Frequently Asked Questions

Why are we organizing?

USC faculty are coming together to address the crisis in higher education. Contingent faculty teach the majority of classes at USC, yet we face low levels of compensation, little or no benefits, lack of institutional support for research and scholarship, and exclusion from governance. By coming together to form a union, we can raise standards for faculty, and have a real voice in the decisions that affect us and the students we teach.

Who is SEIU?

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is the leader in representation of part time academic faculty and represents other academic institutions in California. Over 21,000 adjuncts across the county have decided to join together with SEIU. All adjunct faculty in the California State University system are members of SEIU, through its affiliate the California Faculty Association (CFA).

Who will be in charge of our union?

We embody and control every aspect of our union. As members of SEIU, we ARE our union and are committed to working with faculty across the nation to build a powerful organization, giving contingent faculty a real voice in higher education.

What will a union mean for me in real terms?

Forming a union enables contingent faculty to negotiate collectively for better terms of employment, using democratic processes to ensure that the interests of all non-tenure track faculty are represented. A union contract will establish a floor for what constitutes fair treatment and compensation, not a ceiling. At present, there is a ceiling but no floor.

How much will dues cost? Will I have to pay dues even if I don’t have classes?

No one will pay any union dues until we negotiate a contract establishing better terms of employment for non-tenure track faculty. This contract is then ratified by faculty through an election. Dues are 1.5% of our base pay and don’t include bonuses, differentials, or anything on top. There are no initiation fees. No part time faculty member will pay dues for periods of time that you are not receiving a paycheck from the university.

Am I allowed to voice my opinion on unionization?

Yes. Federal law protects your right to organize for union representation. Under the National Labor Relations Act, you have the right to talk to your fellow faculty in the workplace about your views on unionization, organize with your coworkers to make your collective views known, attend meetings to discuss the benefits of union representation, and to distribute information to your coworkers about the union. It is against the law for an employer to threaten, coerce, or retaliate against you for exercising these legal rights in the workplace.

What can I do if I feel intimidated at work, or am retaliated against for voicing my opinion on union representation?

It is your legally protected right to join together with your coworkers to organize for union representation. If you have been threatened or intimidated for exercising your rights in the workplace, please contact Bridget Shea at 213-308-0943 or the National Labor Relations Board, Region 21 at 213-894-5200.

Am I allowed to talk to union organizers during regular work hours?

Yes, you are allowed to talk to union organizers during regular work hours to the same extent as you can talk to other non-university employees while at work.

Am I allowed to distribute literature or flyers to my coworkers during regular work hours?

Yes, you are allowed to distribute literature to your fellow faculty during regular work hours to the same extent as you can distribute other information to colleagues during this time. However, distribution of literature should not interrupt instruction time.

Am I allowed to speak with union organizers on university property?

Yes, you may speak to union organizers on university property. You may speak with an organizer in any area that is not specifically restricted to university personnel.

Can I send emails voicing my opinion on unionization to my coworkers using my university email account?

Yes, you are allowed to send emails to your fellow faculty using your university email account just as you can send emails containing non-work information using your university email account. However, these emails should be sent during nonworking hours.

I signed a union card. What happens next?

We will continue organizing to grow our faculty union on campus. Once we build a diverse network of faculty, we’ll file for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board. After we win the election, we’ll begin negotiating a contract establishing better terms of employment for all contingent faculty.

We filed for a union election, what happens next?

The National Labor Relations Board will review our petition, as well as the University’s response, to determine who will be included in the official bargaining unit. The NLRB will then schedule an election in the coming weeks.

All eligible faculty will have one vote. After we win the election, we will begin the process of bargaining a strong contract for non-tenure track faculty at USC.

My school didn’t file for a union election. What does that mean?

This initial filing is just the beginning. We are continuing to organize and grow our union in every school on campus.

When is the union election happening?

Election dates will be set by the National Labor Relations Board in the coming weeks. Check back soon for updates.

How do I vote in the union election?

Terms of the election will be set by the National Labor Relations Board in the coming weeks. Check back soon for updates.

What effect will unionization have on faculty governance?

The collective power of a union will make our participation in the Academic Senate more meaningful.

While participation in the Academic Senate can work well for addressing academic issues, there are rarely mechanisms for faculty engagement around salaries, benefits, and all other terms of employment.

In the California State University system, the Faculty Senate governs academic issues, while the union negotiates workplace and employment issues. Union members there have successfully used the power of their union to protect faculty voice in academic governance.

What happens when we win our union election?

Faculty will have the opportunity to come together and determine their priorities for their first contract with USC. This means completing bargaining surveys and voting for their representative bargaining team composed of their peers and the backing of their union.

What have faculty at other schools achieved by forming a union?

Across the country, faculty who have organized with SEIU have seen significant gains in wages, benefits, job security, and professional development resources.

Faculty at Whittier College, Tufts University, and Lesley University all made significant gains in their first contracts.

Could we lose benefits we already have?

This has not happened in any faculty contract negotiated by our union, SEIU. In fact, faculty at Whittier College, Tufts University, and Lesley University all made significant gains in their first contract negotiations.