Skip to main content

Faculty Unionization FAQ

Vanderbilt University is committed to providing accurate factual information that will enable informed decision-making by our faculty.

May 15, 2017 Update

The NLRB's rules permit the union, the university and the NLRB to challenge a voter for good cause. Some examples of good cause include that the voter has quit or been discharged subsequent to the preparation of the voter list. The NLRB agent conducting the election must challenge any voter not included on the official voter list. 

The challenged ballots are separated from the other ballots cast in the election. When the election has concluded, the unchallenged ballots are counted. If the challenged ballots are insufficient in number to change the outcome of the election, they will not be opened. If the number of challenged ballots is sufficient to be determinative, the Regional Director investigates the challenges and issues a report containing recommendations for resolving the challenges. The RD may decide that a hearing is necessary. Both the recommendations and the decision regarding the challenges may be appealed to the NLRB.

If the Regional Director ordered the challenged ballots opened and counted, a revised count will be issued and the results of the election will be certified if all other election objections have been resolved.

On June 6 at 2:00 p.m., the NLRB will count the ballots and will issue a report called a Tally of Ballots. Afterwards, both the union and the university have seven days to file objections to the election. If no objections are filed, and if the number of challenged ballots is not determinative to the outcome, the NLRB will then certify the election. If either party files objections or if the number of challenges are determinative to the outcome, the NLRB will hold further proceedings to resolve the objections and/or challenges.

Yes. You may contact the NLRB beginning on May 15 to request that your ballot be sent to an alternative address. The NLRB’s contact information is as follows:

National Labor Relations Board Region 10 Resident Office
810 Broadway, Suite 302
Nashville, TN 37203-3859

Yes. The NLRB will count the votes on June 6 at 2:00 p.m. in its public hearing room located at 810 Broadway, 3rd Floor, Nashville, TN.

While we disagree with many aspects of the RD’s decision, we have not made a final decision whether to appeal to the NLRB in Washington. D.C. The appeal is not due until 14 days after the election results are certified.

Although both SEIU and musicians’ unions serve their members in a representative capacity, musicians’ unions typically have a narrow focus on the artistic community. For example, the Nashville Musicians Association, AFM Local 257 (NMA) generally considers performers on musical instruments of any kind, vocalists, dancers, support crew or other individuals who render musical services to be eligible for regular membership. Additionally, NMA resources and services focus on the needs of working musicians. Examples include numerous networking opportunities, marketing tools, posted profiles of artists and bands, “gig” calendars, instrument insurance, and free use of a rehearsal hall.

On the other hand, SEIU has a broad focus across many industries. It began decades ago as a union for building service workers and janitors, but today also includes food service workers, nursing home workers, nurses, child care providers, security officers, and others. Even within Local 205, dozens of occupations are represented across the healthcare and public service industries. With members of so many different occupations represented by SEIU, the union’s resources are not exclusively focused on your interests as a musician and educator.

Perhaps the most critical distinction involves the power of the individual to determine the union’s involvement in his or her career. Using their own discretion, individual musicians can act to join or resign from the NMA. In contrast, if SEIU Local 205 is voted in, the union would be empowered to negotiate with the university regarding the terms and conditions of your employment – regardless of whether you personally choose to become an official SEIU member.

 April 16, 2017 Update

Yes. On April 4, the university filed a motion with the NLRB to withdraw from the election agreement on the grounds that the union negotiated the election agreement in bad faith. On April 6, the union agreed to withdraw and the NLRB revoked its approval of the agreement.

No. Under the terms of the election agreement, a mail ballot election was scheduled for April 10. When the NLRB revoked its approval of the agreement on April 6, it also cancelled the election.

On April 7, the NLRB approved the SEIU’s request to withdraw its March 29 petition seeking to represent certain faculty in Blair and Peabody. Please remember that the Blair and Peabody faculty affected by the new petition are included in the union’s proposed bargaining unit in the original petition. The original petition is currently under review by the NLRB Regional Director.
The NLRB will proceed with adjudicating the SEIU’s original petition, filed on February 16. The deadline for the university and SEIU to submit post-hearing briefs to the NLRB Regional Director was April 13. The Regional Director will review the record and the parties’ arguments and issue his decision.
We do not know. The NLRB’s rules do not set a deadline for the Regional Director to issue his decision. The Regional Director could issue his decision within days, weeks or months after submission of the post-hearing briefs on April 13, 2017.

April 5, 2017 Update

The election agreement was the product of compromise. As part of this compromise, both the university and the union agreed that Peabody and Blair would not be part of the bargaining unit. A compromise in the classic sense is to give up something you very much value so you can move forward together, which is what the university did.

The agreement was not the outcome that the university desired and it did not achieve all of the university’s goals. Vanderbilt continues to believe that full-time non-tenure track faculty are managerial employees and that the faculty in the proposed unit do not share an appropriate community of interest. But the university reached this compromise to move forward.

No.  In fact, the university was not aware of the union's intent to file another petition. It was the university's understanding that as part of the March 29 settlement, Peabody and Blair were to be excluded. However, at the very same time the university and the SEIU were finalizing the settlement, the SEIU was preparing a new petition. The university is extremely disappointed by the bad faith the union displayed in the negotiating process. The SEIU's behavior is the opposite of the values of honesty, transparency and truth-telling that guide Vanderbilt.

No. The university’s position remains that it fully supports the right of adjunct and part-time faculty to choose whether or not they wish to unionize. At the same time, the university strongly believes that union representation is not appropriate for full-time non-tenure track faculty because they are considered managerial employees under U.S. Supreme Court precedent.

During the evening of April 4, the university filed a new motion with the NLRB to withdraw from the March 29 election agreement with the SEIU. This is because the SEIU acted in bad faith and withheld information from the university during recent negotiations. The university is awaiting the NLRB’s decision.

March 24, 2017 Update

The SEIU submitted signed union cards to the NLRB when they filed the petition Feb. 16 to demonstrate a showing of interest from non-tenure track faculty. Signing the card does not count as a vote for the union or obligate you to vote for the union. Some members of the faculty have expressed concern that they signed cards thinking that this action was only to get more information. They have asked if they can get the card back. Please know that you have the right to ask the SEIU organizer to return your card. You are also free to seek more information about withdrawing authorization from the NLRB s Nashville office (615-736-5921). In any event, signing a card does not obligate a faculty member to support the union in an election. On election day, each voter has the right to cast a ballot for or against union representation.

March 9, 2017 Update

No. The law allows the SEIU to make statements or promises to members of the proposed unit that do not have to be truthful or accurate. For example, we ve heard reports that union organizers are telling faculty members that, since Tennessee is a right to work state, they can opt out of union representation. That is not an accurate statement If the union is certified, all members of the bargaining unit, whether they vote in the election or not, will be represented by the union. (See FAQ below on Right to Work for more information). Conversely, the NLRA prohibits the University from making any new commitments or promises while the petition for an election is pending. Under the NLRA, the University must maintain its current practices with regards to the petitioned for faculty during the petition process.

Under the NLRA, the University is prohibited from making unilateral changes to terms and conditions of employment for the petitioned for faculty. This means that the university must follow its standard practices and cannot make any new promises or changes that weren't already contemplated or in process prior to the filing of the union petition.

March 2, 2017 Update

Vanderbilt is not anti-union and it does not oppose adjunct and part-time NTT's decision to choose whether to be represented by the SEIU. Indeed, Laborers Local 386 represents our dining, craft and maintenance employees, and Vanderbilt has had a constructive relationship with the union since 1972.

Vanderbilt believes that including its full-time NTTs in the union petition is inappropriate because, under U.S. Supreme Court precedent, faculty that have the opportunity to participate in the shared governance of the university are considered "managerial."

We are proud of our model of shared governance, which is different and more robust than many of our peer institutions. Our full-time NTTs have the opportunity to participate and share in university governance through their schools/colleges, the Faculty Senate, and/or through their appointment to strategic committees and leadership roles.

Vanderbilt also believes that the union's proposed bargaining unit is problematic because our full-time NTTs do not share an appropriate "community of interest" with our adjunct and part time non-tenure track faculty. Unlike adjuncts and part-time faculty, our full-time NTTs receive full employee benefits, are appointed to renewable terms of 1, 3, 5 or 7 years, may only be terminated for cause, are regularly and routinely reappointed, and participate in our shared governance. In addition, the proposed bargaining unit includes faculty from four different schools/colleges that each have distinctive missions; Arts and Science, Divinity, Peabody, and Blair.

Vanderbilt believes that the union has structured their proposed bargaining unit in a manner that will disenfranchise many employees who would be directly affected. The union has excluded faculty members that hold administrative titles and those that are not currently teaching one course. Given the cyclical nature of administrate appointments, full-time NTTs who currently hold a short-term administrative assignment cannot vote, even though they may rotate out of the administrative position and would then be represented by the union. Faculty who are not currently teaching could not vote in a union election, but would be represented by the union if they teach a course in subsequent semesters.

Vanderbilt is concerned that unionization of our full-time NTTs could jeopardize our model of shared governance. We are also concerned that unionization of our full-time NTTs will create a legalistic, formal division between the faculty. We have learned from our colleagues at Duke and University of Chicago that unionization of their non-tenured faculty has fostered an "us vs. them" attitude. We want to protect the collegiality we all enjoy at Vanderbilt. We are also concerned the union will interfere with our faculty's right to privacy.

For example, the union has subpoenaed the appointment letters "for each person who has been employed by the University to teach undergraduate or graduate-level courses during the 2016-2017 academic year". This demand includes all faculty, tenured, tenure track and NTTs at all 10 schools and colleges. Vanderbilt has objected to this request.

No, you do not have that right. If the union is certified, all members of the bargaining unit, whether they vote in the election or not, will be represented by the union. This means that all faculty in the unit will be represented by the union and covered by the terms of any union contract. Faculty members in the certified bargaining unit may not "opt out" of union representation or the terms of any union contract.

As a right-to-work state, bargaining unit members in Tennessee do not have to join a union or pay union dues as a condition of employment. However, bargaining unit members who decide not to join the union will still be represented by the union and may not "opt out" of union representation.

If NTT faculty unionized, the union would serve as the faculty's exclusive collective bargaining agent. This means that department chairs and university administration would be prohibited from dealing directly with the NTT faculty regarding their pay, benefits, course assignments, leaves of absence, accommodations, and all other terms and conditions of employment.

The NLRB holds secret ballot elections, and neither the union nor Vanderbilt will know how an individual votes. Since Tennessee is a Right to Work state, bargaining unit members can decide for themselves whether they wish to join the union and become a member. The university will not ask the union to disclose the identity of their dues paying members, although there is always the possibility that the union may disclose this information.

The University is not aware of any correlation between unionization and teaching quality. Vanderbilt remains committed to the highest quality of teaching, and we are proud of our Center for Teaching.

No. Nothing is automatic during bargaining. All the law requires is that the University bargain in good faith with the union. The law does not require Vanderbilt to agree to any demands the union might make. The union cannot guarantee that the University will provide any specific level of wages or benefits during bargaining. Some employers and unions never reach an agreement during bargaining. For example, in December, 2015, the SEIU won a union election to represent NTT faculty at the University of Chicago. As of February, 2017, the SEIU and University of Chicago have not reached terms for a labor contract.

What's more, there are no guarantees in collective bargaining. All terms and conditions of employment are subject to negotiation, including all of your current wages and benefits. As a result, you could get more than you have today, the same as you have today or less than you have today. And from whatever you might receive – more, the same or less – you would have to subtract union dues or fees, should you choose to join the union, to determine the net result.

If the union is certified, the University's tuition reimbursement benefit would be subject to negotiation during bargaining. It is possible that, as a result of bargaining, this benefit could be increased, decreased, stay the same, or eliminated altogether. Neither the union nor the University can guarantee what will happen during negotiations.

No. A union doesn't have the right or power to dictate to the University the terms and conditions of bargaining unit members' employment, like wages, benefits, the schedules faculty work, the assignments they receive or various other matters involving the faculty's day-to-day work.

Faculty working in positions within the bargaining unit will be covered by any collective bargaining agreement negotiated by the University and the union. Terms and conditions of employment for the bargaining unit, including wages and benefits, are all subject to collective bargaining. This is true regardless of whether the member of the bargaining unit is a full, dues-paying union member or chooses not to compensate the union for the cost of their representation. Thus, bargaining unit members would then have no right to individually negotiate better pay or benefits on their own behalf, so long as they remain in a position within the bargaining unit. For example, a bargaining unit member will be unable to elect or otherwise shape his or her schedule, unless doing so complies with the terms of any collective bargaining agreement between the University and the union.

No. The National Labor Relations Act says that you have the right to say "no" to the union, union meetings, and union cards. In fact, just as employees have a right to unionize under the National Labor Relations Act, they have the right to refrain from unionization.

During this union election campaign, you may be approached by one or more of your co-workers about the union. You have the right to discuss the union or to not discuss the union. If you would prefer to refrain from discussing the union, you may exercise your right to not engage in these discussions and inform your co-worker that you are not interested in discussing the union or the campaign.

Regardless of one's position on this issue, the university will not tolerate intimidation or retaliation against non-tenure track faculty who invoke their right to organize. Our goal is to provide information and to ensure an appropriate bargaining unit is proposed.

The union organizers and union supporters have no right to threaten or coerce you when you say "no" or because you are not interested in unionization. In accordance with the University's policy, you have the right to a workplace that is free from threats or coercion.

Each of our schools/colleges has different constitutions and bylaws regarding their eligible Faculty Senators and eligible voters. This is one reason why the new Shared Governance Committee was created this fall to re-affirm and review school/college/university processes and issue a report with recommendations.

It has been reported that some faculty in the College of Arts and Science have not been given the opportunity to vote. Provost Wente was not aware of this situation prior to her testimony at the NLRB hearing, and Vanderbilt cannot do anything right now to directly address it due to NLRB rules. However, part of the charge of the appointed Shared Governance Committee includes an understanding of current processes at the school/college and university levels for facilitating and incorporating faculty dialogue. The committee is also tasked to consider how those processes might be reimagined and improved to further engage faculty voices in initiatives and to ensure forward-looking shared governance mechanisms are in place.

At Vanderbilt, aside from elected positions, shared governance also comes through the work of deliberative committees appointed at the school/college, Provost and Chancellor levels. Our point is that full time faculty, whether NTT or TT, play a central role in that governance. We do not seek to divide and label faculty. Rather we seek to build an inclusive approach to faculty governance. Faculty, whether full time NTT or TT, can move in and out of formal leadership positions and can play key roles in committees that shape the decisions of the university.

We have been asked by the union and others to remain neutral. We cannot do so because we strongly believe that by including full-time, non-tenure track faculty, the union's petition seeks an inappropriate bargaining unit. Moreover, the union's request is counter to our culture of dialogue and discussion on our campus. We want our faculty to have complete information.

Filing a petition for employees to unionize with the National Labor Relations Board requires an employer to comply with numerous obligations under the National Labor Relations Act, and for an employer to prepare for evidentiary hearings before the Regional Director of the NLRB.

  • This is a highly specialized area of the law.
  • Vanderbilt tried to resolve this issue with the union prior to the hearing, but could not do so.
  • As is customary in legal proceedings before the NLRB, both the university and the SEIU are using outside legal counsel to provide representation during the hearings and to advise on the respective rights and obligations of the parties.

Vanderbilt supports and has always supported open dialogue. The university's aim is to ensure that our faculty have full and complete information about the potential costs and benefits of unionization.

We continuously invest in our faculty and teachers. Our faculty wage increase pool is larger than the staff wage pool and has been for many years. The Center for Teaching provides training, mentoring and professional development opportunities for our faculty. Over the past three years we have implemented upgrades to classrooms to better support the teaching experience. We also offer a robust benefits package.

We do not know, and our position on this issue is not based on financial impact.

It would be a violation of the National Labor Relations Act for Vanderbilt to provide support for or create an alternative collective bargaining organization. Again, we are proud of our shared governance model and we look forward to the Shared Governance Committee completing its charge.

The survey was conducted from Feb. 2 to April 17, 2016, with the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE) to identify the drivers of faculty success and to implement informed changes. One of the reasons we worked with COACHE, in addition to their long-standing expertise in this field, is their ability to anonymize the data. The survey was distributed to all tenured, tenure-track and non-tenure track faculty who are full-time and report to the provost. The survey had a 56 percent response rate, which was one of the highest amongst all other universities in the COACHE survey cohort. The survey excluded senior administrators with faculty appointments and faculty in their first year at Vanderbilt.

The high-level findings show that facilities and work resources, interdisciplinary work, personal and family policies, departmental quality, and health and retirement benefits are areas of strength at Vanderbilt. Clarity about tenure expectations, mentoring, and governance were identified as areas of concern. A faculty working group is analyzing the results and will release a final report this spring. I encourage you to engage with that working group if you would like to learn more.


A union is an organization that serves as a representative for a group of employees for purposes of negotiating with an employer to establish terms and conditions of employment, such as appointment terms, shared governance, salary, and benefits. A union typically charges its members for providing this service in the form of dues.

We don’t know. SEIU dues can vary. According to SEIU websites, dues for adjunct faculty at Washington University in St. Louis are 1.7% of gross salary and dues for faculty at University of Chicago are 2% of gross salary. The SEIU can also charge initiation fees that range as high as $300.

The National Labor Relations Board is an independent federal agency charged to administer the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The NLRB issues rules and guidance under the NLRA, it conducts union elections, it prosecutes violations of the NLRA (unfair labor practices), and it issues case decisions interpreting the NLRA. The Board is made up of five members, who are political appointees, typically with three members from the party in power and two from the minority party.

Most union organizing drives involve efforts by a single union (as opposed to competing unions) to solicit voters to sign authorization cards. The initial contact between the union and potential voters could be initiated by a union, or it could be initiated by a potential voter who approached the union first. Thereafter, paid union organizers attempt to collect “authorization cards.” If a union can collect enough cards to constitute a valid “showing of interest” (a showing that 30 percent or more of the employees the union seeks to represent want union representation), the union can file a “representation petition.” The NLRB will then hold a secret-ballot election.

The law provides that faculty in “an appropriate bargaining unit” may unionize provided they are not supervisory or managerial according to criteria outlined by the NLRB and the Supreme Court’s Yeshiva decision. We believe that adjunct faculty in an appropriate bargaining unit have the right to unionize. We believe that full time regular faculty (tenure track and non-tenure track) at Vanderbilt are not eligible to unionize under the Yeshiva decision because of their critical role in University governance.

Authorization cards are signed, written, or electronic declarations submitted by members of a potential bargaining unit stating that they want a particular union to be their exclusive representative for the purposes of negotiating the terms and conditions of their employment. Typically, unions collect authorization cards as part of an organizing drive – that is, an attempt to show there is an interest in unionizing and a desire to have the union serve as the exclusive bargaining agent. A union can submit the cards to support a petition for a representation election to the NLRB.

No, you do not have to vote for the union even if you signed an authorization card. Your vote is your voice and you may change your mind.

After obtaining an appropriate showing of interest (at least 30% of the group of faculty the union seeks to represent have signed union authorization cards), a union files a petition for an election with the Regional NLRB Office. The petition is sent to the University with a notice of a hearing to be held by the Regional Director (RD) of the NLRB. The University is given the opportunity to provide its position on whether the proposed bargaining unit or any bargaining unit is appropriate. If the RD determines that the proposed unit is appropriate, the RD directs a secret ballot election for a specified date and time. During this process, the union and the University may campaign for or against unionization. You may also voice your opinions for or against unionization.

Yes. The University must provide the union with the home addresses, home email addresses and home telephone/cell phone numbers of all eligible voters in the proposed unit. This requirement to turn over your personal information is mandated by federal law if the union gets enough support to file a petition.

Faculty opposed to a union may express their opinion to the Vanderbilt community, administration, and faculty and may organize in opposition to any such efforts. We encourage you to express your opinions.

As a right-to-work state, bargaining unit members in Tennessee do not have to join a union or pay union dues as a condition of employment. However, typically, only dues-paying members of a union may vote to ratify or reject a union contract or participate in a vote to strike. Thus, only dues-paying union members set the bargaining terms and agree to terms and conditions of employment that apply to all members of the bargaining unit, even those faculty that do not support a union.


This is very difficult to answer. The answer depends on the petition, the legal issues raised and how they are resolved.

An election to certify a union as the bargaining representative is decided by a majority of the votes actually cast by eligible voters. A tie goes to the University. A “Yes” vote means the voter wishes to be represented by the union; a “No” vote means the voter does not want to be represented by the union. Voters must actually vote in order for their voices to be heard. If there were an election at Vanderbilt and you didn’t vote, you would be letting other people control your future. For example, if there are 100 faculty in a petitioned-for bargaining unit, but only 50 choose to vote, a union would only need 26 “Yes” votes to be certified. Once a union is formed, it negotiates the terms and conditions of employment for the members of the bargaining unit, whether they support the union or not. This example is a real possibility, as the data shows that voter turnout for faculty union elections is usually lower than those in private industry.

The description of the bargaining unit in the SEIU’s representation petition filed at the NLRB is as follows: Including: All full-time and part-time graduate and undergraduate non-tenure-track faculty (including but not limited to the follow titles: Lecturers, Senior Lecturers, Principal Senior Lecturers, Instructors, non-tenure-track Assistant Professors, non-tenure-track Associate Professors, non-tenure-track Professors, Adjunct Faculty, Adjunct Instructors, Adjunct Lecturers, Adjunct Assistant Professors, Adjunct Associate Professors, Adjunct Professors, Adjunct Artist Teachers, Adjunct Senior Artist Teachers, Senior Artist Teachers, Assistant Professors of the Practice, Associate Professors of the Practice, Professors of the Practice, Mellon Assistant Professors, Visiting Faculty, Visiting Assistant Professors, Visiting Distinguished Professors, Visiting Professors, Faculty-In-Residence, Artists-In-Residence, Composers-In-Residence, Writers-In-Residence, Postdoctoral Fellows, Postdoctoral Lecturers, Research Assistant Professors, Research Associate Professors, Research Professors) employed by Vanderbilt University and currently teaching at least one course in the College of Arts and Science, Blair School of Music, Peabody College of Education and Human Development, the Divinity School, or the Graduate School. Excluding: All tenured faculty, tenure-track faculty, emeritus faculty, research faculty who are not teaching courses, adjoint faculty, clinical faculty, the School of Medicine faculty, the School of Nursing faculty, the Law School faculty, the Owen Graduate School of Management faculty, the School of Engineering faculty, all administrators (including deans, directors, provosts, and chairs who may have teaching assignments); faculty who are paid by entities other than Vanderbilt University (including governments, and other organizations), athletic coaches, all other employees employed by the University, including those who teach a class or course and are separately compensated for such teaching, managers, confidential employees, office clerical employees, professional employees, guards, and supervisors as defined in the Act.

We don’t know. The National Labor Relations Board will decide who is eligible to vote in a union election.

Yes. Voting is by secret ballot and the election is conducted by employees of the NLRB. Union representatives and University officials may not be present at the voting locations during the actual vote.

Yes. Faculty may speak freely to each other about the issues surrounding unionization. Faculty may also speak with University administrators regarding unionization. University administrators respect your personal opinions and privacy, and will not interrogate faculty about their union views.

No. It violates the National Labor Relations Act, University policy and our values to retaliate against a person because of their union views.

The union would serve as your exclusive representative in all dealings with the University regarding your terms and conditions of employment, including wages, benefits, and all other issues surrounding your employment. Your relationship with the University would be changed, since you may no longer be able to engage directly with your dean, chair, or other leaders on the support you need to advance your teaching and research.

Yes. The timing depends on the actual circumstances, but typically it is one year before another vote can happen.

Yes, however, the NLRB will not process a union decertification petition for at least one year after the vote. If the union and University agree on a union contract with a term of 3 years or longer, the NLRB will not process a union decertification petition for the first three years of the union contract. While decertification is possible, please understand it is difficult to decertify a union if it is voted into the University.


No. The bargaining demands made by a union during contract negotiations are set by the union bargaining committee. The bargaining committee may be elected or appointed by the union and is made up of dues-paying members. Contract negotiation proposals are determined by the union after it is selected by the eligible voters to represent the bargaining unit. Once in bargaining, all terms and conditions of employment – wages, benefits, teaching responsibilities, etc. – are subject to negotiations. As a result of the bargaining process, these may stay the same, improve, or actually get worse.

Yes, whether or not a faculty is a member of the union, all faculty in the bargaining unit are represented by the union and would be covered by the terms and conditions of the union contract. However, it is likely only those faculty who join the union and pay union dues could vote on union business, including contract ratification and strike votes.

No. Since Tennessee is a right-to-work state, a person covered by a union contract need not join and pay dues to the union to be a member of the bargaining unit. However, that person is still bound by all terms and conditions of the union contract. Thus, important things like your pay, health insurance, professional development funds, and teaching responsibilities would all be negotiated by the union.

No. A union contract is a binding contract and, unless the contract states otherwise, exceptions are not allowed.

All matters related to wages, hours and working conditions are mandatory subjects of bargaining. Examples include salary, work hours, shared governance, health insurance, retirement plans, appointment duration, and disciplinary procedures.

There is a common misperception that the current terms and conditions serve as the floor for bargaining and can only improve with collective bargaining. This is not true. There is no guarantee that a union would negotiate improvements in pay, governance, benefits or other working conditions. There is no guarantee that the collective bargaining process would yield results more favorable than what might happen without collective bargaining. The University has always been committed to doing all it can to attract and retain the best and brightest faculty, and it will maintain that commitment regardless of the election results.

Yes, while it is possible that collective bargaining could result in represented faculty getting more than they had when negotiations began, it is also possible that terms and conditions could remain unchanged or that faculty could get less than they had when negotiations began.

No. Even if a union represented faculty at several other schools, terms negotiated elsewhere would not apply here, and the University would not agree to the union's proposals simply because some other institution has done so, nor would it be required to do so.

We don’t know. If the union is legally certified, all terms and conditions of employment contained in the Faculty Manual would be subject to collective bargaining.

If a union and the University cannot agree after engaging in good faith bargaining, normally the employer makes its final proposal, often called a “last, best, and final offer.” In response, the union normally will ask its members to vote on the proposal. If the members of the bargaining unit vote to accept (or “ratify”) the offer, then the parties have a collective bargaining agreement. If the members of the bargaining unit reject the offer, then there is no agreement. If there is no agreement, the parties may agree to restart negotiations, or the union may decide to strike. Also, once a genuine impasse is reached, the University may implement unilaterally its last, best, and final offer.

A labor strike is when a union and its members withhold labor from the employer to force the university to accede to union bargaining demands. Strikes are often accompanied by picket lines and disruption. Strikers immediately lose their pay and compensation (stipends, etc.), health insurance benefits. In Tennessee, strikers are not eligible to receive unemployment benefits. The process to call a strike is governed by the union constitution and bylaws. Often, a strike vote must be supported by a super majority. Only dues paying union members may vote to strike. During a strike, an employer may replace some or all strikers, sometimes permanently. During a strike, any faculty in the bargaining unit (dues paying or otherwise) may cross the picket line and continue their teaching, research, and service.

We are not sure how a union would affect the current structure of the University, departmental and school committees.

Often, in labor contracts employers expressly reserve their right to run their operations, and this reservation of rights is embodied in a “management rights” clause.

Vanderbilt strives to create an open and collegial atmosphere, where all members of the campus community feel they have a voice and real input into their professional life at Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt is constantly offering faculty a chance to provide input, helping to direct the future of the University. As a result, the faculty, including non-tenure track, play an integral role in the governance and setting the strategic direction of the University. The Faculty Senate is a central part of Vanderbilt governing structure and sets policy in significant ways. In addition, through the COACHE survey process, the faculty are given the opportunity to confidentially voice their opinions on all matters related to faculty satisfaction, including benefits, promotion processes, and governance for example. The COACHE data analysis and input forums are fully faculty driven with non-tenure track faculty in the Faculty Working Group committee. The commitment to routine COACHE surveys and evaluations provides an important, open and collaborative way for all faculty to direct the future of the University.