I am grateful we have quickly reached an election agreement with the SEIU and affirm that the University honors our colleagues’ right to determine the outcome best for them. This is a historic decision for Santa Clara – one that will fundamentally change how we work together for years to come. I encourage everyone within the bargaining unit to make sure their voice is heard by voting.
As has been said before, there are no adversaries here. I believe that everyone – myself, the Provost’s office, our trustees, the organizing committee, and all faculty and staff – love and want Santa Clara to thrive. For that to happen, we need to continue our intentional and inclusive work to ensure all colleagues can build meaningful careers here while contributing to our mission. Much has been accomplished in that regard. The question now before the bargaining unit is how we continue moving forward – by working together or through a third party.
It is the University’s position – and my belief – that we are better continuing to work together. Here is why.
The duties, responsibilities and backgrounds of our non-tenure-track faculty are quite diverse. Our current collaborative governance model recognizes that, yet collective bargaining typically does not. Ultimately, the SEIU will bargain with one point of view to represent the interests of over 540 individuals. But the needs of the four schools included – and those who teach in those schools - vary considerably.
Our community has been through a lot over the past five-plus years, with transitions in leadership, natural disasters, the pandemic, our national racial reckoning, and more. Despite these and other pressures, our collective governance model drove important progress towards improving pay, benefits, job security and more for our non-tenure-track colleagues. We have more work to do, to be sure. However, should we need to collectively bargain over those matters, we essentially will be starting a brand new, often lengthy process with no guaranteed outcome.
Lastly, my belief is our community needs more collaboration and understanding, not division. The unionization of a portion of our faculty has the potential to create a deeper “us vs. them” dynamic that detracts – not adds – to our culture and our mission.
Ultimately, the decision is up to the proposed bargaining unit. My hope is every one of the 540 plus non-tenure-track faculty included in the bargaining unit makes a fully informed choice that is best for them and makes that choice known by voting. Along with providing information about the University’s position and other matters, we will also continue to share important information about the election process itself.
Lisa A. Kloppenberg