Labor board rules in favor of staff who teach, P-Fac appeals


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After a 12-day hearing, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that full-time staff who teach part-time are to be represented by the existing bargaining unit, the college’s part-time faculty union.

By Digital Content Manager

The approximately 55 full-time staff members who teach part-time cannot be denied representation by the college’s part-time faculty union, according to an Aug. 30 ruling by the National Labor Relations Board on a petition filed by the United Staff of Columbia College. 

Previously, the adjuncts’ union, P-Fac, contended that it was appropriate to exclude the staff members from the bargaining unit because of its contract with the college.

The decision states that staff who teach are “dual-function” employees and must be included in the existing bargaining unit.

The decision comes after a 12-day hearing between the two unions, as reported May 23 and June 6 by The Chronicle. 

“The outcome is a tremendous sense of relief,” said Tanya Harasym, operations coordinator of the Learning Studio who previously taught in the English and Humanities, History & Social Sciences departments and representative for full-time staff who teach. 

P-Fac disputed the ruling, saying it sets a bad precedent for labor unions. The union is appealing the ruling to the NLRB in Washington D.C., according to Michael Persoon, P-Fac’s attorney and an attorney with Despres, Schwartz & Geoghegan, Ltd.

“We want to do everything to maintain the contract we negotiated for our unit members, and that includes the seniority provision and a work-preservation clause,” Persoon said. “That is our right, and it would be a really extraordinary overreach to try to step in and change that.” 

P-Fac’s current contract, made official in 2013, permits only members of the bargaining unit to teach part time. Denied the right to join P-Fac by union officials, staff members filed an NLRB petition to allow the US of CC to represent them as faculty. The action was denied and later dismissed in the Aug. 30 NLRB ruling. 

The NLRB regional director ruled in 2015 that “there is no question for [staff who teach]…P-Fac is their exclusive bargaining representative” in matters regarding teaching, as reported Nov. 23, 2015, by The Chronicle. 

“We understand [the fight] is not over,” said Mary Badger, director of Theater Facilities in the Theatre Department. “They are going to use every avenue to stall it.” 

Clint Vaupel, a film equipment center technician and an adjunct professor in the Cinema Art + Science Department, said he is pleased with the ruling but foresees more steps along the way before P-Fac recognizes staff who teach.

“There has been a lot of frustration, but people—P-Fac included—have come out in support,” Vaupel said. “All of [the support] really showed during the trial to help come to the proper decision.”

P-Fac President Diana Vallera said in a Sept. 14 press release that if staff who teach and administrators were included, they would make P-Fac into a “company union.” 

“We have filed charges to preserve our contract and the integrity of our union and continue to work for fair wages, due process and a dignified work place,” Vallera said in the press release.

Terence Smith, the college’s special counsel for labor relations, said in a Sept. 14 emailed statement that the two parties requested a meeting with the college to discuss the ruling. 

“The college is analyzing the decision,” Smith said in the statement. “The college is committed to working constructively with both sides to address the decision.”