Collective Bargaining Basics

Know The Limits Of Collective Bargaining Before You Vote

SEIU seeks to represent certain part-time faculty for purposes of negotiating their pay, benefits, and other working conditions through collective bargaining.  What does this really mean for you?  Consider the following:

  • If you are among the faculty SEIU seeks to represent, you will be subject to whatever terms may be agreed upon regardless of whether or not you vote.  Faculty members who are eligible to vote cannot opt out of union representation if SEIU prevails in the election.  Be sure to make your voice heard on whether you want to be subject to collective bargaining.  Please vote.
  • Collective bargaining requires that parties meet at reasonable times and confer in good faith about the part-time faculty members’ wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment.  Neither party is required to agree to the other’s proposals, nor reach any agreement at all.  This means Northeastern has no obligation to agree to anything SEIU claims it will achieve through collective bargaining.  If Northeastern faculty members have any doubt about this reality of collective bargaining, they should compare SEIU’s campaign promises to faculty at other institutions to the terms and conditions SEIU has actually achieved on behalf of those faculty.
  • There are simply no guarantees in collective bargaining.  Northeastern faculty could receive more than they have now, but they could also receive the same as they have now, or less than they have now.  Regardless of what SEIU may negotiate on behalf of Northeastern faculty, SEIU will almost certainly propose that faculty must pay union dues in order to enjoy continued employment.
  • If the union is successful in the election, and ultimately negotiates a collective bargaining agreement with Northeastern University, that agreement will establish a set of rules to which Northeastern and the faculty must adhere.  There are many avenues available to part-time faculty today to enhance their experience at Northeastern by working directly with the administration.  If SEIU is elected to represent part-time faculty, many of these avenues will be replaced by collective bargaining.  Northeastern would not be able to vary from the rules to address a faculty member’s particular circumstances.

Again, please make your voice heard in the upcoming election.  Before you do so, please consider whether the uncertain results of collective bargaining are worth the cost.  You can make your own observations of collective bargaining by reviewing the agreements SEIU negotiated at other private universities, summaries of their most relevant provisions and other useful information at http://www.northeastern.edu/part-timeinfo/index.html.