Mercy Adjunct Union Announce April Strike Vote

The Mercy Adjunct Union announced it will conduct a strike vote over a two-day period in April to determine whether it recommends adjuncts to conduct a work stoppage.

The vote will be held on April 11 and April 12.

This announcement came at a press conference outside Verazzano Hall on the Dobbs Ferry campus on March 15. It marks the latest in an ongoing labor dispute between Mercy College administration and the Adjunct Union that began over two years ago. 

“We are sending a clear message to the administration that we will take action and adjunct professors need job security, a pay raise, and respect for our union,” said Katherine Flaherty, member of the Adjunct Bargaining Committee and a lecturer in the seminars program.

The union also stated they will release the strike petition, which already has over 200 adjunct signatures.  The adjuncts, who state their numbers are over 700, would need a simple majority vote to ratify a strike. However, according to Union Officials, it is the practice of the union to not call for a strike unless it’s an overwhelming majority. 

In a letter sent by Mercy College President Tim Hall to Mercy College adjunct faculty and lecturers, he expressed concern over a potential strike.

“In light of these developments, we believe that any further talk of a potential strike would be irresponsible and contrary to the best interests of our students and the entire college community, including adjunct faculty members,” wrote Hall.

The announcement of a strike vote follows two separate bargaining sessions between the College and the Adjunct Union. These meetings saw movement on the issues of arbitration and salary offers, but no movement on the remaining proposals according to the Union.

Hall stated in his letter that he believes the proposal by the College at these sessions has been productive and will lead to future success. 

“We strongly believe this new proposal is more than fair and should form the basis for finally reaching an overall contract,” said Hall.

Hall stated “The current proposal represented an increase to the base rate ranging from 10 percent to 20 percent. Hall also said the college agreed to the proposal that allows for arbitration in instances where disputes between the parties cannot be resolved through our internal processes or mediation.”

In his letter, Hall stated the college has concerns that arbitration is “designed to mimic a litigation process that is adversarial and that could become a serious drain on the college’s resources if used on a frequent basis.” He added that he viewed it has a major concession by the college to the union “in order to achieve a contract and in order to build a solid working relationship with the SEIU.”

An official from the Adjunct Union stated that in that proposal, the union would be responsible for all fees to the arbiter.

Prior to the strike vote, the College and Union will meet on Mar. 22, and Apr. 6 for negotiation sessions, which the union said in a press release they hope will lead to a fair agreement for all sides.

Also attending the press conference in support of the Adjunct Union was a representative from the Mercy College Clerical Union Lisa Jessup. She commented on the Clerical Union’s recent contract disputes and pledged their support to the adjuncts. 

“If you stand together, as we will with you in your fight, we can all make gains together,” said Jessup. 

Mercy College Director of Public Relations and Community Relations, Laura Plunkett, noted how it is not uncommon for unions to support one another in contract disputes.

“It is common for unions to show solidarity with one another. We have a good relationship with the UAW and we are trying to build the same relationship with the SEIU,” said Plunkett. 

A state committee member of the Westchester Working Families Party, Peter Bernstein, also spoke in support of the adjuncts’ strike vote. He noted his surprise when learning of the salaries of Mercy College administrators. 

“I was also shocked as a community member that the compensation of the president of this university makes more than the President of the United States,” said Bernstein.  

Hall hopes that despite the escalation by the Union a deal can be reached before any work stoppage begins.

“We urge everyone concerned to express your support for a negotiated resolution to all remaining issues, which we hope can be accomplished in the near future.”