Fall 2015 semester. We anticipate that his decision will mirror Judge Buritt’s, and that Judge Carlson will rule that adjuncts at TC3 should have their own union, separate from fulltime faculty. And if that happens, we hope that TC3 Administration will choose to take a higher road than their counterparts at Cayuga did when they appealed Judge Burritt’s ruling (that appeal is still pending, a decision is not likely to be issued until October at the earliest). We hope TC3 will respect Judge Carlson’s decision, refrain from wasting more money and personnel resources on further legal delays, recognize the TC3AA as the union for TC3’s adjuncts, and begin negotiations in good faith on a first collective bargaining agreement.