UW Faculty Forward held two faculty driven public union meetings on the UW Tacoma campus on Wednesday, November 18th in hopes of raising awareness and expanding Faculty Forward. During the meeting they shared their beliefs regarding the need for a faculty based union between the three UW campuses to their fellow faculty members.
UW Faculty Forward was established in spring of 2015, since then, the organization has successfully relayed their message throughout state of Washington, and have met with Governor Jay Inslee to discuss the purpose and concerns of the union.
James Liner, a lecturer in the CAC (Culture, Arts, and Communication division) department said, “The corporatization of higher education has been one of the main focal points in our campaign.”
Liner says the campaign is focusing on the state of Washington, but believes that the problem is an American education issue as a whole, saying “corporatization of education affects faculty and students in a number of different ways, you might not notice it unless you know where to look for it.”
The union group is fighting for more security and protection for faculty members who are not considered tenured employees. “It is much more difficult for faculty to feel secure in a classroom or department meetings, it makes speaking to your convictions and to advocate what they think is important much more difficult because they are vulnerable to retribution in some way,” said Liner, “Now some of this is very potential, I have no fear for my job.”
This raises an interesting point for students on campus; if teachers do not feel comfortable in the classroom, are we learning as much as we possibly can?
“No,” said Liner.
“Corporatization impacts the quality of teaching and learning because if [professors across the campus] don’thave the protections of tenure we leave ourselves vulnerable if we teach something difficult, or unpopular subjects,” said Liner.
UW Faculty Forward also brings up issues of change in faculty, part-time faculty security, and budget constraints—hiring non-competitive lecturers, they are also in favor of lowering student’s tuition costs and increased student debt loans.
“The road to building a successful union is a long, complicated and often difficult process,” said Liner during the UW Faculty Forward meeting. There are four stages that need to be accomplished in order for unionization to be accomplished.
The first is to obtain 30 percent signed signature cards by supporters—which is equivalent to 2,000 cards in total. These cards will have to be signed by UW faculty on all three campuses. As a whole UW (Seattle, Tacoma and Bothell) will have to hit the 30 percent signature mark by spring of next year in order for the signatures to be valid.
The second step is to file the signatures, and the third (if 30 percent signatures are obtained and accepted) is the election. The union must obtain 50 percent of the voter’s approval. And lastly, they must bargain contract with the university.
“I’d like to see a contract that provides more security and protection for lecturers and other faculty without tenure,” said Liner, “As a way to recognize our professionalism and our work.”
Currently, UW Faculty Forward is in the process of obtaining signatures in hopes of reaching the 30 percent requirement and moving on to the next step in the process.
To learn more about UW Faculty Forward visit uwfacultyforward.org