The Suffolk Affiliated Faculty collective bargaining chapter (SAF-AAUP) laid claim to an important victory when it submitted a letter to the Suffolk University administration noting that the chapter had met the requirements needed to activate the fair-share provision of its new contract. The provision mandated that the union achieve 55 percent membership by December 1 in order for fair share to take effect. Following a fall membership drive and with one day remaining before the deadline, SAF-AAUP officers filed a member roster showing just under 58 percent membership in the approximately 360-member unit of part-time faculty.
With fair share, sometimes called “agency fee” or “closed shop,” everyone who is covered by the contract has the choice of either joining the union as a dues-paying member or paying a fee to cover the costs incurred by the union as it represents everyone. Fair share is based on the premise that since everyone benefits from the contract—through legally binding pay raises, access to a grievance process and outside arbitration, and other rights— everyone should contribute to the cost of administering the contract. The majority membership status and fair share provision will provide the SAF-AAUP chapter with the resources it needs to effectively represent Suffolk part-time faculty and enforce their contract.
Suffolk part-time faculty voted to unionize in 2006 and signed their first contract this past spring. The contract includes significant pay increases, access to a retirement plan, improved access to benefits, and stronger workload and due process protections. The university’s administration has thirty-one days to seek certification of the membership through the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service before instating the provision.