President Bowen responds to contingent faculty’s union plans

Rachel  Brustein


On October 7th, College president José Bowen sent an email to the faculty acknowledging the contingent faculty’s decision to unionize. Bowen referred to this decision as “an important issue for our campus.”  He mentioned that he worked with non-tenure track faculty at his previous institution, Southern Methodist University, “on actions that increased participation in governance and provided greater inclusion,” and wants to accomplish that at Goucher through “direct dialogue” with the faculty.

The email contained anti-union language. For example, Bowen stated in the email, “before you take the step of trusting an outside entity to control your interests at Goucher, I’d ask you to give me a chance to talk with you…and work with you directly to make teaching here a more rewarding and better experience.” In the email, Bowen also asked the faculty to educate themselves about unionization before signing the commitment cards. He explained, “if the SEIU [the union] wins the right to bargain collectively, it will demand that Goucher agree to force all non-tenure track faculty, as a condition of employment, to become a member of the union and pay dues or pay an equivalent amount as a non-member agency fee. If that demand becomes part of the agreement with the union, you will have to pay dues or fees, or you can be discharged from the college.”

A document titled “FAQs about SEIU’s Organizing Efforts on Goucher’s Campus” was attached to the e-mail. This document, distributed by the administration at a faculty meeting before the email was sent out, contained information about unionization, authorization cards, appropriate bargaining units, unionization dues, and collective bargaining.

On October 16th, Bowen sent an email to the entire Goucher community reiterating many of the points he made in the original email sent to the faculty. 

Both the email from Bowen and the supplementary document can be found on Goucher’s website.


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