Updates from our Tufts Part-Time Faculty Union | September 2016
Welcome all to the 2016-2017 academic year. We have a lot of news, particularly because our bargaining unit dramatically expanded with Tufts’s acquisition of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA), because of our union’s ongoing programs and progress, and because our first Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) expires on June 30, 2017, and we will soon begin working on proposals for our second Agreement.

The merger of the Museum School into Tufts University brought about 65 additional Part-time Faculty into our bargaining unit, who now constitute over 25% of our membership. WELCOME! This is a positive development that expands and strengthens our union and adds some certainty to the future of the Museum School, but it will require all of us to address the associated issues of integration and adjustment that it entails. In addition, our union must adapt to the needs and preferences of a new cohort with a different institutional culture and history in a fine arts instructional context.   

Negotiators from the university administration, Museum School Faculty representatives, and SEIU Local 509 met in June to reach a Memorandum of Understanding, which will serve as the template for the formal integration of Part-time Museum School Faculty into our bargaining unit and eventually into our overall Agreement, gaining access to the benefits that we have won.

In mid-August we had a productive joint meeting with volunteers from the Museum School, and we are actively recruiting more Museum Schoolers to serve as union representatives and to play other roles in the union as we reorganize to expand our internal structures. For example, we are replenishing our set of representatives and our representatives to the Lecturer University (Labor-Management) Committee, which we anticipate will be expanded to include a SMFA Faculty rep. Please volunteer for these opportunities!

With respect to the Professional Development Fund in Arts and Sciences, most readers will know that we completely exhausted the $25,000 that was allotted to PT Faculty last year, putting us in good standing to continue to use these funds this year and to bargain for the Fund’s renewal and expansion in upcoming negotiations. A lot of this success is owed to member-activist Christine Cousineau of Urban and Environmental Planning, who expertly guided the PDF application process on behalf of our members, so impressing the administrators with whom she collaborated that she was recruited to a full time position. We want to thank Christine and congratulate her on her new role as Tufts Arts and Sciences Associate Director for Faculty Hiring and Work / Life. Many thanks and best of luck, Christine, see you ‘round the campus and around town!

Our second CBA: As mentioned above, our current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires at the end of next June. That means that we need to negotiate for a new contract to go into effect in the 2017-2018 Academic Year. Accordingly, we will be going through a process much like the one carried out several years ago. This fall we will be organizing multiple forums on the Medford Campus and at the Museum School where members can talk about the positive and other aspects of working at both campuses, and how our work life can be improved through collective bargaining. The results of these forums will inform those who volunteer to participate on our new negotiating committee. We hope to have a clear set of proposals and to open bargaining on our new contract in January 2017.   

Faculty at Tufts
We hope to improve our communications with a number of groups at Tufts with whom we share interests. Among our teaching colleagues, these include the Full-time Lecturers Union and Tenured and Tenure-stream Faculty. We organized our union in the face of a rigidly vertical and hierarchical conception of Faculty roles in the context of which we were being treated unfairly and disrespectfully. When we introduced our first contract proposal to the administration, we presented a vision of “One Faculty ─ Moving Past a Caste System.” We continue to believe that much more unites us than divides us, and our ongoing communication with other Faculty will help move us in the direction of unity. Full-time Lecturers in Arts and Sciences overwhelmingly approved a landmark first union contract over the summer, and they are now beginning the process of setting up a leadership structure that will enable them to effectively monitor and enforce their new contract. We look forward to collaborating together on issues of mutual concern in the coming years.
Other Workers at Tufts
We have benefited from the solidarity of dedicated student allies in the Tufts Labor Coalition (TLC), and we need to increase our ties to them and to other groups of organized and unorganized University and contract employees, including janitors, grounds personnel, and construction workers, as well as administrative staff and food service workers. Accordingly, we hope to coordinate more closely with the TLC and open up mutually-supportive channels of communication with our fellow Tufts workers.

Other Local Universities 
The National Labor Relations Board recently ruled that graduate student employees (GSEs) at private universities have the right to form unions. Accordingly, the SEIU Local 509 Higher Education Chapter to which we belong will soon be opening organizing campaigns among GSEs in the greater Boston area. We support ALL teaching Faculty for a number of reasons, among them that we perform similar tasks and work in the same labor market, so we must support each other to improve compensation and working conditions for all. In addition, the Local is engaged in an ongoing campaign to organize online faculty at area universities. It is important to organize those working with this new technology, which some universities have used as a means of increasing Faculty workload and reducing compensation, arguably decreasing the quality of instruction. Finally, Part-time Faculty are continuing to negotiate for their first contract at Brandeis University, as are “Core” Faculty at Lesley and Full-time non-tenure stream Faculty at BU. We strongly support them all and stand ready to respond if called to act in their (and our own) interests. We are fully aware that since we began organizing around Boston, several universities have stalled in negotiations and only bargained seriously when faced with the possibility of job action and public solidarity activities.

Fight for Fifteen
The Fight for $15 as a national minimum wage, and in particular as a minimum wage in the fast food industry, has caught fire. Who would have believed a few years ago that states and municipalities around the country would adopt a $15 minimum wage as they have done, or that the minimum wage would become an important item on the national agenda, including in the primaries for the Democratic Party nomination for president? Our national union, the SEIU, is a major sponsor of this movement. The next National Day of Action in the Fight for 15 will be on Saturday, September 10, and we will be joining thousands of others to demand “15 and a union” on Boston Common at 1 PM. No one working full time in the United States should be living in poverty, nor should their children!

Please volunteer for any of the activities mentioned above by contacting  Carley Russell at crussell@seiu509.org.
SEIU Local 509 / Faculty Forward MA 
293 Boston Post Rd W, Marlborough, MA 01752