September 2012 Issue
September 05, 2012

Union recognized for success in organizing adjuncts

Author: Matt Smith
Source: NYSUT United
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Caption: NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira accepts the Louis Stollar Award for Advancing the Rights of Contingent Faculty from UUP President Phil Smith at this summer's AFT convention in Detroit. Photo b Karen Mattison.

NYSUT has been honored for its organizing success in higher education, helping thousands of adjunct faculty on college campuses across the state secure collective bargaining rights.

The union was presented the Louis Stollar Award for Advancing the Rights of Contingent Faculty during the American Federation of Teachers' 2012 convention in Detroit.

Stollar — a noted labor organizer, activist and educator who died last year — was a founder and long-serving president of the local union at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. The award was presented to NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira by United University Professions President Phil Smith.

"NYSUT is not only a large and powerful organization that serves its existing membership," Smith said, "it is an organization committed to ongoing organizing and growing the membership of our union."

Over the past decade, NYSUT has succeeded in organizing more than 4,000 adjuncts at 14 colleges and universities across the state, enabling them to have a voice in securing better pay, working conditions, health coverage, and job and retirement protections for themselves and their colleagues.

Neira noted that while NYSUT's organizing success has not come easy, it is especially gratifying given the extraordinary challenges faced in today's pervasive anti-labor climate in which public unions are increasingly — and wrongly — blamed for New York's and the nation's economic struggles.

Smith said most of NYSUT's higher ed organizing activity has focused on private institutions such as Pace University, Dowling College, Cooper Union and Syracuse University.

"This is difficult organizing that requires time and resources to win an election and get a first contract as private employers are more than willing to use stalling and intimidation tactics to prevent a union from successfully winning an election and securing a first contract," he said. "But as you can see from the numbers, NYSUT has stayed committed."

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