Dornsife Unionization Re-Vote is Postponed Indefinitely – 9/7/16

Dear Dornsife Teaching-Track Faculty Colleagues:

Last Friday, I heard from a reporter that Service Employees International Union Local 721 had asked the National Labor Relations Board to block the upcoming Dornsife unionization re-vote. I was surprised because it was SEIU Local 721 that sought the re-vote in the first place. They made this request very close to the start of the voting — two days after we sent you the NLRB’s Notice of Second Election. SEIU Local 721 did not inform us of their blocking request, and under the NLRB rules, the request was granted without giving us a chance to respond. Thus the Dornsife re-vote, originally scheduled to begin September 14th, has now been postponed — indefinitely.

I find it very unfortunate that SEIU Local 721 chose to do this because I believe you should have had the opportunity to make your views known once again, as you did last January when you rejected unionization. SEIU Local 721 could have filed its new unfair labor practice charges while still allowing the re-vote to take place. I believe their decision to block the election shows that they do not think the faculty majority supports unionization.

So that you are all fully informed, I am attaching the union’s statement, which the reporter gave to us, in case SEIU Local 721 did not share it with you.

Allow me to offer a few thoughts. While the union’s statement says that the “USC Faculty Union” asked to block the election, the request was actually made by SEIU Local 721, the organization that is trying to unionize you. I was struck by the fact that the union does not provide you any details regarding its action. And, I find it a bit ironic that SEIU Local 721 accuses USC of trying “to keep workers from having a voice” at the same time it is blocking an election that would allow your voice to be heard.

It seems to me there is little in the statement about the needs of Dornsife faculty or how SEIU Local 721 plans to address them. Instead I see boilerplate language that does not look like it was written by faculty or addressed to an academic community. One of the few specifics I drew from their statement is that SEIU Local 721 seems to be against USC’s “expansion plan” and “imposing its will on the surrounding community.” Whatever your views on that issue, those discussions are outside the scope of what a faculty union would actually deal with, though they may fit in with the SEIU’s wider agenda. Additionally, SEIU Local 721’s selection of organizations to list as endorsers seems to me an odd match for a reasoned discussion about the wisest path forward for USC and its faculty. And lastly, throughout this process I have been concerned that unionization could lead to divisiveness and confrontational attitudes; I am disappointed to see that negative tone in the union statement.

Unfortunately, SEIU Local 721 is preventing the faculty from voting now. I suspect the union did not want to hear the message that Dornsife faculty were prepared to deliver. As this process moves forward, I assure you that USC will continue to act in good faith and in compliance with the law. I will send you more information as I learn it.


Michael W. Quick