Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Montgomery College’s Union Busting Campaign: Part Two of Four

On March 3, Mary Kay Shartle-Galotto, Executive Vice-President for Academic and Student Services and Marshall Moore, Vice-President for Administrative and Fiscal Services sent a memo warning adjunct faculty not to support SEIU Local 500. This document has the fingerprints of a “union avoidance consultant” all over it. The memo begins:

As some of you may already know, organizers of the Service Employees International Union Local 500 have approached the part-time faculty at Montgomery College and have asked them to sign union authorization cards. If a sufficient number of part-time faculty sign these cards, the union intends to submit a petition for a representation election to the State Commissioner of Labor.

Montgomery College has always maintained good relationships with its full-time faculty and staff unions; however, the College does not believe that the unionization of part-time faculty would best serve the interests of this faculty base, the College, or our students. There are many complicated facets to this issue - and some misunderstandings - that part-time faculty members should understand and reconcile before they commit themselves to union representation. Unions can promise a lot - namely wage increases, better benefits, job security - but the union may not always be able to deliver everything it intends. Faculty should also be aware of the sizable fee/cost factor involved with any union membership.

Part-time faculty members are a diverse group of people with many different goals and priorities. We have faculty who work for a variety of different industries and institutions, and this diverse, real-world perspective is something we highly value in this faculty base. Unionization would almost necessarily standardize the treatment of this population, which could result in difficulties with the assignment and scheduling of classes, not to mention possible difficulties involving full-time faculty relationships.
So Shartle-Galotto and Moore admit to maintaining “good relationships” with their other unions but nevertheless say “the College does not believe” that unionization would be in the interest of adjuncts. Why not? They refer to “many complicated facets to this issue – and some misunderstandings.” They talk about the “sizable fee/cost factor” of unions but avoid mentioning that U.S. union members were paid on average 30% more than non-members last year. They also do not want their adjuncts to know that while 69% of U.S. unionized employees have access to a defined benefit pension plan (which the adjuncts do not have), only 15% of non-union workers have similar access. And their discussion of “standardizing” the workforce omits the fact that any employee classifications are a subject for collective bargaining in which the employer has full rights of participation.

Later in the memo, Shartle-Galotto and Moore claim that adjuncts received an 8 percent salary increase in the 2007-08 academic year. They neglect to mention that the college's adjuncts receive as little as one-third of regular faculty pay for the same work. They also fail to mention that their hired “union avoidance” attorney, Darrell VanDeusen, could be making more in 30 hours of billing (perhaps $12,000- $18,000) than adjuncts can make teaching four courses in a semester ($10,560).

But Montgomery College is not merely selectively releasing information. They attached a list of “frequently asked questions” about unions to their memo which was probably drafted in consultation with VanDeusen. We’ll take a look at that list in Part Three.

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