Lesley Adjunct Faculty Overwhelmingly Ratify First Union Contract

Alongside faculty victories at Tufts and Emerson, major contract gains set national precedent in compensation, job security and campus inclusion

CAMBRIDGE – An overwhelming 96% of participating adjunct faculty at Lesley University voted to ratify their first union contract today – a three-year agreement that makes significant progress in job and income stability, professional development, and the faculty role in university decisions. The vote caps off a year-long effort by more than 700 contingent educators on the Cambridge-based campus, who voted to join Faculty Forward – a project of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 509 – in a landside election in February 2014.
The contract ratification vote marks the latest milestone in the growing faculty union movement, 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. Contingent faculty in “America’s College Town” have racked up an impressive series of contract victories in recent months, netting major gains around compensation and working conditions at Tufts University and Emerson College. Contract negotiations at Northeastern University are ongoing, with sessions set to begin at Boston University and Bentley in the coming months.


Among the major gains in the three-year Lesley University contract:


  • Fair Pay that Values Teaching: Most Adjunct Faculty will receive a 33% increase in per-course pay over the next three years – with an increase of up to 18% for those teaching studio courses.
  • Job Security: Adjunct Faculty who teach three courses per year over a four-year period will now receive two-year appointments, along with enhanced benefits – including a contribution to their retirement plan and tuition remission for courses taught at Lesley.
  • Inclusion in the Lesley Community: Adjunct faculty will now have an elevated voice in decisions that impact educators and their students – including formal representation in both the University Council and Faculty Assembly.
  • Professional Development Fund: Lesley Adjunct Faculty will have access to funding to support research, scholarship, civic engagement, and professional and artistic practice that contribute to the learning experience on campus.


Adjunct Norah Dooley hailed the agreement as a major victory for faculty and students at Lesley.

“This contract is a start towards turning this university away from corporate values and back to human and academic values that honor the work of all,” said Dooley, a member of the union bargaining committee. “This contract shows a path towards recognizing the truth that teachers and students are at the center of learning at Lesley University.”


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.


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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Written by LesleyFF