We Formed a Union, Here’s What to Expect

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A Union is Us, Not a Third Party

It is apparently a common trope to consider a union an external organization, a so-called “third  party,” with the monolithic self-interested agenda that implies. The suggestion is the “third party” would intervene and interrupt the productive relationship between adjuncts and DSC_0846administrators of their university. Our experience at Tufts, where we won a first contract with significant improvements in pay and longer contracts as members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), has been strikingly different from that stereotype. Though we have benefited from the experience and energy of SEIU’s professional staff at every step, our issues, our preferences, our priorities, our language about our situation, our strategy and our ability to discover all of these, have determined the shape and direction of our efforts to form a union.
Far from feeling separated by some third party, we feel much more deeply and more significantly integrated into the university than before. We have gained stature by being together, a union, and we feel it both in our own commitment to the well-being of our students and our teachers, and in our ability to be heard and considered part of our university. — Rebecca Gibson, Tufts University


By Uniting, We Have a Real Voice in our Future

 


Pooling Our Resources is Part of Our Strength

As is often the case, the issue of dues was raised in the run-up to our union election at Tufts.  It’s important to remember that we did not pay a penny in dues until we voted overwhelmingly for our first contract. We would never have voted to approve a contract that isn’t worth considerably more to us than our dues. Simply put, it’s up to us: if it isn’t worth it, we won’t approve it.DSC_0401
What’s more, it’s important to consider the intangible benefits of unionization, including a more democratic university in a more democratic society. I think the fundamental question for any of us to ask ourselves is whether we want our universities’ administrations to have unilateral control over our pay, benefits and working conditions, or whether we want to have a say in our work lives. Our union gives us the tools we need to prevent further declines in our standard of living, to defend what we have, and to move forward on equity, job security, cost of living, and the other issues we have identified as important to us. — Andy Katt, Tufts University