Skip to main content

Bargaining FAQs

SEIU Faculty Union at Santa Clara

What is the role of a union?

A union is an employee organization created, governed, and regulated by a series of mostly federal laws. When a union is certified, it becomes the sole and exclusive representative of all employees in the “collective bargaining unit” to bargain with management on issues such as wages, hours, benefits and many working conditions and employment terms. Once certified, the union is empowered to negotiate future contracts with the employer on behalf of the bargaining unit employees.

What is a collective bargaining unit?

A collective bargaining unit is a group of employees in job positions with a sufficient “community of interest” for a union to represent them. When a union is elected to represent a bargaining unit, all current and future employees holding those positions would be included in that bargaining unit and must accept representation by the union, regardless of whether they want to be represented by the union or not.

Who is in the bargaining unit?

SEIU represents most non-tenure-track faculty in the College of Arts & Sciences, Leavey School of Business, School of Engineering, and School of Education and Counseling Psychology. The School of Law and Jesuit School of Theology are not included in the bargaining unit (see below).

Can faculty opt-out of being in the union?

Whether employees can “opt out” of becoming union members is a different question than whether they can opt out of the bargaining unit. While employees cannot opt out of the bargaining unit, whether they are also required to become members of the union is a matter of bargaining between the employer and the union.  Typically, unions attempt to require all members of the bargaining unit to become members of the union.  This is called a “closed shop.”  As it is a subject of bargaining, the SEIU would need to approve an "open shop," whereby employees can decide to become members in the union or not.

Who is excluded from the bargaining unit?

The following have been excluded from the bargaining unit:

All tenured faculty, members of a religious community and ordained clergy, Program Directors, Department Chairs, Promotion to Senior Lecturer Committees, tenure-track faculty, non-tenure track faculty in the School of Law, non-tenure-track faculty in the Jesuit School of Theology, faculty in Appointments-in Residence appointed under section, Visiting Faculty appointed under section, Postdoctoral Fellows appointed under section, trustees, officers, administrators, managers, confidential employees, office clerical employees, security guards, and supervisors as defined by the National Labor Relations Act. 

What about people who volunteer their time?

Typically, if the work is covered under the collective bargaining agreement, it must be done by a union (bargaining unit) employee paid according to the terms of the agreement.

What are typical union member dues?

Typically union dues range between 1.5 and 2.0% of pay. From time to time, special assessments may be imposed as well. Dues are set by the union, and in this case, the SEIU will determine both the amount and timing for the payment of dues.

What is the SEIU?

SEIU Local 1021 represents nearly 60,000 employees in local governments, non-profit agencies, health care programs and schools throughout Northern California. At Santa Clara University, the SEIU also represents our maintenance and grounds employees. Members are subject to their unit collective bargaining agreement and the SEIU constitution and by-laws.


Collective Bargaining

How does it work?

The bargaining teams for the administration and the faculty will meet either in person or by Zoom call to compare and discuss various proposals from either side affecting the terms, benefits, and conditions of employment (which are “mandatory” subjects) as well as other items of interest or importance to either the administration or faculty. The proposals and counter-proposals will form the basis of negotiations that hopefully lead to a final contract.

When will bargaining begin?

Our first session is January 26, 2023. The full calendar can be found on the Bargaining Schedule page.

Who participates in bargaining?

The administration and the bargaining-unit faculty have each formed their bargaining team. The Administration’s Team includes Ed Ryan, Acting Provost; Kitty Murphy, Associate Provost for Faculty Personnel and Policy; and Dennis Brown, External Legal Counsel.

The Faculty Bargaining Team includes Brian Buckley, Philosophy, A&S; Maggie Levantovskaya, English, A&S; Deirdre Frontczak, Management, LSB; Natalie Linnell, Mathematics & Computer Science, A&S; Patricia Cameron-Loyd, Economics, LSB; Seiko Fujii (alternate), Modern Languages & Literatures, College of Arts & Sciences; and Nato Green, SEIU.

Why are lawyers involved?

A collective bargaining contract is a legally binding contract.  As with any significant university legal commitment, the terms and conditions of the contract need to be reviewed and vetted by counsel.  We presume the SEIU will involve their legal counsel as well.

How long will bargaining take?

We can’t predict. Often, it takes up to a year to reach a first contract as there are many nuances and issues to consider. Future contract negotiations should occur over the course of months.


Shared Governance

How will a union impact collaborative governance?

When a group of employees elects to be represented by a union, the union becomes their exclusive representative for purposes of bargaining with the employer over wages, hours and working conditions. An employer violates sections 8(a)(1) and (5) of the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. §158(a)(1)(5) when it deals with represented employees directly or through the use of intermediaries who are not their designated representative. With respect to shared governance, committees that review and make recommendations concerning mandatory subjects of bargaining act unlawfully as they usurp the exclusive representational rights of the union.

The administration remains committed to the collaborative governance process, whereby the administration and stakeholders collaborate in policy committees to develop policy proposals for wider consultation and administrative decisions. We consider this the appropriate locus for collaboration on topics affecting members of the bargaining unit that lie outside the mandatory subjects (wages, hours and working conditions), such as academic affairs (curriculum, academic programs). There is also room to move forward on certain issues that remain from last year if they involve a clarification of current practice—like clarification of the “persistent programmatic need” (PPN) formula or assuring the distribution of faculty by department on a Senior Lecturer Promotion committee.