Ithaca, N.Y. — Part-time faculty at Ithaca College took two major steps in their push to form a union on Wednesday:

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1 — They filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board to join Adjunct Action, a part of the SEIU.

2 — They met with President Thomas Rochon and delivered a student petition with 660 signatures on it that asked the administration to remain neutral on the union.

“So far, the administration has been respectful of our democratic right to hold a union election, and has upheld its commitment to fair labor practices by remaining neutral. Now that we have filed for our election, we expect that the administration will continue to allow this process to unfold without interference,” Tom Schneller, a lecturer in Music Theory at Ithaca College, said in a news release.

In an interview outside of Rochon’s office on Ithaca College’s campus, two part-time faculty members said the administration had been supportive and that the meeting was productive.

Ithaca College also responded with the following statement: “Ithaca College supports its employees exercising their rights under the National Labor Relations Act to vote on whether or not they wish to be represented by a labor organization.  We firmly believe that a secret ballot election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board under established election procedures is the best way to determine whether a majority of employees wish to represented or not for purposes of collective bargaining.”

“We also believe that these voters should have the opportunity to hear, and express, all viewpoints, and should also have access to relevant information before they exercise their right to vote. If an election is conducted, we will support the provision of information to these employees so they can make an informed choice on this very important issue.”

Among the reasons IC’s part-time faculty are seeking a union, according to the news release:

— They teach on a course-by-course basis without assurance of reassignment from semester to semester.

— They are paid less per course than tenure-track teachers.

— They lack access to health care or retirement benefits.

— They are often not given office space and feel “disconnected from the college community.”

Six members of Ithaca’s Common Council and over 75 tenure and tenure track professors also expressed their support, according to the news release.

“Our part-time colleagues do the same work as we do – they prepare and teach classes, grade papers, meet with students but get a fraction of the compensation full time faculty get, with no chance of health insurance,” said Chip Gagnon, a professor of politics at IC, in a news release.

“A union for part-timers is long overdue, the only way to ensure justice and fairness for them. That in turn is also good for our students, and good for those of us fortunate enough to have full time faculty positions.”


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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.