A Message from Provost Holden Thorp

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board seeking to become the exclusive representative of all full-time non-tenure track faculty in Arts & Sciences for purposes of collective bargaining with the University over the terms and conditions of their employment. On this site, we share information about the upcoming election and important context regarding the petition.

At Washington University, we always strive to maintain open lines of communication, and the Offices of the Provost and the Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences always value hearing concerns of faculty. This dialogue has allowed us to recognize and address matters of importance and concern. For example, the University recently adopted the Danforth Campus Policy on Full-Time Teaching Track Faculty to establish a formal path for career advancement (including a new Teaching Professor rank) and to enhance job security by providing for multi-year appointments. We value this process of collaboration toward our shared goal of ensuring that Washington University continues to be a special place to work and learn.

Union representation would significantly alter the work environment of all full-time fixed-term faculty by injecting a third-party into the discussion. Today we share a collaborative relationship where we work together to further our shared goal of providing the highest quality education for our students. We have a track record of successfully working together to address issues of concern. And we aspire to always do better in that effort. For many reasons – especially the experience the university has had since the SEIU began representing some of the part-time faculty on our campus – I and the rest of the university leadership believe that SEIU representation is not in the best interests of the university, our faculty or our students. We did not come to that conclusion lightly, but having formed that view, we think it is it important to share our perspective.

Ultimately, what matters most is the opinion of those who will cast ballots in the election. Because this is an important decision with long-term consequences, it is important that everyone understands the importance of voting in the election. The election will be decided by a majority of those eligible voters who actually vote. The results will be binding on all eligible voters regardless of how they voted or whether they voted at all. The election also will be binding on future full-time faculty who did not have the opportunity to vote.

We want anyone who will be asked to cast a ballot in this election to be informed about unions in general, the SEIU in particular, and the NLRB election and collective bargaining processes. Over the next several weeks, we will be providing additional information about these and other important topics. I encourage serious consideration be given to these communications.

Dean Barbara Schaal and I are available anytime to answer any questions you may have about the election process or the prospect of SEIU representation.

H. Holden Thorp
Holden Thorp