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Provost Message E-Newsletter [Vanderbilt University]

June 2017

Dear Colleagues,

I’m writing to share with you the results of Tuesday’s public vote tally by representatives of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on the request by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) to represent full-time and adjunct non-tenure track faculty in four of our schools/colleges. I also write to explain, to the best of our knowledge, what the Vanderbilt community can expect next.

As you can see below, there were a significant number of challenged votes in each of the four elections. As a result, none of the results are final at this time. These challenges came from the NLRB, the SEIU and Vanderbilt.  (Read more about why a ballot may be challenged).

  • In the Blair School, there were 16 “yes” votes, 23 “no” votes, and 23 challenged ballots. There were 79 faculty eligible to vote.
  • In the Divinity School, there was 1 “yes” vote, 2 “no” votes, and 4 challenged ballots. There were 11 faculty eligible to vote.
  • In Peabody College, there were 9 “yes” votes, 20 “no” votes and 39 challenged votes. There were 94 faculty eligible to vote.
  • In the College of Arts and Science, there were 55 “yes” votes, 40 “no” votes, and 51 challenged ballots. There were 193 faculty eligible to vote.

The NLRB will make a determination over the next week on how to proceed on the challenged votes. The university and the SEIU will be asked whether they can agree on the status of any of the challenged voters. The NLRB will then determine whether to have a hearing as to the status of any challenged voters that remain. Depending on whether or not a hearing is necessary, it could be weeks or months before the outcome of the election is known.

Over the next several months, the university may also make challenges, objections and requests for review of the election results and the decisions made by the NLRB Regional Director. These procedures ensure the election is certified in a fair and representative way. They are not delay tactics, just a part of the process. These efforts also ensure that the university may obtain a legal ruling on its position that full-time, non-tenure track faculty play a central role in our shared governance structure. We will continue to be guided by the values and principles that we have outlined throughout this process.

Our goal has always been to approach this election in a way that reflects our values. At Vanderbilt, we’re committed to upholding fundamental values such as transparency, open communication, shared governance and collaboration. As a central part of those values, we urged eligible faculty to participate. There were many obstacles to that participation, such as a mail ballot and voting after the semester had ended. But despite those hurdles, the turnout appears substantial. We are very pleased by the engagement.

We’ll continue to keep you as informed as possible by updating the faculty unionization website and reaching out directly. As always, please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions.

Thank you for your thoughtful participation.


Susan R. Wente

Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

Office of the Provost  |  vanderbilt.edu/provost

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