Bentley Adjunct Faculty WIN Their Union!

Join nearly 3,000 Boston-area educators now united through FacultyForward/SEIU

BOSTON – Adjunct faculty at Bentley University overwhelmingly voted “Union Yes” today, casting their ballots to join Faculty Forward – a project of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 509. The vote marks the third faculty union victory in as many weeks, with nearly 3,000 Boston-area educators now joined in a shared effort to improve their profession and the overall quality of higher education through unionization

“This is a major victory, not only for Bentley adjuncts, but for the university and its students,” said Robert Hannigan, who has taught history at Bentley University for more than 30 years. “We now have a real chance not only to improve working conditions for adjuncts, but – in the process – to create an inclusive atmosphere that will enhance the university’s overall educational value.”

With today’s two-to-one vote, more than 220 adjunct professors at Bentley join adjunct colleagues at Boston University, Northeastern and Lesley in forming unions through SEIU Local 509. In October, part-time lecturers at Tufts signed their first union contract – making significant gains around compensation, working conditions and educators’ role in decision-making. Contingent faculty on the Lesley and Northeastern campuses also began contract negotiations in recent months.

“When we began our union effort in the spring of 2013, we felt it was important for adjuncts at Bentley to join together in order to have a collective voice,” said Joan Atlas, an adjunct lecturer in English and Media Studies who represents adjuncts in the Bentley Faculty Senate.  “Through our union, we’ve gained the ability to make real headway in improving adjuncts’ working conditions – and our students’ learning conditions – on campus.”

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 Bentley adjunct faculty vote was conducted by mail, with ballots tabulated at the National Labor Relations Board office in Boston. Three-quarters 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

We Won!

Today we stood together at the National Labor Relations Board to watch the vote count for our union election — the result of a dialogue that began over two years ago on the Bentley campus.

We started organizing because we felt it was necessary for adjuncts to join together in order to have a collective voice and today that voice was heard — we have won our union.

This is not only a major victory for adjuncts, but for both our students and the university as a whole. We now have a real chance to not only to improve the conditions for adjuncts, but also to create an inclusive atmosphere that will enhance the university’s overall educational value.

It is important to remember that this is not the end. This is only the first milestone in our fight for better working conditions for adjunct faculty. We’ve put in a lot of hard work, but there is still much to do.

We look forward to being able negotiate as equals with our administration. Together we will negotiate an agreement that will build a better Bentley.


The Bentley Adjuncts Organizing Committee

Bentley University’s part-time faculty votes to form union

boston globe


Bentley University’s part-time faculty votes to form union

Wide effort cites low pay, benefits

By Matt Rocheleau

Part-time professors at Bentley University have voted to unionize, officials announced Thursday, making them the fifth group of adjunct faculty from area colleges to organize in the last year and a half.

A previous unionization effort by adjuncts at the Waltham school, in the fall of 2013, fell two votes short of passing.

The latest vote, organized by a group of the part-time instructors, was conducted over the past two weeks by mail-in ballot. This time, 108 Bentley adjuncts voted in favor of unionizing and 42 voted against, out of about 220 who were eligible to vote, according to the Service Employees International Union, which over the past two years has run a national campaign to unionize faculty.

“The unionization effort was really about giving us a voice and improving our working conditions,” said Joan Atlas, who has taught writing and public speaking part time at Bentley for 13 years. “We have people who have worked here for many years, but don’t have benefits and are paid very little.”

Atlas said that it was difficult to persuade some part-time faculty “because Bentley is a business school and there are a lot of conservative people here.”

But after watching adjuncts successfully unionize at other Boston area schools, many Bentley professors “started seeing things differently,” she said.

“It was a hard fight to get to this point. But it’s a relief that we did finally succeed and with such a wonderful result: a more than 2-to-1” ratio.

Bentley spokeswoman Helen Henrichs said in a statement that “while Bentley has consistently stated its belief that having a union is not in the best interest of the faculty or the university, the university will, of course, bargain in good faith over the terms and conditions of employment for unit members.”

In the fall of 2013, adjunct professors at Tufts University became the first local group to organize after the SEIU launched its faculty unionization campaign. About 200 part-time faculty at Tufts reached a contract agreement in October that will give most a 22 percent pay raise over the next three years and better job security.

Earlier this month, more than 750 part-time professors at Boston University voted to unionize, and will soon enter contract negotiations.

About 960 adjuncts at Northeastern University voted to unionize in May, and about 700 part-time faculty at Lesley University unionized last February. Both of those faculty groups are in the midst of contract negotiations with their respective institutions.

Full-time, non tenure-track faculty at Tufts voted to unionize this month, and similar campaigns are underway at other area schools, including Brandeis and Lesley universities, officials said.

The newly unionized professors from Boston area schools have joined Faculty Forward, which is a part of SEIU Local 509 and now has nearly 3,000 members, officials said.

Nationally, the number of tenure-track positions has dropped as colleges have become increasingly dependent on the low cost and flexibility of contingent faculty.

Today, about 76 percent of higher education instructors hold non tenure-track positions.

Adjunct faculty are paid on average about $3,000 per three-credit course, the SEIU said. About 80 percent of them do not receive health insurance from their colleges, and about 86 percent do not receive retirement benefits.

Full-time, non tenure-track faculty are typically eligible for benefits, including health and retirement insurance. However, they typically do not have long-term job security, and they are often paid less than tenure and tenure-track faculty.

While average annual pay nationally for tenured and tenure-track faculty is roughly $85,000, the median salary for full-time non-tenure track faculty falls around $50,000, according to surveys by the American Association of University Professors.

Meanwhile, National Adjunct Walkout Day was held this week on campuses across the country. But in the Boston area, where the adjunct unionization push has been an overall success so far, many part-time faculty decided against walking out or holding big demonstrations, officials said.

“Faculty in Boston are in a very different place than they are in other parts of the country,” said Jason Stephany,  a spokesman for the local SEIU campaign.

To see the original Boston Globe article Click Here.


Tufts University’s full-time professors vote to unionize

By Matt Rocheleau | Globe Correspondent February 13, 2015

Full-time professors at Tufts University voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to unionize.

The move marked a first for a local Service Employees International Union campaign that has successfully organized part-time faculty at several Boston-area schools over the past two years but until Thursday had not unionized full-time professors.

The Tufts instructors and lecturers are not on track to receive tenure, which is generally considered a permanent position.

By unionizing, the faculty hope to negotiate better work conditions.

“We’re hoping to have job security, better pay, and more of a voice, and the union, because of collective bargaining, gives us a strong voice,” said Claire Schub, a French literature lecturer who has taught at Tufts as a full-time, nontenure-track professor for 22 years. “It also makes us more a part of the academic community, so the students benefit ultimately,” added Schub, who helped lead the organizing effort.

Fifty-two of the Tufts faculty voted for unionizing, 24 voted against, and about a dozen did not cast a ballot during the two-day, in-person election, which was held at the Medford campus, according to SEIU officials. The next step for professors is to negotiate with the university to develop a contract.

Tufts spokeswoman Kimberly Thurler said in a statement that the university’s administration has supported the lecturers’ right to vote and respects their decision.

The statement said full-time lecturers “already have stable positions,’’ and receive the same benefits and average salary increases as tenure-stream faculty. The lecturers also play a role in university governance, the statement said. They have voting rights at faculty meetings and are members of and sometimes leaders of faculty-administration committees.

“Moving forward, we hope to work productively with the SEIU as the collective bargaining process begins,” the statement said.

Similar campaigns to organize full-time, nontenure-track faculty at other area schools, including Brandeis and Lesley universities, are underway, officials said.

While average annual pay nationally for tenured and tenure-track faculty is in the $85,000 range and can climb to more than twice that amount, the median salary for full-time nontenure-track faculty falls around $50,000, according to surveys by the American Association of University Professors.

But, unlike part-time or adjunct teachers, full-time faculty who are not on the path to tenure typically are eligible for employer benefits, including health and retirement insurance, and they often receive better pay than adjuncts.

Like part-timers, however, most full-time faculty who are not on the tenure track do not have long-term job security. They say they have little influence in decisions made by their colleges, including ones that directly affect their working conditions.

In the fall of 2013, adjunct professors at Tufts became the first of several local groups to organize since the SEIU launched its faculty unionization campaign. About 200 part-time faculty at Tufts reached a contract agreement that will give most a 22 percent pay raise over the next three years and better job security.

Last week, more than 750 part-time professors at Boston University voted to unionize and will soon enter contract negotiations.

The newly unionized professors from Boston area schools have joined Faculty Forward, which is a part of SEIU Local 509 and now has more than 2,700 members, officials said.

Why We’re Voting YES

In the booklet above, you will see some of the faces of union supporters among our part-time faculty at Bentley University. You can also read, in our own words, why so many of us support the union — and why we ask you to join us by voting YES when you return your union ballot.

There are many reasons to vote YES: for a collective voice to win better pay; for longer contracts and professional development; for healthcare and consideration for full-time jobs; for other gains like those won by our colleagues at Tufts. Faculty at BU, Lesley and Northeastern are all on their way to strong union contracts as well — Bentley adjuncts can’t afford to be left behind!

We all know Bentley is a special place — one that we all care about deeply as educators. That’s why we are engaged in a shared effort to improve the learning experience on campus. Through collective action, we can make Bentley the best place for us to work and for our students to learn.

Together we will put the focus back on teaching, back on the classroom and back on the University’s core mission. We will win respect for our contributions to the Bentley experience.

As you read through this digital booklet, you will see familiar statements from colleagues from all over campus. You’ve likely expressed similar thoughts and concerns, yourself, or heard the same from fellow adjuncts. You may have even experienced frustration with the Administration’s lack of progress in dealing with these challenges.

This is our opportunity to bring about the changes we know are so desperately needed at Bentley. Through our union, our voices will be heard — just as our colleagues have been heard at campuses across the country.

This is our time to raise the voice of all adjuncts at Bentley and make a real difference on campus. Join us in voting YES for our union.


The Bentley Adjunct Faculty Organizing Committee

Daily Free Press | BU adjunct professors vote to unionize by a 2-to-1 margin

Written by J.D. Capelouto · February 5, 2015

BU OC Victory2As part of a yearlong campaign that has brought part-time faculty unions to several universities in Massachusetts, Boston University adjunct faculty voted Wednesday to join the Service Employees International Union Local 509.

With the 319-158 vote held by the National Labor Relations Board, more than 750 adjunct professors will unionize, advocating for better standards and improved stability, according to a Wednesday press release.

“It’s best when the university recognizes that it has a community and that we should be working together, and I think that the union will be a democratic process, as it was in today’s election,” said Dan Hunter, an English lecturer in the College of Arts and Sciences. “What’s important is that a group of people, adjuncts, who have been invisible, now cannot be ignored.”

Adjunct professors make up 41 percent of BU’s faculty, Hunter said.

The NLRB sent mail-in ballots to faculty members Jan. 13, allowing them to cast their votes in the election, The Daily Free Press reported.

The union will work to negotiate with the university over issues such as payroll, office space, longer contracts, job security and health benefits for the adjunct professors, Hunter said.

“What we really want to do is have as much conversation and discussion as we can on campus among the adjuncts and both people who supported the union and those who voted against it,” he said. “Now is the time to exercise democracy, to hear all the voices, to determine what adjuncts want the union to negotiate for.”

BU spokesman Colin Riley said the university looks forward to working with the adjunct union moving forward.

By becoming a part of SEIU Local 509, BU’s adjuncts join the faculties of Tufts University, Lesley University and Northeastern University, where individual union contract negotiations are in the process of being made, the release stated.

Laurie LaPorte, an anthropology lecturer in CAS, said she has been working on the unionization campaign for eight months. “I’m feeling pretty elated … listening to the stories of our adjunct colleagues and to have seen such an overwhelming turnout, we’re feeling pretty good about the outreach that we’ve done,” she said.

LaPorte said she looks forward to discussing different issues with the adjunct faculty, whether or not they voted in support of unionization.

“It feels very satisfying to be able to report back to the adjuncts with whom I’ve spoken that, ‘Yes, we are working toward actually having a voice for you to bring out your concerns and your issues and to work with the university administration on addressing those concerns,’” she said.

Gary Duehr, an adjunct professor in the College of Communication, said he is extremely pleased with the results and that the decision to unionize was a clear one.

“The only surprise to me was that it was 2-to-1 and not unanimous. It’s always interesting to me that anyone would vote against their own interests,” he said. “I understand that things can be complicated, but it’s great.”

Duehr said Tufts served as an example of how adjuncts should successfully unionize and negotiate multi-year contracts. “That’s kind of really beyond my imagination that something can even happen like that,” he said.

Several students said they are in support of the adjunct unionization. “Some of those professors bring a lot of unique experiences from different sectors, and they can only accommodate a part time schedule, and I think they really add to our educational experience, so we want to keep them happy too,” said Collette O’Connor, a freshman in the Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.

Justin Nadler, a freshman in the School of Management, said he was surprised to hear that adjunct faculty had only unionized now. “I feel like that would have been something they did a long time ago, if it improved their job conditions,” he said.

Alina Szremski, a sophomore in CAS, said spreading awareness about the working conditions of adjunct professors is important. “It’s kind of crazy that students pay so much tuition, and President [Robert] Brown makes over a million dollars a year, and then we can’t pay our adjuncts enough for them to live comfortably,” she said.

Hunter said the key to having a strong faculty is including all of its members. “You cannot have one faculty without bringing the adjuncts in and giving them a voice,” Hunter said. “We now have won that voice, so I look forward to very productive discussions about the future of the university.”

Full Time Support Letter

A Letter from Bentley University’s Tenured Faculty

– January 30, 2015 –

In 2013, some of us wrote to you about the adjunct faculty union election vote. As you most likely know, the choice to join a union lost by 2 votes. In the time since Bentley’s first vote, the Boston area has seen a big increase in adjunct faculty union activity. Adjunct faculty members at Tufts, Northeastern, and Lesley have voted to join unions. There are new adjunct faculty organizing drives underway at Boston University and Brandeis.

The Bentley Adjunct Organizing Committee has launched an organizing drive for another union vote this academic year. We thought it would be worthwhile to send our letter again, with support from more tenured faculty members. We hope to reach new adjunct faculty members and to remind all our adjunct faculty colleagues that we strongly support both your contributions to Bentley University and this effort to improve your working conditions.

Here (again) is the letter.

Dear Adjunct Faculty colleagues,

We really appreciate the very great contribution you make to teaching and learning at Bentley. We respect and admire your professionalism and talents. We know that your commitment to students and to Bentley means that you often do much more than the job requires.

We also recognize that you currently do this work for very low wages, without benefits, and without any assurance that you will have work from semester to semester. We believe that Bentley can do better than this, and that you deserve it.

As tenured faculty members who have both job security and decent working conditions, we strongly support the current adjunct faculty initiative to form a union and engage in collective bargaining. We believe that the exercise of your collective voices through an adjunct faculty union will enable you to improve your working conditions, which we very much hope will happen.

We also believe that this campaign is fully in the spirit of Bentley University’s commitments and values. Bentley has recognized the importance of collective bargaining by signing The United Nations Global Compact and agreeing to uphold “the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining.” According to the Global Compact, “Establishing genuine dialogue with freely chosen workers’ representatives enables both workers and employers to understand each other’s problems better and find ways to resolve them.”(

In addition, Bentley’s commitment to ethics and social responsibility continues to be both a source of pride and a goal for higher achievement. The union initiative is a great opportunity for Bentley to demonstrate our commitment to The U.N. Global Compact and to achieving “an ethical and socially engaged environment” at Bentley. (Our Vision

For all these reasons, we support the formation of a union for adjunct faculty members at Bentley University. We believe that a legitimate negotiation forum for adjunct faculty members will contribute to making Bentley a better institution for all of us.

With best wishes and respect,

Bridie Andrews, Associate Professor, History

Anthony Buono, Professor, Management

Laura M. Crary, Associate Professor, Management

Samir Dayal, Associate Professor, English and Media Studies

Michael Frank, Associate Professor, English and Media Studies

Robert Frederick, Professor, Philosophy

Richard Garrett, Associate Professor, Philosophy

Ranjoo Herr, Associate Professor, Philosophy

Bruce Herzberg, Professor, English and Media Studies

W. Michael Hoffman, Executive Director, Center for Business Ethics

Angma Jhala, Associate Professor, History

Elliott Levy, Associate Professor, Accountancy

Carolyn Magid, Associate Professor, Philosophy

Clifford Putney, Associate Professor, History

Axel Seeman, Associate Professor, Philosophy

Anna Siomopoulos, Associate Professor, English and Media Studies

Kristin Sorensen, Associate Professor, Global Studies

Marcus Stewart, Associate Professor, Management

Cyrus Veeser, Professor, History