Ballots cast by adjunct and contingent faculty at Seattle University in their union election have finally been unsealed. Following more than two years of delays and legal challenges by the Seattle University administration, the ballots were counted and adjunct and contingent faculty have won their union!
The administration entered the vote count hoping to stop faculty from winning by challenging 15 ballots, claiming that faculty who taught courses including “Postcolonial Literature,” “Ecopsychology” and “Ethical Reasoning in Business” were teaching courses of such a religious character that the faculty who taught them needed to be excluded. Despite those ballots being challenged, faculty still won with the final count of 73 – 63.
Seattle University faculty began organizing a union in 2013 in order to win fair pay, better job security, and a stronger voice on campus. Since voting for a union in May 2014, faculty have persevered through four appeals made by the administration. They have walked out of classrooms, occupied buildings, fasted for justice, and some even committed civil disobedience, all in their quest to gain union recognition.
This is a major victory after a long, hard battle! While the road to unionization may not have been as rapid as our SU sisters and brothers had hoped, they have inspired many other private and religious institutions to follow their lead. Nationally, their peers have admired their courage to take action. We hope that the SU administration will respect the results of the vote and commit to sit down with us in bargaining our first contract.