Recently Asked Questions | Webster University

Recently Asked Questions

Q: I plan to vote, no, but how will I know when the voting is taking place?  Will I get an email?  Or will the notice come through campus mail? An earlier email may have explained this and I missed it…..

A:  On April 6, it was agreed that there will be two voting units: “Adjuncts” and “Instructors.”

To vote, “Adjuncts” must have taught at least one credit-bearing course during the Fall 2014 semester (or term) or Spring 2015 semester (or term), while those with the title “Instructor” must be under contract to teach during the Spring 2015 semester (or term). In addition, eligible faculty members must have taught at one of the following St. Louis area campuses: Gateway (Downtown), Winghaven, Westport, or Webster Groves.

In accordance with National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) procedures, the NLRB will mail ballots to the homes of eligible voters by April 24th, which must be received by the NLRB by May 8. The count will be held under NLRB supervision on May 11.

Q:  When do we vote?

A: In accordance with NLRB procedures, the NLRB will mail ballots to the homes of eligible voters on April 24th, which must be received by May 8. The count will be held under NLRB supervision on May 11.

Q: I am a full-time staff member but taught one class per academic year from 2009 to 2012 as part of one of the learning communities. I do not anticipate teaching again but have been receiving information from Webster regarding the unionization vote. I have not been contacted by SEIU. I was curious as to how voting eligibility will be determined as I’d prefer not to be involved.

A: All full time staff and administrators are excluded from the voting unit. To be eligible to vote, the Adjunct Faculty must have taught at one of the four St. Louis area campuses during the Fall 2014 Semester (or term) or Spring 2015 Semester (or term). Instructors must be teaching during the Spring 2015 Semester (or term).

Q:  Is the voting happening now? I thought that was still to be announced.

A: The ballots have not yet been mailed but will be mailed on April 24th.

Q: How and where will adjuncts or instructors vote?

A: In accordance with the election agreement, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) will mail ballots to the homes of all eligible faculty on April 24.  Faculty will receive a ballot that will look like this:

When you get your ballot, simply mark an X in the box of your choice (DO NOT SIGN OR OTHERWISE MARK THE BALLOT); place it in the envelope provided; sign the envelope; and then place that envelope in the return envelope so that it can be received by the NLRB by May 8.

NLRB Ballot - Sample

Q: What can I do as an adjunct faculty member to urge my fellow adjuncts to vote no?  Am I able to send blanket e-mails and correspondence to other adjuncts, make personal calls, or mount a campaign against having a union?   As a professional person, paying a union to represent me, set work rules, negotiate, and insert themselves into academia makes no sense.    

I believe the vast majority of adjuncts feel similarly, but may find themselves either too busy to vote or just not understand the importance of the union vote.  What exactly can I do to voice my displeasure in the loudest manner possible?  

Interestingly, this evening, speaking with 5 random adjuncts – the feeling was unanimously anti-union.

A: All eligible voters have the right to voice their opinion on this topic.  As an adjunct or a lecturer, you have just as much right to email, call, write or otherwise engage your colleagues and let them know why you do NOT want to be represented by the Service Employees International Union, as much as those who want the union. Faculty members are also free to write letters to the editor to the Webster Journal, and meet with and discuss the matter with other faculty on or off campus during non-work time.

Q:  I just had a most unpleasant experience, a visit from a union rep.  Her name is [NAME AND CONTACT INFO FOR THE UNION REP DELETED].  She lied to our doorman and told him I was expecting her, so he let her come up. When my husband opened the door, she stepped right in. I had a hard time getting rid of her!  I am furious that you are sending people out like this.  I know what the union did at Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville, and it was not good for anyone!

DO NOT SEND ANYONE TO MY HOME AGAIN!  This is a total invasion of privacy!

This is not the way to influence anyone.  I am not interested in being anyone's service employee. I am totally disgusted by this. Do not send me any more information!  If anyone comes back to my home, I will call the police.  I hope that this is clear.

A: Please know that Webster University did not provide the Union with any personal contact information for our adjunct colleagues. They have obtained it from other publicly-available sources and are contacting you as a result.  Unfortunately, we cannot make them stop. However, you have a right to request that they not contact you again by phone or come to your home. If a representative approaches you on campus and you feel uncomfortable, you may contact Public Safety at 314-246-7430.

However, now that an election agreement has been reached, Webster University is legally required to provide the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) with the names and addresses of all eligible voters prior to the vote.  The NLRB will in turn provide your information to the Union.

Q:  Hi, I do not want to unionize and want nothing to do with this.  I want things to remain as they are.  Where do I get the necessary information to maintain the status quo?

A: Keep checking this site, Webster.edu.com//wuafi. Here we will be posting the latest information and developments for your review and consideration. Most importantly, make sure you vote – and urge your colleagues to do the same. A simple majority of those casting ballots will dictate the outcome for everyone – even those choosing not to cast a ballot. Please Vote!

Q: Dear Webster Administration:  In February, over 500 students delivered a petition requesting that you remain neutral and respect the rights of our adjunct faculty to organize a union. I learned that you have ignored that request, and have reiterated your opposition to adjunct organizing.

As a student at Webster, I am in full support of the adjuncts' decisions. The bulk of my classes are taught by adjuncts who work extremely hard to ensure a quality and empowering education to their students. Again, I ask that you reconsider your stance – we students know this is best for our university, our professors, and us.

A: Thank you for your note and for expressing the sentiment of those signing the petition. Other students have expressed similar views.

However, as leaders of this institution we have an obligation to take a look at this issue comprehensively and evaluate the impact unionization would have on Webster University. After evaluating the issue and hearing from stakeholders we firmly believe that unionization is not in the best interest of our university, our faculty, or are students.   

As we have stated previously, we value our Adjunct Faculty and our Instructors and their service to our students.  We don't want to lose our ability to work directly with them on issues that are important to them.  In addition, we don't want to risk losing the many valuable faculty we currently have who have told us they will not teach if they have to be represented by a union or risk having their classes disrupted by strikes.

Withholding important information about the choice these faculty members are being asked to make would be unfair to them.  It would also be unfortunate and unfair for anyone to vote under the misunderstanding that they can simply opt out in the future or choose not to be covered by the union contract.  As leaders who are informed about this topic, we have a responsibility to our faculty to share information so whatever decision they make is fully informed.

Q:.  My name is NAME WITHELD and I am an adjunct in the CARE department in the School of Education.

I have many questions about SEIU and would like my voice to be heard as an adjunct faculty member.  I have not signed anything shared by SEUI even when they stopped by my home on a Sunday afternoon when they were not invited. 

Any information that can be shared with me would be greatly appreciated.

A: Thank you for your note and your support. Please check this site frequently, as we will be updating it regularly with information as it becomes available. Please also remember to vote – and encourage your colleagues to do the same. A simple majority of those casting ballots will dictate the outcome for everyone – even those who choose not to cast a ballot.

Q: This morning I received a well-written letter, which provided important information for all faculty members.  To my knowledge, this is the first communication from Webster that I have received concerning this very important matter.

Since I have taught this subject and have negotiated with unions in my past, I am very aware of the rights of the faculty members.  I am honestly concerned that this information is being sent too late.  I have already been contacted twice at my home by organizers.  The first visit was on Feb 24th, one month ago, which I reported to the University.

While I would never join a union, I am not familiar with the views or the familiarity of other Faculty members in this regard.  I am very concerned that their lack of knowledge may cause them to sign a Card without full knowledge of what that means for them or the University.

I wish you well in your efforts and urge you to keep the Adjuncts informed concerning their rights.  I am happy to assist if you think I might be of help in some way.

Good luck to all of us.

A: We are pleased you found our communications helpful. That said, please bookmark and watch this site (Webster.edu//wuafi) for information. We will be updating it regularly as the process unfolds in the coming weeks. Also, feel free to share the website – and your opinions – with your colleagues. When the vote occurs, we want everyone to make an educated decision – and vote!

Q: Hello, I just wanted to know why did I receive someone today at my home to talk about whether to join the union or not? I did not remember any communication about this at all. If there has been some, I apologize, and would like to get that sent over to me again, please. Communications through email, etc, is ok, but coming to my home asking questions about this matter at dinnertime with my family.... I do not think that's the right approach at all.

I also understand this was not initiated by the School, and really appreciate that. I just would like to get this note to the appropriate parties because I felt very uncomfortable having someone on my door at 7 pm inquiring me about this matter.

That is NOT how we should be approached by those who defend the cause. They need to be respectful and fight with strong arguments. Thank you!

A: Thank you for recognizing that Webster University did not initiate the visit by the union representative to your home. We are sorry that you had to experience this. You are not alone, as a number of our adjunct faculty members have had similar experiences and expressed similar concerns.

Please know that you do not have to talk to a union organizer if they show up at your home, at your campus classroom or call you on the phone. The rights not to talk to them are federally-protected. On campus, if you feel threated or believe University protocols are being violated, you can call Public Safety at the Webster Groves campus at 314-246-7430, or contact building security if you are at Westport, Winghaven, or the Gateway (Downtown) campus.

Q: I have been an adjunct faculty member at Webster for 25 years.  I have been approached by SEIU representatives but have not made a commitment one way or another.  

My question for the Webster administration: what is the university willing to do to address the needs of adjunct faculty if we choose not to organize under this union?  I am dismayed by the scare tactics on the part of the administration to discourage participation in the effort to unionize.  Rather than telling us all the reasons that unionization is "bad", I'd love to hear what the university is willing to do as an alternative to the union's collective bargaining approach.  The needs and grievances of adjuncts are real and the union seems to be more responsive to those needs than the university administration has been.  Please give us a realistic and equitable alternative to the union.

The adjuncts are not the only individuals who will benefit from a new approach.  The students are those who will benefit the most.

A: Unfortunately, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) prohibits us from discussing what we would do for our faculty if they decline union representation. As much as we would like to answer your very good and pointed question, we are prohibited from doing so by law.  It is very frustrating for the University to be in this position, but we cannot address this or other questions such as:

What will the University change or consider changing if the faculty vote to continue working with the University leadership without a union?

Is the University willing to discuss specific grievances with the adjuncts if the union is rejected? 

These are all valid questions and ones we would love the opportunity to address, but simply cannot because of the NLRB rules.

The NLRB does permit, however, the unions to make promises about what it will seek to do if elected. The NLRB believes employees are able to recognize that union campaign messages are election propaganda and thus misrepresentations by the union are not objectionable.  

We don’t like these rules, but respect the law and will not violate them.  Finally, in the coming weeks, please watch Webster.edu/wuafi for updates and more additions to these FAQs.

Q: Will I have to pay union dues even if I don't teach every semester?  

A: Chicago-based Service Employees International Union, Local 1 has filed the petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and would represent Adjuncts and Instructors if the vote turns out in their favor. However, we don’t know exactly what the dues will be because this union local has not successfully negotiated an agreement for adjunct faculty at an institution of higher education. Therefore we simply don’t know how they will treat faculty when they aren’t teaching.