Please afford me just three minutes of your valuable time.
I am non-tenure track (NTT) faculty member in the Department of Leadership, Policy and Organizations, a Faculty Senator, and the former Chair of the Peabody Faculty Council. In my current role as Vice-Chair of the Faculty Senate, I have invested significant time and effort toward understanding the issues surrounding unionization efforts by the SEIU. After literally hundreds of conversations with our non-tenure track colleagues, I have come to the following conclusions:
- Inviting SEIU representation is likely to cause a permanent schism among our faculty, which will weaken our collaborative culture and have many unintended consequences. For example, non-tenure track faculty members would risk the strength of our autonomy and position within the University.
- SEIU representation will almost certainly affect the benefits of all faculty members, likely to the detriment of those who stand to lose the most. In so doing, non-tenure track faculty members will be cast into a multi-year bargaining process that will restart the benefits of all faculty in the bargaining unit, regardless of length of service.
- The SEIU grossly misunderstands the professional realities of faculty and seems uninterested in learning. They are a union that represents factory and food service workers and they seem unable (or unwilling) to advocate for policies with the level of nuance required of the academic profession.
- Sadly, the SEIU and Union organizers failed to consult, at any time, with the Faculty Senate or other faculty governance bodies. And they continue to mislead our community that non-tenure track faculty members are not represented in the governance structures of the University.
Here are facts that the SEIU wants you to ignore:
1) Twenty-two of the elected members of The Faculty Senate are non-tenure track.
2) Five of the six members of the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate are non-tenure track.
3) Roughly half of Faculty Senate committees and task forces are chaired or co-chaired by non-tenure track faculty members.
4) Non-tenure track faculty members continue to make increasingly important contributions to the Councils and Committees that form our robust faculty governance structure.
5) According to the best available data (the COACHE faculty survey) Vanderbilt non-tenure track faculty members have the highest levels of confidence in their abilities to influence institutional decision-making, across 35 of 36 dimensions of university and academic program governance.
Please believe – based on our proven track record of effective policy reform – that if there are specific issues that non-tenure track or part-time faculty wish to address to the Faculty Senate or Faculty Councils, we will work tirelessly to address those issues AS YOUR FELLOW FACULTY MEMBERS. But we can only do so if you vote NO to SEIU representation.
Please join us in rejecting faculty governance takeover by the SEIU, and together we’ll continue to forge our own path toward shared prosperity for all Vanderbilt faculty.
For more information, please visit us at www.OurVanderbilt.org
Brian L. Heuser