By a two-to-one margin, full-time faculty at Tufts University voted overwhelmingly to form their union today, casting ballots to join Faculty Forward – a project of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 509. The victory caps off a string of faculty union victories in recent months, as more than 2,700 non-tenure-track educators throughout the Greater Boston area have come together to improve their profession and the overall quality of higher education through unionization.
“We believed that a union would help us build a real community – one where all faculty can more effectively contribute to our shared mission of educating students,” said Penn Loh, a lecturer in Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning. “Coupled with the progress made by our part-time colleagues, today’s victory will no doubt raise the Tufts learning experience to new heights.”
With today’s vote, nearly 100 full-time lecturers at Tufts 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 recently, with a union vote currently underway among Bentley University adjuncts.
“Lecturers from many disciplines came together today to show how deeply we care about this institution,” said Claire Schub, a lecturer in Romance Languages. “Through our union, we now have a real voice in the decisions that matter most to educators and our students – and we look forward to working together for a brighter future at Tufts.”
At 2,700 strong and growing, Boston-area 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 Tufts full-time faculty election was conducted in-person, with ballots cast on the university’s Medford campus over a two-day period. More than 80% 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 2,600 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 http://seiu509.org.