We’ve put together some FAQs about the process and implications of collective bargaining. Contrary to what the SFAI administration have told faculty in their letters and in private meetings, unionizing will not have a negative effect on anyone’s salary, period. But it does have implications in terms of how your contract works. If we unionize, SFAI faculty will elect faculty representatives in a democratic election who will lead the effort to structure a contract that works for everyone. It doesn’t stop with the representatives, though– all faculty can attend meetings with the representatives and get involved in the terms of the contract. While the contract will apply to all Visiting Faculty at SFAI, it will not stipulate the same terms for everyone; in other words, if we want the build in stipulations for seniority or merit, that is possible.
If SFAI unionizes, will all visiting faculty receive the same salary? In other words, will everyone who has previously negotiated their own contract lose that salary?
No, definitely not. Again, we negotiate the terms of the contract. I highly doubt we would ratify or even propose a wage scale that would not emphasize long time instructors’ commitment and experience and not begin with what we are each already paid. Charles and Rachel’s implication that some of us will lose what we’ve gained could technically be framed as intimidation – an unfair labor practice.
The starting point for negotiations are people’s existing contracts, which are locked in once you enter negotiations. You would negotiate for improvements from there, and would determine the language of the contract yourselves in direct negotiation with SFAI administration.
What kind of time commitment does all this imply? Will I need to attend weekly or monthly meetings?
Not if you don’t want to. You can be as involved in (or disengaged with) the union as you like. The heaviest work is done right after a successful election, when faculty come together to decide on the terms of their contract. It’s advisable to participate in this process, especially if you have specific stipulations that you’d like to put through.
To give a rough idea, though, the SEIU organizers have said that contracts vary in how much time they take to build. After the contract is settled, monthly meetings seem to be the norm. More on this coming soon.