Organizers with the Temple Association of University Professionals are ramping up advocacy efforts ahead of a mail-ballot election for about 1,400 adjuncts to join the union, which represents the university’s full-time faculty.
The Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board announced last week that adjuncts will receive ballots in the mail by Nov. 5. Those are due back to the labor board’s Harrisburg office by Nov. 24 and will be counted the following day.
“One box says that you choose TAUP to be your representative, or you can choose ‘no representation,’ a no vote,” TAUP President Art Hochner told The Temple News Friday.
“It’s a secret ballot,” Hochner added. “If you put your name on it, they have to get rid of it.”
PLRB Hearing Examiner John Pozniak handed down a decision Sept. 29 which allowed adjuncts in the non-professional schools the vote to join TAUP. The ruling also classified department chairs as administrators and not faculty, making them ineligible for inclusion in the faculty union.
Since the first rumblings of possible adjunct unionization, organizers and some adjuncts have held rallies and encouraged the part-time faculty to vote in this election. Tactics have included waiting for prospective voters outside classrooms and even home visits.
The adjunct faculty have lobbied for a pay grade above the $3,900-per-course minimum, health benefits and more communication on class schedules before the start of the semester.
Shannon Wink, an adjunct in the journalism department who teaches two courses and works for digital news startup Billy Penn, told The Temple News of an encounter with a TAUP recruiter who visited her Fishtown home about 8 p.m. Wednesday.
Wink, who changed her last name from McDonald when she married Technical.ly Philly Editorial Director Chris Wink in July, had already been visited twice in the spring semester by recruiters before her marriage and concluded after the second visit that she wasn’t interested, having a secure salary and health benefits from her current job. She asked the union not to contact her again.
“My voice is not the same as someone who’s saying, ‘I need health benefits from you, or I need more stability or X number of credits.’ Those are not my issues,” Wink said. “I don’t know why someone who relies on [teaching] for their livelihood would want me to represent them.”
She was angry the campaigning had extended to her home and didn’t know the union had been given her address.
Organizers with the American Federation of Teachers told Wink she was likely contacted because there was only a record of a Shannon McDonald, who wasn’t interested in the union. The PLRB gave mailing addresses of all eligible adjuncts to the union following the ruling.
“If you thought I was a new person you needed to reach out to, for the love of God, why is showing up at my door your first course of action?” Wink said.
“Home visits to eligible voters is a constant for political campaigns,” Hochner told The Temple News on Friday. “It’s going to happen this weekend.” The union has visited hundreds of their houses, he said. He added the union’s common practice is to meet potential voters in classrooms if they don’t have offices on campus.
“If we had known it was the same person, we never would have visited,” Hochner said. ‘We’d have known where they stand.”
Hochner encouraged anyone who has had an issue with a union recruiter to contact him. “We’ll find out if they did anything wrong,” he said. “We want to make sure we’re not antagonizing anybody, but we want to get the word out too.”
Joe Brandt can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @JBrandt_TU.
Editor’s note: Both Shannon and Chris Wink are former editors at The Temple News and donated $500 to our newspaper during their wedding this summer. They did not contribute to the editing process of this article.