• Frequently Asked Questions

    Q: If the adjunct faculty vote in a union, how would individual adjunct faculty have their concerns addressed? How would their wages, benefits, and specific working conditions be determined?

    A: If the union is voted in, Hamline’s administration would bargain with the service workers’ union (SEIU) over terms and conditions of employment for adjunct faculty. The university would no longer be able to deal directly with adjunct instructors on matters pertaining to adjunct faculty working conditions, benefits, and compensation, because those matters would be bargained with the service workers’ union as the exclusive representative of adjunct faculty. The authority to speak for the university in bargaining over these issues would fall to Hamline’s administration.

    Q: Why doesn’t Hamline compensate its adjunct faculty better, in which case adjuncts wouldn’t even be thinking about unionizing?

    A: Hamline pays a minimum of $4,000 per four-credit course to its adjunct faculty, which is competitive locally and nationally.

    We have been working to improve communication, engagement, and open dialogue over the past year – a process that is continuing. We had conversations over the past several months on ways to better integrate adjunct faculty, including orientation for new faculty members, recognition of successful service, and compensation increases. As a first step, this summer, payments for all CLA classes have been increased.

    Q: Would a union help to improve compensation, benefits, and working conditions?

    A: No, not necessarily. If the service workers’ union wins the election, the university’s only obligation would be to bargain in “good faith” with the union. The law specifically states that an employer has absolutely no obligation to agree to any union demand or make any concessions in bargaining position. Hamline cannot be forced to accept any union proposal that is not in its best interest, or that would take Hamline in a different direction from what we believe is best for the university.

    Further, the service workers’ union that is hoping to represent our adjunct faculty have only completed collective bargaining agreements at just a few private universities nationwide. We were able to find two examples—George Washington University and American University. Neither of those agreements provides for health benefits for part-time faculty, nor do they include wages higher than what Hamline currently pays adjuncts, additional job security, or office space.

    Q: The United Methodist Church supports unions, shouldn’t Hamline, as a Methodist institution?

    A: Hamline University does not oppose unions. In fact, the firm Hamline uses for building services employs some of our campus maintenance workers who are members of Service Employees International Union (SEIU). That service workers’ union primarily represents service-related jobs and is the same union trying to represent our adjunct professors.

    We do not, however, believe that it is in the best interest of the university, the students, or the adjunct faculty themselves if they unionize. Adjunct faculty would likely be required to pay union dues and fees, and there is no guarantee that working through a union would improve an adjunct faculty member’s wages, benefits or working conditions.

    It is also distracting to the mission and vision of the university which is focused on providing exceptional academic experiences for students. Frankly, we do not think it is a good use of the university’s limited resources – either in time or money.

    Furthermore, we do not think working through a third party helps us move forward in becoming a collaborative community, based on trust, open dialogue and respect for individuals’ interests.

    Q: Why don’t you just let the adjuncts vote and stay out of it?

    A: Our adjunct faculty have the right to choose to engage with the union or to oppose it. We would never stand in the way or try to prevent them from making their own decisions. However, this is an important and complicated issue. Hearing only from the union is not the way to make a good and fully informed decision. We are sharing information on this website to help our adjunct faculty learn more about unions, collective bargaining, and about what having a union represent them may mean. We want to ensure that all voters make a fully-informed decision.

    Q: If the service workers’ union is voted in, who would it represent?Would adjunct faculty have to join the union? If an adjunct faculty member doesn’t want to be a union member, what happens?

    A: Should the service workers’ union win a representation election, all of Hamline’s St. Paul undergraduate, part-time adjunct faculty who teach non-individual courses toward an academic degree would be represented by the union. The university would be legally obligated to bargain with the union over wages and terms and conditions of employment for that segment of adjunct faculty. In the collective bargaining process, unions nearly always demand a clause that would require all of those bargaining unit members to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment (i.e., in order to retain their job). With such a clause, the university would be obligated to terminate any adjunct faculty member who failed or declined to pay the required union dues or fees.

    Q: Will all adjunct faculty vote? If so, when?

    A: Eligible adjunct faculty will be mailed hard copy ballots on June 5 and must return them to the National Labor Review Board by June 18.

    The union needs only 50% plus one to win the election. This means, if 100 adjunct faculty were to receive a ballot but only 20 chose to return it with a vote, the union could win the vote with only 11 ballots of ‘yes’.

    This is why we feel it is so critical for adjuncts to be educated about the service workers’ union, the unionization process, and the collective bargaining process. We think it’s very important they are well-informed so they can make the best decision about whether they will be represented by a union.

    Q: I've heard that Hamline has a high percentage of adjunct faculty members teaching courses. Why is that? 

    Adjunct faculty members do not teach a large share of undergraduate courses at Hamline University. In fact, 80% of our undergraduate courses are taught by full-time faculty members who have earned the highest degree in their field. A larger number of adjunct professors do teach in our graduate programs of business, education, law, and writing, fields in which it is vital to learn from practitioners, as well as full-time faculty.

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