Adjuncts Vote to Authorize Strike; Staff Workers Union Reaches Agreement


The Mercy Adjunct Union voted to formally authorize a potential strike with over 92 percent of voters being in favor of the strike. 

This vote gives the union negotiating committee the ability to call for a strike if a contract can not be reached with the college in upcoming bargaining sessions. 

“This extremely positive vote for authorizing a strike speaks volumes about the support of the adjunct faculty and lecturers in seeking a fair wage for our work and improvements in our students’ learning conditions,” said Steve Ochser, English Adjunct and Union Committee Member in a statement. 

A representative from the union declined to provide the exact total of votes cast in the election.

The timing of the strike vote on April 4 and April 5 was to provide leverage for the union in a negotiation scheduled for April 6, adjunct sources stated. 

While both sides failed to reach a deal in that negotiation session, both sides agreed to meet for three consecutive days in an attempt to reach an agreement before the end of the spring semester. The meetings are scheduled for April 26, 27, and 28, while the spring term is scheduled to end on May 10.

Member of the Adjunct Bargaining Committee and a lecturer in the Seminars Program, Katherine Flaherty, stated how the strike authorization can be used as a tool to help negotiations for the union. 

“The threat of a creditable strike usually propels the administration to bargain in more good faith than they had previously,” said Flaherty. 

Just before the scheduled April 6 negotiations between the adjunct union and college, a message from Mercy College President Tim Hall to college faculty and staff announced an agreement had been reached with Local 2110 United Auto Workers. 

This union represents many of the staff workers at Mercy College and will provide labor peace for the workers through Sept. 30, 2024. 

“Our goal was to reach an agreement that honors the valuable contributions our staff make to the success of our students while ensuring the long-term stability and strength of the institution. I am pleased to report that we have been able to achieve this,” said Hall in the statement. 

Local 2110 UAW previously stated support of the adjuncts union amid its own contract negotiations on March 23. 

In another message from Hall to students, faculty, and staff later on April 6, the college acknowledged that the union held a strike authorization vote and that both sides exchanged counterproposals in the negotiations session. 

“Today, both parties met to exchange counter proposals and jointly expressed their desire to avoid a strike or any type of disruption to the spring term,” said Hall. 

Over the concerns of students, English adjunct assistant professor Catherine Johnson urged students not to worry and that the strike will not be sudden. 

“A strike date will be announced, and they will know it,” said Johnson. 

During the voting process, one of the lead negotiators for the union, Sean Collins, indicated the union had a minor issue with Campus Security over signage. 

According to union members, the Head of Campus Security objected to the slogan on some of the signs and required them to be taken down. The union said the signs had the slogan “No Profs in Poverty” on them. 

In response to this Plunkett said this was due to Mercy College’s policy on signs. 

“Mercy College’s policies ordinarily limit solicitation of employees on campus and require that signage be pre-approved and hung on designated bulletin boards,” said Plunkett. 

The union intends on reviewing this decision by Mercy College to ensure no labor laws were violated. 

“We are considering some of the options if that constitutes an unfair labor practice,” said Collins. 

Both sides continue to emphasize that neither wants a work stoppage to disrupt the spring semester. Johnson hopes this latest action by the union can prevent it. 

“I hope the Mercy administration hears this message loud and clear.”