Skidmore asks feds to consider delaying and limiting union vote

Skidmore College

Skidmore College

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Skidmore College on Tuesday asked labor regulators to delay a faculty union vote until the Fall 2022 semester so that the maximum number of eligible  voters will be on hand to vote.

The college also asked the National Labor Relations Board to consider whether certain faculty members should be allowed to vote, or whether they should be part of the same bargaining unit.

“This is the appropriate time to pose questions so that the NLRB, as the impartial federal arbiter, can decide them and so that we can share with our colleagues important information that is relevant to their individual decisions,” Michael Orr, dean of the faculty and vice president for academic affairs, wrote in a message to the campus community Tuesday.

The union seeking to organize the non-tenure-track faculty said it was disappointed in what it called a standard divide-and-conquer tactic to thwart unionization.

Organizers say they are seeking representation through SEIU Local 200United to gain better compensation and job security for the roughly 170 non-tenure track instructors who make up a significant portion of the teaching staff at the private liberal arts college. They’d also like a greater voice in campus affairs.

On May 6, they submitted to the NLRB a petition signed by more than 60% of these faculty members seeking a vote on unionizing. They asked the college to recognize the union, and make an election unnecessary, but the college declined.

In his message to the campus Tuesday, Orr said Skidmore’s formal response to the petition asked NLRB to consider which non-tenure-track employees have managerial duties, and therefore would not be eligible to vote, and asked it to consider whether full- and part-time non-tenure-track employees truly have the same interests, and should be represented by the same bargaining unit.

The faculty organizing committee pushed back on the suggestions.

“Both of these claims are demonstrably false,” it said in response. “NTT faculty are systematically excluded from the sorts of roles on campus that would make them managers. Full- and part-time NTT faculty quite obviously share interests as teachers and scholars, which is why a substantial majority of them have requested voluntary recognition of our union.”

It said 105 of the roughly 170 potential union members are full-timers.

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