Community college employees, faculty may unionize


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A move by the state Legislature this week opens the door for AACC employees and faculty to form unions and participate in collective bargaining.

Dan Elson, Reporter

The Maryland Legislature on Monday voted to override Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of a bill that grants community college employees the right to form unions.

The law will allow AACC employees and faculty members to form unions to negotiate with the administration for pay and policies that affect their employment, a process known as collective bargaining.

Courtney Buiniskis, who represents part-time–or adjunct–faculty on The Faculty Organization, said the veto is “a win for adjuncts.”

Adjunct professor Richard Otten, who teaches American Studies, agreed.

“We can have a seat at the table,” said Otten, who described himself as “relieved” by the veto. “It doesn’t guarantee us anything but enables us to have a meaningful voice.” 

AACC President Dawn Lindsay has said in the past that she does not support unions for AACC faculty and employees.

When the Legislature chose not to vote on a similar bill in 2018, Lindsay told Campus Current: “We don’t feel we need unionization. We actually feel that unionization would jeopardize and harm the system of shared governance that we have at the college.” 

Dan Baum, director of AACC’s Office of Strategic Communications, said most of the state’s community colleges expected the veto.

“That said, we respect the rights and opinions of all of our employees to join or not join a union through a secret ballot election free from intimidation from anyone,” he said in an email.

The Legislature approved the bill in the spring after declining to pass it in six other years. In a letter to the  state Legislature, Hogan said he vetoed the measure because it “seek[s] to address problems that do not exist and change[s] labor practices that have worked for decades.”

He said collective bargaining comes with expenses that could “put a severe strain on counties and the budgets of community colleges” and lead to tuition increases.

Otten predicted that AACC’s adjunct instructors will form a union, but noted, “ It won’t be easy.” 

In most cases, employees who want to unionize will work with a union representative to collect signatures from like-minded co-workers, which could lead to a vote.

“I think that all voices deserve to be heard,” said Buiniskis, who teaches communications and continuing education courses.