This semester, non-tenure track faculty members will begin a publicity campaign as part of unionization efforts to join the Service Employees International Union local 509, located in Watertown, Mass. The faculty members, who organized into the Brandeis Faculty Organizing Committee, have yet to begin talks with the University concerning unionization but have set up a website where community members can sign letters in support of their cause. 30 percent of non-tenure track faculty members need to sign union authorization cards before a vote on unionization can take place. 

This Editorial Board commends the Brandeis Faculty Organizing Committee for approaching the prospect of unionization in an open manner that involves both SEIU, an expert organization, and those with a stake in the outcome, namely the tenured and tenure-track faculty members. We additionally advise the committee to keep the student body informed about the decision process, both as a teaching opportunity and because students are a constituency indirectly affected by the results of unionization. 

The Brandeis Faculty Organizing Committee has thus far given their unionization efforts the best chance for success by including the voices of both the SEIU and tenured and tenure-track faculty members, since both the organization and the faculty members have presumed stakes in the outcome of the efforts. Local 509 already represents faculty at several universities in the Boston area, including Tufts University, Lesley University and Northeastern University. This experience is critical to a fair and just negotiation.

Communicating with both faculty peers and experienced union officials approaches  the issue in the most educated and open manner possible, and for this, we applaud the BFOC. Additionally, the prospect of unionization provides non-tenure-track faculty members a unique opportunity to educate the student body about the merits of unionization and good business practice. 

The student body, being indirectly affected by the prospect of unionization, have a responsibility to be aware of the unionization efforts. The Brandeis Faculty Organizing Committee’s efforts thus far have shown they are transparent about the issue. By remaining open about the process, the committee can both keep students informed and teach students about the merits of unionization, thus making a better case with wider support.

This responsibility to educate the student body does not lie solely on the non-tenure-track faculty, and this board urges the University’s administration to educate the student body about their own position, allowing the students to weigh the merits of unionization even though they do not have a vote in the matter.

In talking with SEIU and allowing tenured and tenure track faculty members the opportunity to support the efforts, the committee has approached the topic of unionization in the most educated and transparent manner possible given the sensitivity and confidentiality necessary to proper negotiations.  

This board commends the recent efforts of the Brandeis Faculty Organizing Committee toward gaining recognition for unionization efforts.