October 31, 1997

University of Alaska Adjunct Faculty Unionization Election

Oct. 31, 1997  NR 20-1997

The University of Alaska announced today that on October 31, the Alaska Labor Relations Agency (ALRA) began mailing union representation ballots to the university's nearly 1,000 adjunct or part-time faculty statewide. The election will determine whether adjunct faculty are represented by a union, United Academics - Adjuncts, in negotiations with the university.

Balloting will continue through November and votes will be counted by the ALRA on December 2. The outcome will be determined by a majority of the adjuncts who actually vote. For example: if only 100 adjunct faculty vote, 51 votes would decide the election. Full participation is critical to a meaningful determination of this question. Adjunct faculty who have not received a ballot by November 10, should contact the ALRA at (907) 269-4895 for a replacement ballot kit.

According to the university's Director of Labor Relations, Jim Johnsen, adjunct faculty work part-time for the university and are paid by the course. Johnsen noted that the unionization campaign was started by a small minority of adjuncts who are interested in full time employment and benefits. "While the university would like to be able to provide benefits for these part-time employees, doing so would increase costs and that could reduce course offerings to our students," Johnsen said.

Johnsen stressed that "The majority of adjunct faculty are employed full time in other occupations and teach because they enjoy it, for professional advancement or as a service to the community. Adjunct positions at present serve the needs of the majority of adjuncts and provide the university the flexibility it needs during these times of fiscal constraint. That may well change with unionization."

While this election is going on, the university is appealing the ALRA's decision to lump all adjuncts into one bargaining unit. Johnsen said, "I believe the small minority of adjuncts who have sought union representation have interests which are very different than those of the majority. These interests could possibly lead to domination of this combined collective bargaining unit, to the detriment of the university and the majority of adjuncts."

Johnsen noted that the university's goal is to encourage adjunct faculty to become informed on the issues and vote. "The greater the participation, the more representative the outcome, and voting itself does not result in union membership."

For more information contact:
Jim Johnsen, Director of Labor Relations, (907) 474-7879.