ALBANY, N.Y., June 16, 2008 - Withstanding more than 18 months of an expensive anti-union campaign waged by their employer, non-faculty staff at Marymount Manhattan College voted for union representation with New York State UnitedTeachers. The National Labor Relations Board certified results of the vote on June 9.
"On behalf of NYSUT's 600,000 members across the state, we welcome our new Marymount colleagues to our organization," said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi. "Their unity and courage in the face of such a hostile campaign speaks to the need and desire of many college employees for a voice on the job."
The campaign was hard-fought because of the college's use of the expensive and notorious anti-union firm, Jackson-Lewis, whose Web site proudly proclaims the firm "has assisted many employers in winning NLRB elections or in avoiding union elections altogether." That wasn't the case at Marymount Manhattan - notwithstanding conservative estimates that the college paid Jackson-Lewis more than a million dollars trying to defeat the union drive.
Though an overwhelming majority of MMC staff first petitioned the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for representation back in September 2006, employer-initiated delays - including a 46-day NLRB hearing and subsequent legal appeals - resulted in the election not being held until March 13 of this year. When the votes were finally counted on May 30, results showed staff voted 65-27 in favor of joining NYSUT.
"It's a fantastic feeling to have made it this far. Of course, the true finish line is a contract for the staff of the college, but that's the last leg of what has seemed, at times, like an endless race," said Ross Chappell, operations director for the Fine and Performing Arts Division, who spent five days testifying at the NLRB. "Staff deserves to be treated as the professionals they are. We've long since left the days of the 'typing pool.'"
It was only after the May 30 count that MMC President Judson Shaver sent an e-mail to all college staff, saying: "We are pleased that this process is concluded and look forward to putting this matter finally behind us." Many of the union activists are taking the president's remark as a change in philosophy and, hopefully, action, as well.
The new NYSUT affiliate, calling itself Marymount Union of Staff Employees or MUSE, will now prepare for contract negotiations.
NYSUT, the state's largest union, represents more than 600,000 classroom teachers and other school employees; faculty and other professionals at the state's community colleges, State University of New York and City University of New York, and other education and health professionals. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and AFL-CIO.