UNH campuses to vote on formation of lecturers' union

By Ken Johnson
On February 7, 2014

On Wednesday, Feb. 12, and Thursday, Feb. 13, lecturers at both UNH's Durham and Manchester campuses will vote by secret ballot to decide on whether or not to form a union. 

Tenure-track faculty at UNH have had the American Association of University Professors UNH (AAUP-UNH) union, but lecturers have been unable to join. University of New Hampshire Lecturers United AAUP has been working toward creating a union for lecturers. 

"Since last August, we have worked extremely hard to win collective bargaining rights for UNH lecturers," Sarah Hirsch, a lecturer in Spanish, said. "At the end of last semester, we filed union authorization cards with over 70 percent support calling for a union election."

"The lecturers who are now organizing a union are our colleagues," a statement released by the executive committee of the AAUP-UNH said. "They teach the same sorts of courses that we teach; their interactions with students are very much like ours; many of them engage in similar sorts of research and artistry as do we."

"With more competitive salaries, better benefits and increased job security, we believe that we can not only retain the best lecturers that we currently have, but also recruit the best lecturers in the future," Hirsch said. 

"A simple majority is needed to win the election, guaranteeing UNH Lecturers United-AAUP the right to negotiate a collective bargaining contract with the administration of UNH," a press release from University of New Hampshire Lecturers United AAUP said.

UNH Lecturers United-AAUP will be another AAUP chapter and sister organization of AAUP-UNH, Deanna Wood, chapter president of the AAUP-UNH, said. "I hope that we'll do a lot of collaboration," Wood said. 

The AAUP-UNH has been helping the lecturers in an advisory role, Wood said. National AAUP has been helping with support, with one to two advisers on campus at some points helping out the UNH Lecturers United-AAUP, Wood said. 

"We have already benefited from the support of the tenure-track faculty union and we anticipate that our relationship will continue after we have won our own collective bargaining rights," Hirsch said. "While there are some major differences between lecturers and tenure-track faculty, there are also many common interests, and it would be beneficial for us to work together whenever possible."

"As lecturers, the success and wellness of UNH students is definitely one of our priorities," Hirsch said. "We believe that better working conditions for lecturers will lead to better learning conditions for our students." 

Voting in Durham will be held at Dimond Library in room 327 and voting in Manchester will be held at University Center in room 253. The voting hours at both locations are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on both days. The Public Employees Labor Relations Board in Concord will tabulate the ballots on Feb. 14. Lecturers should bring a photo ID and vote on the campus they teach at, a press release from University of New Hampshire Lecturers United AAUP said.

"Just as we faced our own need to organize into a union more than two decades ago, we recognize a like need for our colleagues," a statement released by the executive committee of the AAUP-UNH said. "We fully and heartily support our colleagues as they form themselves into a collective bargaining unit."

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