Marquette contingent faculty, grad workers seeking union representation

Hold rally on campus

Non-tenure-track faculty and graduate workers at Marquette University rallied on campus Friday, asking that university administration not interfere in their effort to unionize.

The goal of the union, organizers said, is to provide job security, better wages and health care for the graduate student employees and contingent faculty.

The group is seeking representation from Service Employees International Union (SEIU), following the lead of other Jesuit institutions, including Fordham, Loyola, Georgetown and Saint Louis University.

Dozens marched to the university’s administration office Friday afternoon to present letters with hundreds of signatures, calling on the administration to remain neutral and not stand in the way of the unionization effort.

Several speakers stressed the university’s Jesuit values, saying they are at odds with the treatment of non-tenure track faculty and grad student workers.

“This is a Jesuit university that really wants to live its values and does so already in the community in so many ways, with the SWIM initiative with other things, and yet right under its own nose there’s this major inequity that we have to address,” said, Sue Giaimo, adjunct associate professor of political science and biomedical sciences.

Giamo said she has experienced the uncertainty of living on a year-to-year contract with Marquette for the past 15 years.

“It is hard to never know whether you have a job until two weeks before the semester starts when you actually officially get the contract,” she said. “That puts a lot of stress on myself and my family.”

Thomas Hansberger, a graduate student in the philosophy department, said he knows of graduate student workers who have turned to free food banks to make ends meet.

“That pushes promising academics, particularly from underprivileged backgrounds, out of academia and it makes us all poorer as a result,” he said.

The university released the following statement in response to the rally:

“Our preference is to maintain a direct working relationship with all of our faculty, without a third-party intermediary who does not share our mission, history and commitment to offering a transformational education for students. Marquette’s current operating model of utilizing a mix of tenure-track and non-tenure-track faculty helps control costs, maintain flexibility and offers our students unique perspectives, while at the same time ensuring we are providing the highest-quality transformational education at a price that is competitive with our peer universities.”

According to the university, if the SEIU secures signatures from 30 percent of Marquette’s non-tenure-track faculty members, the National Labor Relations Board will conduct an election. If more than 50 percent of the bargaining unit signs authorization cards, Marquette can either recognize the union or request that the National Labor Relations Board hold an election.

Non-tenure-track faculty and graduate workers at Marquette University rallied on campus Friday, asking that university administration not interfere in their effort to unionize.

The goal of the union, organizers said, is to provide job security, better wages and health care for the graduate student employees and contingent faculty.

The group is seeking representation from Service Employees International Union (SEIU), following the lead of other Jesuit institutions, including Fordham, Loyola, Georgetown and Saint Louis University.

Dozens marched to the university’s administration office Friday afternoon to present letters with hundreds of signatures, calling on the administration to remain neutral and not stand in the way of the unionization effort.

Several speakers stressed the university’s Jesuit values, saying they are at odds with the treatment of non-tenure track faculty and grad student workers.

“This is a Jesuit university that really wants to live its values and does so already in the community in so many ways, with the SWIM initiative with other things, and yet right under its own nose there’s this major inequity that we have to address,” said, Sue Giaimo, adjunct associate professor of political science and biomedical sciences.

Giamo said she has experienced the uncertainty of living on a year-to-year contract with Marquette for the past 15 years.

“It is hard to never know whether you have a job until two weeks before the semester starts when you actually officially get the contract,” she said. “That puts a lot of stress on myself and my family.”

Thomas Hansberger, a graduate student in the philosophy department, said he knows of graduate student workers who have turned to free food banks to make ends meet.

“That pushes promising academics, particularly from underprivileged backgrounds, out of academia and it makes us all poorer as a result,” he said.

The university released the following statement in response to the rally:

“Our preference is to maintain a direct working relationship with all of our faculty, without a third-party intermediary who does not share our mission, history and commitment to offering a transformational education for students. Marquette’s current operating model of utilizing a mix of tenure-track and non-tenure-track faculty helps control costs, maintain flexibility and offers our students unique perspectives, while at the same time ensuring we are providing the highest-quality transformational education at a price that is competitive with our peer universities.”

According to the university, if the SEIU secures signatures from 30 percent of Marquette’s non-tenure-track faculty members, the National Labor Relations Board will conduct an election. If more than 50 percent of the bargaining unit signs authorization cards, Marquette can either recognize the union or request that the National Labor Relations Board hold an election.

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