BOSTON – Full-time ‘Core’ faculty at Lesley University voted “Union Yes” today, with nearly 60% casting their ballots to join Faculty Forward – a project of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 509. The vote marks the fifth faculty union victory in as many months, with more than 3,000 Boston-area educators now joined in a shared effort to improve their profession and the overall quality of higher education through unionization. Lesley adjunct faculty voted to join FacultyForward/SEIU in February 2014.
“Today’s vote represents an opportunity for real change at Lesley – to make our university a better place to teach and learn,” said Dalia Llera, who has taught Counseling and Psychology for more than two decades at Lesley. “Together with our adjunct colleagues, we will finally be able to pursue the classroom investments we know are so important to the learning experience.”
With today’s 81-56 vote, full-time Core faculty join more than 700 adjunct colleagues at Lesley University – as well as those at Northeastern, Tufts, BU and Bentley – in forming unions through SEIU Local 509. Lesley adjuncts ratified their first union contract earlier this month – making significant gains around compensation, working conditions and educators’ role in decision-making. They follow Tufts part-time lecturers, who signed a landmark contract in October last year. Contingent faculty at Northeastern are actively engaged in contract negotiations, with union organizing efforts underway at Brandeis.
“Through a strong union contract, I believe we can make real progress for both educators and students at Lesley,” said Angelica Pinna-Perez, an assistant professor in Lesley’s Expressive Therapies division. “By standing together, we will use our collective voice, experience and diversity to make our university all that it can and should be.”
Greater Boston’s contingent faculty form the core of a robust, nationwide movement to address the crisis in higher education – where the role of educators is increasingly low-wage and marginalized, despite tuition increases and growing endowments. The groundbreaking effort seeks to reinvest in the classroom, raise standards and improve stability through the Faculty Forward and Adjunct Action initiatives.
The Lesley Core faculty vote was conducted by mail, with ballots tabulated at the National Labor Relations Board office in Boston. More than 85% of eligible faculty members participated in the election.
SEIU Local 509 represents more than 18,000 human service workers and educators throughout the commonwealth, including 3,000 part- and full-time faculty in the Greater Boston area. SEIU 509 members provide a variety of social services to elders, at-risk children and people with mental illnesses or developmental disabilities — as well as educational opportunities from early learning to higher education. Local 509 is part of the Service Employees International Union, the fastest-growing labor union in the United States. For more information, visit http://seiu509.org.
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