A conference call scheduled on Feb. 10 to discuss an election for unionizing adjunct professors was canceled after university officials “raised technical and legal objections,” said Art Hochner, president of the Temple Association of University Professionals.
Adjuncts filed for authorization cards in mid-December with the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board to unionize for TAUP, which represents about 1,400 full-time faculty members, not including those who instruct in the health professional buildings.
“[The university doesn’t] seem to want the adjuncts to unionize,” Hochner said. “This is simply about giving adjuncts the chance to vote. Temple doesn’t have to do anything but let them have their self-determination.”
Senior Associate University Counsel Susan Smith, who is regularly involved in legal disputes involving faculty, said in an email that the conference call was canceled after Temple raised issues.
“Temple raised questions about the role of UAP because that union is identified on the signature cards that adjuncts were asked to sign in support of possible unionization, but UAP is not a party to the petition that ultimately was filed last December,” Smith said. She said the PLRB will likely discuss that claim at the hearing.
Sharon Boyle, associate vice president for human resources operations, said the two called the PLRB representative, but made the union “aware of the matters that need to be resolved.”
“We indicated that there were matters to be resolved through hearing,” Boyle said.
The next step toward potential unionization is a hearing scheduled for March 19 with the PLRB in Harrisburg, where the university, adjuncts and adjunct representatives will be able to discuss differences of opinion.
Until then, a rally and vigil “in support of a collective bargaining election for adjunct faculty” will be held at 11 a.m. on Feb. 23 at the corner of Broad Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue.
Hochner said the event is being held to “get Temple’s attention so [that] maybe they’ll change their mind.”
Also, that Wednesday, Feb. 25, is “National Adjunct Walkout Day,” when adjuncts at schools like the University of Arizona and Ohio State plan to leave class. The event’s website does not disclose whether Temple adjuncts plan to participate in that event.
A group of adjunct professors who make up the Temple Adjunct Organizing Committee released a letter to The Temple News explaining its viewpoint on the situation.
“Unfortunately, Temple’s administration is delaying the process because they don’t respect us,” the letter reads. “Provost Dai continues to send misleading and offensive emails to adjunct faculty discouraging us from unionizing. His actions show that he regards us as nothing more than cheap labor. If Temple’s administration values education, they will remain neutral and let us vote yes or no to have a union now. This is a matter of simple justice.”
Joe Brandt and Patricia Madej can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org