On October 20, a hearing officer with the National Labor Relations Board issued a decision that all ballots must be counted in the election to form a union of non-tenured faculty at Vanderbilt University. The decision, which could still be appealed by the employer and must still be approved by the NLRB’s Regional Director, gets NTT faculty in the college of Arts & Science one step closer to forming their union.
“We call on the administration to accept the NLRB hearing officer’s decision and begin negotiating with us in good faith,” says Heraldo Falconi, a senior lecturer at Vanderbilt. “We have lawfully completed the steps required for union certification and it’s time to get started negotiating a clear set of policies and guidelines that’s consistent for all non-tenure track employees.”
In June, non-tenured faculty voted to be represented by SEIU Local 205, but the election could not be certified because a number of the ballots were challenged by the university. Based on thorough evidence presented at an NLRB hearing this summer, which included testimony by 15 witnesses, the hearing officer rejected the employer’s effort to exclude some faculty from the union’s bargaining unit and recommended that all ballots be counted. In the raw numbers cast in June, a majority of voters elected to form a union.
“Participation in the election was high, and all agree that it was fairly conducted,” said senior lecturer Amy Cooter. “The people have spoken, and so has the law. It is time to move forward.”
“This is a major milestone, not just for NTT faculty, but also for our tenured and tenure-track colleagues and the students we educate,” explains Terrie Spetalnick, a lecturer. “Forming our union will give us a voice in matters that affect us and help ensure fair and transparent processes.”
State and Metro elected officials, local faith and community leaders, and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders have all spoken in support of the faculty’s right to form a union. Vanderbilt has until November 2 to appeal the decision of the NLRB hearing officer.
The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) unites 2 million diverse members in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. SEIU Local 205 represents workers in the public and private sector across the great state of Tennessee.