DOBBS FERRY – After two days of in-person and virtual voting, Mercy Faculty Forward/Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 200United, which represents the over 700 adjunct faculty and lecturers at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike if a fair first contract is not reached before the end of this semester.
The vote passed overwhelmingly, with 92 percent voting to authorize the union negotiating committee to call for a strike.
The vote comes after over two and a half years of contract negotiations and 30 bargaining sessions with the Mercy College administration. While many tentative agreements have been reached on issues relating to professional development funding, just cause protections, and more, the the union said the administration refuses to budge on key economic and job security issues and insists on an anti-union open shop provision.
Adjunct faculty and lecturers make up over 70 percent of Mercy College’s faculty. Despite this, a majority make only $3,000 per course. They work without job security, on temporary semester-by-semester appointments. The union’s most recent counter proposal calls for a significant increase in the base pay per course with increases over the life of the agreement and for two-year appointments with course guarantees. The administration’s most recent proposal provides for an increase of just $200 to $300 per course with no guarantees of any increases over the life of the agreement and no course guarantees for adjuncts, despite the fact that many have taught at the college for years.
Westchester Board of Legislators’ Chairwoman Catherine Borgia said the college “should move expeditiously to establish an equitable contract with the union. The adjunct faculty at Mercy College deserve a pay consistent with area labor standards and the same protections as almost every other union contract. Mercy students deserve faculty that can fully focus on education and not a daily struggle for economic survival.”
The strike authorization vote allows for the union bargaining committee to call for a strike at any time. More bargaining sessions are scheduled in an effort to avert a strike before the end of the spring semester.