Whether or not Vanderbilt’s lecturers and adjunct faculty will form a union is still very much in flux. And the results won’t be known for weeks or even months.
That’s because significant numbers of the ballots are being challenged.
A spokeswoman from the National Labor Relations Board, the agency that administered the election, says a vote can be challenged when a voter’s eligibility is called into question by either the board, the employer, or the union. She added that in this case, all three parties have challenged votes.
Now the NLRB must work resolve the matter informally. If that can’t be done, then a hearing will be scheduled to determine which ballots are valid.
The university’s non-tenure track faculty — both full and part-time — are seeking to establish a local chapter of the SEIU, the Service Employees International Union, one of the country’s largest labor unions. It would also be the first faculty to organize at a private university in Tennessee.
The office of the Provost at Vanderbilt released a statement saying while the school is "not pro-union or anti-union, we do feel a responsibility to maintain the aspects of our community that make us special like our shared governance model and our collaborative culture. We will work through the next steps in the process with the NLRB and remain committed to being as transparent as possible and putting our faculty first.”
A union representative for the non-tenured track faculty who voted did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
As it stands, faculty in three of the four schools in Vanderbilt that cast ballots, voted against unionizing. However, with so many challenged votes, no real determination can be made. (Check out the vote tally below. Note that the "challenged" ballots are not included in the count of "yes" or "no" votes.)
- In the Blair School, there were 16 “yes” votes, 23 “no” votes, and 23 challenged ballots.
- In the Divinity School, there was 1 “yes” vote, 2 “no” votes, and 4 challenged ballots.
- In Peabody College, there were 9 “yes” votes, 20 “no” votes and 39 challenged votes.
- In the College of Arts and Science, there were 55 “yes” votes, 40 “no” votes, and 51 challenged ballots.
*Clarification: this post has been updated to make clear that the unionization vote includes more than just adjunct faculty.