The SEIU Assault on American Colleges and Universities
By Al Kaltman
Unheralded and virtually unnoticed, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has been pushing its way into the halls of America’s universities and colleges. Not content to restrict its activities to food workers and non-supervisory personnel, the Union has moved on to organizing part-time faculty.
The SEIU now has its tentacles wrapped around private institutions like the George Washington University in Washington, DC, and public institutions such as the Maine and Connecticut community colleges. Through the vehicle of union certification elections the SEIU is determined to convert America’s colleges and universities into union shops, and unfortunately the SEIU is succeeding.
In an attempt to keep their ever rising costs under some semblance of control, US colleges and universities employ large numbers of adjunct faculty—untenured part-time professors who teach one or two courses per semester. The salaries paid to adjuncts are relatively low, and since they are not tenured they may be terminated at will. The SEIU has cleverly recognized that the way to breach the walls of higher education is by organizing the adjunct faculty, who are often disenchanted with their low salaries, inadequate office space, overcrowded classes, lack of benefits, and at will employee status. The SEIU lures them with promises of higher salaries, and work rules that will prevent their being fired as long as they continue to pay the Union dues.
The Union calls election after election until an exhausted administration gives in
College and university administrations do attempt to protect their rights as employers, but the SEIU is persistent. The Union calls election after election until an exhausted administration gives in. If the Union cannot win an election that would allow it to organize an entire university’s faculty, the SEIU will drop its demands to organize those segments of the adjunct faculty which are preventing it from being certified. By analyzing the results of each election, and adjusting its demands accordingly, the Union eventually hits upon a winning strategy and gains a foothold at the university. The promises made by the SEIU to redress adjunct faculty grievances are often the key component of a successful Union strategy to win certification and turn the college or university into a union shop.
In accordance with the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, every employee in a union shop must either join the union and pay union dues, or if the employee does not choose to join the union, the employee must pay the union an agency fee which is equal to the union dues less that amount which the union determines is not required for contract negotiations, monitoring and enforcement. The agency fee the SEIU charges is 82 percent of the union dues.
The pernicious effect of having adjunct faculty at our colleges and universities unionized is that the few remaining conservatives and principled independents teaching at these institutions will either have to contribute to an organization that none of them in good conscience can support and that many of them find repulsive, destructive of American values and vile in nature, or they will have to quit teaching. Some may choose to hold their noses and pay the SEIU its blood money, but I expect many will choose to leave. As a result of the actions by the SEIU, what little resistance remains against the tide of leftist liberalism that has swept through our colleges and universities will be washed away.
America’s private colleges and universities are under attack by the Obama administration
As recent articles in the Economist have pointed out, America’s private colleges and universities are under attack by the Obama administration, and American institutions of higher education are falling behind. US colleges and universities were once the finest in the world. Today, they run the risk of ending up like General Motors. As the SEIU continues to rack up unionizing successes, more and more institutions of higher learning will find that they can no longer fire incompetent professors and that some of their best and brightest teachers are choosing to leave rather than pay to support an organization they detest. If the SEIU has its way, America’s colleges and universities will find themselves in a headlong free-fall to the bottom.
Originally published in the Canada Free Press. Used here with permission.