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Remembering Seattle University Professor David Heller

Today we share with you a recent poignant article written in Seattle Magazine about the life and times of the late Seattle University professor, David Heller. Click here to read it.

Professor Heller’s story was also covered by Danny Westneat in the Sunday Seattle Times.

Professor Heller passed away suddenly nearly a year ago, leaving many students, faculty, and family members devastated and in shock. He was a passionate teacher who lived for the pursuit of knowledge and was adamant about defending the institution of higher education.

But as the author of the article writes, “…Heller, like all of us adjuncts, worked on a contractual basis from semester to semester. What I didn’t know was that at 61 years old, he lived on $18,000 a year, well below the poverty level, in an increasingly expensive city. Or that he had no plan for what to do if he was not reappointed much less for retirement. His is not a singular case.”

Reading the article, we are reminded that not even two years ago, 83 year old Margaret Mary Vojtko, French Instructor at Duquesne University, died suddenly after facing years of being nearly homeless with inadequate pay and no benefits. As we continue to remember Heller and Vojtko for the passionate educators they were, we must also remember why they struggled to stay afloat.

Our fight is not over and we must continue to demand more of our institutions – for ourselves, our students and for faculty like David Heller and Margaret Mary Vojtko.

NLRB Orders Votes to be Counted – Once Again!

Just a few short weeks ago, we stood together in front of the Regional National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to testify, one more time, in defense of our right to unionize and in response to the administration’s fourth appeal against our union. Yesterday, one more time, we prevailed. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued a Second Supplemental Decision & Order, once again directing that our ballots be counted.

The SU administration has until August 31, 2015 to file an appeal, which would essentially allow them to drag this process out even further. Alternatively, at any point, the administration could choose to respect the repeated rulings made in our favor by both the Regional and National Labor Relations Board.

We call upon Seattle University and its administration, yet again, to count our votes! Perhaps with Pope Francis’ visit to the United States in September, the SU administration will remember their Jesuit values and do the right thing!

Our colleagues at Antioch University, who began their campaign to unionize several months after we did, are currently bargaining their first union contract. Our colleagues at the University of Washington are in the process of forming their own faculty union . Although the SU administration continues to stonewall our efforts to achieve collective bargaining, we stand strong with our colleagues across Washington State, defending the profession and institutions we love.

We are currently working with faculty from other universities to form a Higher Education Faculty Chapter with SEIU Local 925 to strengthen the work we’ve been doing for the past two years. To learn more about this Faculty Chapter and continue building the faculty movement, please contact SEIU Local 925 by phone at (206) 322-3010 or visit our website http://www.seiu925.org .

For detailed information on the new ruling, please review the attached document, the NLRB Regional Board’s “ 2 nd Supplemental Decision and Order .”

We Will Always Stand Strong Together

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

A few weeks ago, I spent two days listening to and testifying in yet another National Labor Relations Board hearing about whether Seattle University non-tenure track faculty perform a religious function at the university. It’s now been over a year since we held our vote without our ballots being counted. More time wasted. More money spent. More waiting.

After 11 years of persevering through legal battles, Point Park University non-tenured faculty members have won their fight to form a union!

Read more here: http://www.post-gazette.com/news/education/2015/07/20/Point-Park-University-drops-legal-challenge-over-faculty-unionization-effort/stories/201507200109

The administration at Point Park University, like the administration at Seattle University, attempted to prevent collective bargaining through multiple appeals and legal stall tactics. A few weeks ago, however, the Point Park administration announced they would be dropping all appeals, stating they no longer wanted to continue to spend resources on a costly legal battle.

The Seattle University administration need to recognize that our faculty organizing efforts cannot be “waited out.” The faculty at Point Park have proven that faculty can and will stand strong, regardless of the amount of outlandish appeals thrown their way. The same is true at SU. It’s time the SU administration stop appealing and begin working with our faculty union.

In Solidarity,

Dominic CodyKramers
Instructor – Theatre, Seattle University

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