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Skidmore adjuncts seeking unionization file petitions

The Skidmore College sign on North Broadway in Saratoga Springs
Lucas Willard
The North Broadway entrance to Skidmore College

Skidmore College non-tenure-track faculty rallied on campus today as they take steps to unionize.

The group Skidmore Faculty Forward with SEIU Local 200 United has filed petitions for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board.

Speaking to a crowd gathered outside the Case Student Center, Skidmore Classics Professor Amy Oh said the effort to unionize among her fellow non-tenure-track coworkers has been a long time coming.

“And every effort along the way has been nothing short of Herculean. And as a result of our heroic labor, last week we publicly announced our intention and are looking forward to holding a union election with 65 percent of NTT faculty in support,” said Oh.

Organizers say the private college in Saratoga Springs relies heavily on adjunct instructors with no job security.

Standing in solidarity with NTT faculty members Friday were local labor leaders, Skidmore students, and tenure-track faculty, including Dom Vuvan, an Assistant Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience.

“Supporting this union means that we are going to be affirming and upholding our commitment as Skidmore Community members to the values that Skidmore holds most dear. Right? The values of equity, inclusion, diversity, support, well-being – these are things that are written on that website, they are things that bring us as faculty, as staff, as students to come work at this institution because we believe in those values,” said Vuvan.

Sociology major Liana Heath was one of a handful students to speak.

“Non-tenure track faculty are not replaceable, they are integral. The Skidmore administration and board should honor them by recognizing their union now,” said Heath.

SEIU Union Rep Sean Collins said what comes next is not yet known, as election dates have not been set, but claims the Skidmore Administration is prepared to fight the effort.

“They do not want NTT faculty to have a seat at the table, they do not want them to be able to bargain over the terms and conditions of employment. They do not want them to have security. They do not want them to have pay equity. And they’re going to fight tooth and nail to prevent them from organizing, and so we’re going to need all of you, and your co-workers, and your unions, and your roommates on campus, everyone on this entire campus community in order to overcome this fight ahead of us. But we will win, and we will prevail, and then we will win again at the bargaining table.”

The Skidmore College administration provided a statement to WAMC that reads:

"We respect our non-tenure track faculty colleagues and the contributions they make to our students' success and to enriching campus life at Skidmore College. We also respect their legal right to join a union if they wish to do so. The decision about union membership is a personal choice. Employees have a right to vote by secret ballot in an election conducted by federal officials. It is not the College's place to preemptively substitute its judgment for that of individual employees, nor would be it be appropriate for the College to waive our employees' right to vote. If the union is certified as the employees' representative, Skidmore will, of course, work constructively and bargain in good faith, just as we do with the six other employee unions on campus, with which we have good working relationships."

By way of disclosure, WAMC hosts a news bureau on the Skidmore College campus.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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