Northeastern Violates SEIU 509 Faculty Contract, Rules Arbitrator

December 28, 2017

According to an independent arbitrator's ruling, Northeastern University failed to offer a course to a longtime, qualified faculty member represented by SEIU Local 509, thereby violating a collective bargaining agreement. Attorney Patrick Bryant represented Local 509 throughout the arbitration process.

In the past few years, Greater Boston contingent faculty have been making history. By banding together and joining Local 509's contribution to the Faculty Forward Initiative, faculty at Bentley University, Boston University, Brandeis University, Lesley University, Northeastern University and Tufts University won substantially better pay, benefits and job security.

For instance, the collective bargaining agreement negotiated by Northeastern faculty and Local 509 entitles faculty members to continue teaching courses for which they have a proven track record. The parties call this "Good Faith Consideration." Faculty receive Good Faith Consideration for multiple courses at the same time and even for up to two sections of the same course, at the same time. This was a significant improvement from the status quo before engaging in collective action. Faculty also resisted efforts by Northeastern to limit the number of courses each faculty could teach.

Northeastern finally implemented this process for the Spring 2017 semester. In one case, Northeastern refused to offered a second section of a course for which a faculty member had Good Faith Consideration. The evidence established that Northeastern could have offered a second section to this faculty member, but deliberately chose not to do so.

The Union asserted that Northeastern violated the contract language and filed a grievance. Instead of simply begging Northeastern to reconsider its action, the collective bargaining agreement now allows faculty to have an independent arbitrator resolve contract disputes. The arbitrator agreed with the Union and rejected Northeastern's defenses as unpersuasive and offered after the fact.

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