Provost Jasken Sends Email to Adjuncts, Warns of Drawbacks of Unionization

As Adjunct unionization attempts continue, the administration has again decided to speak to the issue. Provost Jasken sent an email to the adjunct faculty today regarding unionization attempts, and in it attempted to warn adjunct faculty about the dangers of unionization.

In the email, Jasken first discusses a variety of orientation and training events that the school has hosted. She also announced that the new Associate Dean of Faculty Development, Wendy Morris, was working with faculty on a number of further training sessions, and that “we are making clear progress in ensuring adjunct faculty have access to a range of robust professional development opportunities.”

Jasken then acknowledged concerns about employee pay, stating that “Unfortunately, the budget realities of the last few years have made it impossible for any faculty or staff constituency to receive raises.” She acknowledged that due to this, it was understandable that adjuncts might look to unionize. However, in the following paragraphs, Jasken warned that unionization has a number of drawbacks that she urged adjuncts to take into consideration.

“Given this financial backdrop, I do understand the temptation to look to an outside group to serve as your advocate.” Wrote Jasken, “At the same time, it is important to be aware that union representation often comes at significant cost and loss of freedom to those who elect to join.”

She then went on to discuss the facts of SEIU (the union with which the adjuncts have been in talks), noting that its stature as a national union that encompasses not only faculty, but nurses, hospital staff, security guards and other assorted service industry workers. She also made a number of claims about how unions can take advantage of their members.

“Once the union begins to engage with the administration in negotiations, it is also important to note that they do not have to represent you to your liking and, in fact, can legally refuse to process your grievance if they do not believe it is worth the effort,” wrote Jasken.

It was also stated that, “The majority of today’s unionized employees never voted to become unionized, but must still pay dues or be fired from their jobs.” She ended the email by saying that she simply desired to present adjunct faculty with facts about unions “so that you have the fullest picture possible,” and that she hoped to continue working with adjuncts to improve their experience at McDaniel.

The Progressive Student Union, which has been advocating for adjunct unionization in the recent months, issued a response to the email, arguing that the claims made by Jasken were spurious and misleading, and that the administration had failed to maintain the neutrality asked of them in a recent petition.

“Our adjuncts have never been truly respected by our administration, and this letter reflects that,” the organization stated, “the student body will not tolerate this blatant attempt at union-busting, and we will not back down in our support of our adjuncts’ right to organize and, if they choose, to unionize.  We stand in our solidarity with our adjuncts.”

Adjunct Professors Adam Schneider and Bob Seidel were less worried regarding the email.

“Much more important is the working and learning conditions on campus, that’s where the focus needs to be,” said Schneider, “and among the people that we’ve been talking to today and over the past weeks the topic has been how do we improve that?”

Seidel also noted that the process on a whole had been a largely positive experience, and that “it’s broadened my experience here, and I already feel like more a part of the community, and look forward to that becoming a more complete experience.”