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Common Union Myths

Dues are expensive! I don’t want to spend all that extra money every month.

→ Dues pay for themselves! They support our ability to maintain a strong union and to enforce our eventual contract with the administration. Dues are determined on a sliding scale, based on salary, and we won’t start paying dues until after we ratify our contract. Full-time faculty dues are capped at $77/month; most part-time faculty will pay around $35/month, based on their total income and only during the months they are teaching. Finally, we won’t agree to a contract that doesn’t include a salary increase that covers the cost of dues.

I really like my benefits, and I don’t want to lose them. Won’t a new contract affect those?

→We would never agree to a contract with worse benefits than what we already have. If our negotiations alter an existing benefit, that will be because we all agreed by vote that it was a better deal than our current system. Collective bargaining won’t diminish our benefits–it will ensure our ability to keep the benefits that matter.

SEIU’s standard contract language includes the following: “No bargaining unit member shall incur the loss of any benefits or compensation enjoyed prior to the execution of this Agreement as a result of this Agreement.” Particularly in first contract negotiations, preserving existing benefits is a top priority. Memorializing these in a collective bargaining agreement ensures that they can never be taken away without union member approval.

I don’t want a third party interfering in college business.

→ Neither do we. The union isn’t a third party—we are the union! Skidmore NTT faculty lead this process: we organize and vote to form a union, we elect a negotiating committee to bargain a contract with the College, we decide the terms of the contract we negotiate, and we govern our chapter of SEIU.

I’m worried that creating a union will create conflict at the college. Won’t the administration resent us? What if they retaliate? 

→ Unions are built on solidarity. Skidmore NTT faculty want to work cooperatively to build better working conditions for everyone. The same goes for our relationship with the administration: we want to work together towards a better, more secure campus environment, a goal we think the administration shares. Finally, we are legally entitled to protection from retaliatory action and are supported by SEIU legal services. The College has publicly affirmed that there will be no retaliatory action taken against anyone.

I don’t want to go on strike—I’m worried about losing pay and harming my students. 

→ We don’t want to go on strike either. Strike actions are a democratically-decided last resort; if we ever get to that point, members would vote on whether or not to strike. But strikes only happen when the administration refuses to negotiate in good faith, and we’re confident that Skidmore is ready to work with us on a fair contract.

I don’t want a one-size-fits-all contract. My job is different from those of my colleagues, and I’m worried that a single contract won’t address my needs.

The contract we agree to will be the umbrella agreement between us and the college. But we get to choose what goes under that umbrella, and it’s standard for union contracts to include many different roles, job descriptions, and levels of seniority. 

A collective bargaining agreement typically sets minimum compensation and benefit rates across categories, not maximums, meaning that no faculty member should experience a pay or benefit cut as a result of bargaining. SEIU’s standard contract language includes the following clause to ensure this: “No bargaining unit member shall incur the loss of any benefits or compensation enjoyed prior to the execution of this Agreement as a result of this Agreement.”

I want to continue to participate in college governance. Won’t a union keep us from doing that?

A collective bargaining agreement will not categorically exclude NTT faculty from participating in shared governance. There are a limited number of NTT faculty who hold supervisory roles, defined as a role in which an employee has hiring, firing, and disciplinary power over another employee. Those roles have already been excluded from the bargaining unit. SEIU has committed to maintaining NTT faculty’s existing rights and role in shared governance while working to make sure that labor is fairly compensated.

Still have questions? Email and an organizer will get back to you!

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