Question: Would all part-time faculty play a role in negotiating a collective bargaining agreement if they were represented by SEIU?
Answer: No. Typically, collective bargaining is conducted by an employee of the union and a small group of part-time faculty who would negotiate with the university. For example, only six faculty members out of a bargaining unit of more than 1,000 faculty members were on the negotiating committee that negotiated the first collective bargaining agreement between SEIU and American University.
Question: How would an individual faculty member ensure that his or her concerns were addressed in the collective bargaining agreement?
Answer: While SEIU may solicit faculty concerns, SEIU cannot guarantee that some or any of those concerns will be addressed in the collective bargaining agreement. There is no way for an individual faculty member to ensure that his or her concerns are adequately addressed as a small bargaining team negotiates the collective bargaining agreement.
Question: Would the collective bargaining agreement reflect the needs of all part-time faculty if they were represented by SEIU?
Answer: That is unlikely. Negotiating a collective bargaining agreement is hard work. The parties typically exchange several proposals over a period of months, and sometimes years, in order to reach an agreement. That agreement usually is the product of a series of compromises made by both parties. Therefore, even if SEIU crafts an initial set of proposals reflecting the various concerns of all part-time faculty, it is unlikely that an agreement could be reached without significant modifications to those initial proposals.
Question: Does collective bargaining give employees an equal say in decisions that affect their lives at work?
Answer: Collective bargaining gives the union the right to negotiate with an employer. If part-time faculty were represented by SEIU, then SEIU would be the faculty's exclusive representative for collective bargaining. This means SEIU would have the exclusive right to negotiate with the university about the pay, hours and other terms and conditions of employment for all part-time faculty it represented.
Question: If a faculty member is part of a group represented by a union, can she negotiate her own terms of employment instead of relying on the union's negotiators?
Answer: No, individual part-time faculty members would not be able to negotiate their own terms of employment directly with Northeastern. Instead, these faculty members would have to rely on SEIU’s negotiating committee to reach an agreement with Northeastern and the terms of their employment would be subject to that agreement.
Question: Will SEIU negotiate improvements to part-time faculty, pay, benefits and working conditions?
Answer: If SEIU represented part-time faculty working at Northeastern, then Northeastern would be legally obligated to bargain in good faith with SEIU over the part-time faculty's pay, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment. However, the obligation to bargain in good faith "does not compel either party to agree to a proposal or require the making of a concession..." Section 8(d), National Labor Relations Act. Therefore, there is no guarantee that SEIU could negotiate improvements in pay, benefits or working conditions.
Question: Is it true that in collective bargaining the terms and conditions of part-time faculty could only stay the same as they are today or get better?
Answer: No. There is a common misperception that current working conditions serve as the floor and can only improve with collective bargaining. This is not true. All that can be said with certainty about negotiations is that there are three possible outcomes of negotiations: faculty could get more than they have today, the same as they have today, or less than they have today.
Question: Will SEIU negotiate consistent pay rates across disciplines if they represent part-time faculty at Northeastern?
Answer: Across higher education, including Northeastern, there is a broad range of pay among various disciplines. This is true for all faculty regardless of their status as full-time or part-time, tenured, tenure-track, or non-tenure-track. If SEIU represented part-time faculty, it could and may ask for a single rate across disciplines, but Northeastern would not be required to agree to such a proposal.
Question: Will SEIU representation of part-time faculty improve the quality of education Northeastern provides students?
Answer: SEIU has acknowledged in its collective bargaining agreements with other institutions that regardless of the union's representative status, it is the university that is responsible for providing quality education to students by hiring qualified faculty. For example, in its contracts with George Washington University and American University, SEIU agreed to language that continues to give those institutions broad discretion over setting curriculum and selecting faculty to teach courses. Both contracts include language stating that each university has the right to make “decisions regarding who is taught, what is taught, how it is taught and who does the teaching.”
Question: Will SEIU unite faculty across Boston to bargain standard pay and other terms and conditions of employment at Boston-area schools?
Answer: Northeastern values its unique identity and would continue to do so if SEIU represented part-time faculty working at Northeastern. This will be true regardless of whether SEIU represents faculty at other local institutions. Northeastern would not be bound by any contract negotiated by SEIU with another college or university.
Question: Will SEIU be able to dictate terms at Northeastern if it can successfully organize faculty at other local schools?
Answer: No. Even If SEIU represented part-time faculty working at several other schools and at Northeastern, terms negotiated elsewhere would not apply at Northeastern. If SEIU represented part-time faculty working at Northeastern, then Northeastern would be legally obligated to bargain with SEIU about the wages, hours, and working conditions of part-time faculty employed by Northeastern. Northeastern would not agree to SEIU proposals simply because some other local institution has done so; nor would it be required to do so.