University tries to nip professors’ union in the bud

Lauren Williams's picture

What does a research university in Boston have in common with the corporations Pfizer, Cablevision and IBM?

They hire the same union-buster. According to Adjunct Action, a project of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Northeastern University has retained Jackson Lewis, a law firm used by major corporations to thwart employee organizing efforts. The AFL-CIO calls the New York-based firm “the number one union-buster in America.” The move could signal intensified efforts by university administrations to defeat organizing drives among contingent faculty, which have been gaining momentum in several cities.

Adjunct Action has had modest success so far in its efforts to unionize non-tenure-track faculty at private colleges across Boston, which it began this spring. Part-time faculty at Bentley University and Tufts Colleges have already filed for union elections, which will be held this fall. Adjuncts at Northeastern have formed an organizing committee and other schools are well on their way, say union organizers.

Last week, part-time employees at Northeastern received a memorandum from Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Stephen W. Director. The memo, obtained by In These Times, says that “some part-time faculty members have expressed concern about what they have described as intrusive behavior” by union organizers and assures faculty “that Northeastern University has not divulged your contact information to union organizers.”

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