By Nancy McCann
Adjunct faculty on the three campuses of the USF system can finally stop chanting “let us vote.”
On Monday, it was announced that they were victorious in their campaign to hold a union election.
From Feb. 16 to March 13, the Florida Public Employees Relations Commission will run an election allowing adjuncts from USF Tampa, USF St. Petersburg and USF Sarasota-Manatee to vote on forming a collective bargaining unit.
The USF system adjuncts are part of a group around the country known as Faculty Forward, a project of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) for organizing the unionization efforts of adjuncts.
“Sixty percent of first (union) contracts won a raise of 20 percent or more for the lowest paid” and “71 percent of first contracts included professional development funds, valued at $897,500,” according to information about Faculty Forward contracts that was provided to The Crow’s Nest by SEIU.
Ballots will be mailed on Feb.16 to adjuncts’ home addresses.
This is the release from the Service Employees International Union, which says it represents nearly 50,000 unionized college and university faculty members around the country:
After nearly a year of delay tactics and opposition from administrators, a group of around 900 adjunct professors at the University of South Florida (USF) have won the right to vote to form their union.
Last week, the Public Employees Relations Commission handed USF President Judy Genshaft another defeat in the administration’s efforts to stall the union election, reaffirming the adjuncts’ right to vote and collectively bargain.
“When we come together and keep fighting, we win,” said Tara Blackwell, a USF adjunct professor. “The administration took every opportunity to delay our right to vote, but we kept speaking out for our rights and let them know we wouldn’t be silenced.”
The victory comes after a series of petitions, protests, meeting visits, media reports and the release of a Faculty Forward report documenting the poverty experienced by faculty across Florida and at USF.
USF faculty will become the third group of adjuncts to hold a union election in Florida in the last year and a half. In December, Broward College voted overwhelmingly in favor of forming a union. At 1,700 potential members, it is the largest SEIU faculty unit to date.
In late 2016, Hillsborough Community College sparked the movement when adjuncts voted for union representation for around 1,000 professors.
“We’re standing together to transform higher education in Florida,” said Mark Lane-Holbert, an adjunct professor at USF. “We’re starting on our own campuses and taking this fight to Tallahassee to win the funding we deserve for all faculty so that our students can get the education they deserve.”
The election will be administered by the Public Employee Relations Commission and will run from February 16 to March 13.
Header photo: Nancy McCann | The Crow’s Nest