ITHACA, NY – Early last month, full-time non-tenure-track faculty at Ithaca College announced their intention to unionize and ultimately join the bargaining unit formed by their part-time colleagues last year.

The college chose not to remain neutral, which meant that the faculty members seeking to join the union needed to apply to the National Labor Relations Board so that they can hold an official, certifiable vote.

In a press release on Tuesday, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) announced that IC’s contingent full-time faculty voted to join SEIU Local 200 United as part of Faculty Forward, describing the victory as overwhelming.

“Now that we have voted to form a union for full-time contingent faculty, our next goal is to join our part-time colleagues already at the bargaining table and negotiate one contract with our administration.  We believe that as one group of contingent faculty, we can negotiate for a stronger academic program for both faculty and students,” said Rachel Gunderson, Instructor in Health Promotion and Physical Education in the news release.

Shoshe Cole, Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy_ Rachel Gunderson, Instructor in Health Promotion and Physical Education. (Provided photo.)

In a previous statement, IC’s administration said that the college respects the right of its faculty to decide whether or not they wish to be represented by an external third party in all matters of their employment, but also believes that direct communication is the best way to work together to find solutions to any issues presented by contingent faculty.

The statement also indicated the college’s position that it is not appropriate for contingent faculty to be part of that same bargaining unit with the part-time faculty.

The full-time contingent faculty, however, believe that they share common issues with the part-time faculty at IC.

Speaking as a member Ithaca College’s part-time contingent faculty negotiating committee, part-time lecturer in Writing, Rachel Kaufman added, “We support our full-time contingent colleagues one-hundred percent in joining us at the bargaining table to negotiate one contract for full-time and part-time contingent faculty.  As contingent faculty, we share many of the same concerns around faculty continuity, job security and inclusion in the academic community and we share the same vision for an equitable Ithaca College that puts faculty and students first.”

According to SEIU organizer Zere Perkins, it is up to the college to accept the two groups as a collective bargaining unit.

Ithaca College released the following statement:

As Ithaca College has previously stated, we remain committed to working in partnership with all of our faculty within a system of shared governance to best serve the educational needs of our students.
It also remains the college’s position that our full-time contingent faculty not be included in the same bargaining unit as our part-time and adjunct faculty, as those groups are separate and distinct.
Once the National Labor Relations Board has certified the results of the unionization election by the contingent faculty, the college will bargain in good faith with representatives from those faculty and the Service Employees International Union.
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Michael Smith

Michael Smith reports on politics and local news for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached via email at msmith@ithacavoice.com, by cell at (607) 229-0885, or via Google Voice at (518) 650-3639.