28. If a union is elected, who would negotiate the terms of a contract with the university?
A: Most likely, a union representative would be accompanied by no more than five faculty members on a negotiating committee. The union representative typically leads the negotiations for the faculty, and the union representative’s objectives might or might not align with those of all faculty in the bargaining unit. For example, the union representative could make concessions on topics that are highly valued by rank-and-file bargaining unit members in exchange for concessions from the university on topics that are highly prioritized by the union but not the bargaining unit.
29. How are adjunct faculty members selected to serve on the negotiating committee?
A: We do not know the union’s process for selecting bargaining unit members to the negotiating committee. Union bylaws may not include provisions for how this is done. DePaul has no input into or oversight of this process. You should ask the union how it selects its adjunct faculty representatives and how you can have a voice in that process.
30. Which faculty members would a union represent? Would it represent faculty who only teach one class?
A: The union would decide which faculty members to include in its proposed bargaining unit. The unit could include adjunct faculty, term faculty, and even tenured faculty. It could include faculty from a single department or college or from across the university. The faculty members included in a proposed bargaining unit must share common interests, and the National Labor Relations Board could reject the union’s proposal if it does not believe that to be the case.
31. If a union is elected, would I be required to pay union dues?
A: Yes. It is typically a union priority to negotiate a contract provision known as a “union security clause” that requires all who are represented to pay dues or an equivalent service fee to the union as a condition of employment. The union security clause could require the university to terminate any faculty member who does not remain current in payment of union dues. In addition to the requirement that all employees pay dues, the union often negotiates a Dues Checkoff Clause, which calls for the university to withhold union dues from a faculty member’s paycheck and send the funds directly to the union.
32. Who decides how much union dues are?
A: The union—not the employer—sets the amount of dues. The union also has the legal right to increase dues as it sees fit. Unlike salaries and benefits, dues are not negotiated between the union and the employer. In addition, while the union determines how much you will pay, whether or not that money is automatically deducted from your paycheck and other details would be part of a contract negotiation.
33. What are typical dues fees?
A: Union dues vary, and sometimes faculty at different institutions represented by the same union pay a different level of dues. For example, the SEIU is required by its Constitution to collect from each member a minimum of $32 per month in dues with $1 annual increases; however, in some places it has implemented a dues system based on a percentage of earnings, typically 2.0 percent of pay. This means that each time you get a raise, more of your money will be spent on union dues.
34. Will a union increase my compensation?
A: Not necessarily. It is unknown what may result from a collective bargaining process. If a union is elected to represent DePaul faculty, the university and the union will negotiate in good faith over mandatory subjects of bargaining; however, that does not guarantee an agreement on anything. A union cannot unilaterally increase compensation. With the union as your representative, you could earn more, less or the same. We invite you to view union contracts posted on the Recent Labor Contracts and Union Information page. When making comparisons to other universities, it is important to remember that many universities operate on a semester system, so the rates at DePaul would be significantly different.
35. Could I expect to make $15,000 per course in total compensation as SEIU is demanding?
A: Neither the SEIU nor any union that we’re aware of has negotiated a contract for adjuncts anywhere near that level of compensation. We encourage you to read the contracts unions have negotiated for their members; you can find several on the Recent Labor Contracts and Union Information page. Remember, too, that DePaul is on the quarter system rather than a semester system, so any salary a union has negotiated elsewhere must be adjusted downward for 10 weeks of class time rather than 15 weeks.
36. Will a union be able to deliver better benefits and work policies?
A: It is not known if benefits and work policies for term and adjunct faculty would improve with a union. What is known is that the university has created or expanded adjunct benefits and advantageous work policies in recent years. These include eligibility for teaching and grant awards, a course cancellation fee program, a redesigned hiring process, an online orientation program, a variable tuition waiver benefit based on number of credit hours taught and access to the university’s tax-deferred 403(b) retirement plan. In addition, eligible adjunct faculty have access to medical, vision, dental and life insurance; an employee assistance program; and backup childcare services. DePaul’s offerings are competitive in the marketplace and demonstrate the tremendous value the university places in adjunct faculty.
37. Will a union increase my job security?
A: Not necessarily. Term and adjunct faculty job security is ultimately a factor of student demand and economic conditions, both of which fluctuate and neither of which DePaul or the union have control over. Union-represented faculty at other universities and colleges have not been immune to these factors. For example, in April 2015, SEIU-represented adjunct faculty in the music school at George Washington University were notified that many of them would be laid off the following year, and many others would have their hours severely curtailed. We think that the best way to ensure faculty job security is to provide our students with the best educational experience possible and achieve our educational mission.
38. Will having a union mean that all adjunct faculty will receive health benefits?
A: Some people believe the union will provide a pension and health insurance in exchange for their membership dues. That is not the case. Dollars spent by the union on pensions and health insurance fund the pensions and health insurance of the union’s officers and employees—NOT its members. You can view these expenses in a union’s LM-2 report.
39. Would the union give me a stronger voice?
A: DePaul term and adjunct faculty have opportunities at both the school or college level and the university level to make their voices heard about a variety of academic issues and working conditions. For example, the newly formed Workplace Environment Committee (WEC) comprised of elected adjunct faculty members hears, reports, and suggests resolutions to workplace issues affecting the lives of adjunct faculty members across the university. In addition, adjunct and term faculty members serving on Faculty Council’s Committee on Contingent Faculty address their colleagues’ ideas or concerns about issues of academic policy and governance. You also are able to discuss matters on an individual basis with your program director, department chair or dean. Faculty represented by a union would no longer deal individually or through faculty representative committees with the university or their school or college on issues including pay and working conditions. DePaul would be required by law to deal only with the union and its representatives. SEIU contracts at other universities and colleges typically mandate that a committee consisting of no more than five faculty representatives designated by the union and five by the university consider and make recommendations on matters of general importance to faculty and the university. The university, however, retains the final authority with respect to adopting recommendations made by the committee. The union would give you a voice through the collective bargaining process about working conditions and parameters but not a greater voice within the institution relating to academic matters such as courses, curriculum and programs.
40. Will union members be allowed to serve on the Workplace Environment Committee (WEC)?
A: We believe the WEC will allow adjunct faculty to have a greater and direct voice in their working relationship with DePaul University. At this time, it is unclear whether those adjunct faculty who are part of a union bargaining unit could serve on the WEC. For adjunct faculty in a bargaining unit, changes in workplace conditions are subject to negotiations between the university and the union and are dictated by the terms of the collective bargaining agreement.
41. Would union representation give faculty greater say over university budgeting decisions?
A: The union and its members would negotiate to influence policy and practices, but allocating funds to certain areas will not be within their power, unless of course the parties bargain and reach agreement. It is typical for the employer to maintain budgetary decision making under a union contract. For example, SEIU’s contract with American University states, “Management of the University is vested exclusively in the University. Except as otherwise provided in this Agreement, the Union agrees that the University has the right to establish, plan, direct and control the University’s mission, programs, objectives, activities, resources, and priorities...”
42. Would a union be able to change DePaul’s scheduling practices?
A: The union could request that scheduling practices be a topic for negotiation and be specified in a collective bargaining agreement. If scheduling practices are negotiated, unions often prefer a standardized practice—such as assigning adjunct faculty by seniority—over such factors as faculty interest or if they are more qualified to teach certain courses. To view examples of contracts at other institutions, visit the Recent Labor Contracts and Union Information webpage.
43. If there is a union, what would happen to a body that represents adjunct faculty?
A: Representative bodies such as the new Workplace Environment Committee and Faculty Council would not speak for faculty members represented by a union on matters subject to collective bargaining, including pay and working conditions. Because a union typically does not represent all adjunct faculty members, however, a representative adjunct body at DePaul would be of value to faculty members who are not part of an organized bargaining unit.
44. Would unionization lead to an increase in tuition?
A: Unionization would increase the university’s legal and administrative costs, and all costs are considered in decisions regarding tuition.