SFAI Dean Rachel Schreiber has an apparently complex relationship to questions about labor. Her book, Modern Print Activism in the United States, “focus[es] on specific groups, individuals, and causes that relied on print as a vehicle for activism”. Past classes that she has taught include “Sex Work, Real Work”, which deals with questions of labor in the sex industry. On May 5, she wrote the following letter to SFAI faculty denouncing the Service Employees International Union and discouraging the faculty from seeking union representation.
Election Ballots will be mailed to you next Monday, May 12, for the upcoming election that will allow to decide whether to remain independent and have a direct relationship with the Art Institute, or join the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Your ballots must be received by the NLRB in San Francisco no later than May 28 in order to be counted. Please make sure you mail your ballot by May 26, 2014.
SFAI encourages you to vote No.
You have already received a great deal of information about this important election; I would like to make two vital points:
If you do not vote, others will decide for you.
This election will be decided by 51% of those who vote. If you receive a ballot in the mail, that means you will be subject to the contract negotiations that will ensue if the SEIU is voted in. Don’t let others decide for you!
The key question: Is SEIU the right union for you?
There are very significant issues facing adjunct faculty at most institutions, including SFAI. But this particular election will not guarantee solutions to these problems. Instead, this election will only decide if you commit to having SEIU represent you.
I believe SEIU is not the right union. That is why I encourage you to vote no.
Among my reasons why you should vote against unionization by SEIU:
* SEIU has made questionable promises to you — they cannot make guarantees regarding pay increases, job security, or other benefits prior to negotiations.
* SEIU has been criticized for “charges of coziness with big employers, limits on internal democracy, excessive deference to Democratic party leaders and frequent clashes with other unions.” [Source: http://inthesetimes.com/article/13471/wrong_union_for_the_job]
* SEIU does not have a long history with higher education, and certainly not with small independent colleges. They have not yet negotiated a contract with an art school, so there are many unknowns.
Signing on to SEIU would be a big commitment, and despite what they say, it’s not an easy one to undo.
More information about why SEIU is not right for you is available at: sfaivote.org.
I wish you the best as classes end this week.