Non-tenured Duke faculty agree on first contract after forming union
- Approximately 275 non-tenured part-time and full-time faculty at Duke University have reached a tentative agreement as a result of their first contract brokered as a union, according to The News & Observer, and the new deal includes salary increases and multi-year teaching appointments.
- Faculty said the deal was acceptable and also gave them a new feeling of "belonging" on campus, and the Service Employees International Union says the deal is the first faculty union contract at a major private university in the South. The union’s bargaining unit will be voting on whether to ratify through the end of the month.
- The non-tenured faculty at Duke first voted to form a union in March 2016, the first time in decades that there had been a union election at a private university located in the South, and faculty at some universities in Florida and Tennessee are also working to form unions.
Colleges and universities have faced increased pressure from non-tenured faculty endeavoring to form unions, as well as attempts by graduate students to increase their own bargaining power through union formation. Additionally, some states, particularly California, are moving forward on legislative protections for adjunct faculty. The Golden State’s proposed legislation from last summer would classify adjunct faculty with at least six semesters of solid performance reviews as attaining seniority, granting them certain benefits.
With the increased pushes toward faculty unionization on campuses, school presidents and administrators are faced with difficult options on how to proceed. Unionized contracts will likely put a greater strain on college budgets, but school leaders should also consider that conditions may not be as favorable if adjunct faculty attain unionization via negative publicity for the college. It may be better for presidents to be proactive if unionization becomes a possibility on campus, as it could lead to a deal that feels equitable for both parties.
Additionally, college presidents need to consider the dangers of losing highly-qualified professors and adjuncts if more college campuses start unionizing, as professors may flee non-unionized campuses for better salaries and benefits.
- The News & Observer Duke faculty members win big raises in historic union agreement