Get the Facts on our USD NTT Faculty Union Election and Campaign

UPDATED: May 20, 2024.

Election FAQ for our vote-by-mail union election:

Q: Is there a new election? 

Yes, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ordered a new mail-ballot union election for non-tenure track (NTT) faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) because of an issue with ballot delivery in the first election. That issue has been resolved, and ballots will be mailed by the NLRB to CAS NTT faculty on Monday, May 20, 2024.

Once ballots arrive, we urge all faculty to return their YES votes by mail immediately (more instructions below). All votes must be received before they are counted on June 18 at 2:30 PM.

Q: I voted in the first election. Do I need to vote again?

Yes, all CAS NTT faculty will need to submit ballots by mail in the new election whether they voted in the first election or not. If you received a ballot in the mail before May 20, please discard it and wait for a new ballot to submit.

Q: I already signed a union authorization card. Do I still need to vote?

A: Yes, you still need to vote. Signing an authorization card is part of the process to trigger the election. Now, we are asking you to vote YES.

Q: Am I eligible to vote?

A: Eligible voters in this election are the following employees in College of Arts and Science (CAS) at the University of San Diego (USD) who taught at least one credit-earning class, section, lesson, or lab in the 2023 spring semester, the 2023 fall semester, or the 2024 spring semester: All full-time and part-time non-tenure track faculty, including with the title of Lecturer, Lecturer I, Lecturer II, Adjunct Instructor, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Professor of Practice, Visiting Assistant Professor, and Applied Music Instructor.

Q: I’m going to be away during break. Can my ballot be sent to a different address? 

Faculty can request ballot delivery to any address they prefer! If you’re going to be away from your address on file with USD, then call the NLRB immediately at 213-894-5254 to give them your preferred address for your ballot. If there is no answer when you call the NLRB, please leave a voicemail with your full name, title, employer’s name (the University of San Diego), and a short message with the address you’d like the ballot mailed to plus a phone number for a callback.

Q: How do I fill out a ballot?

A: –Review the instructions provided by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

-Mark “Yes” on your ballot. Please do not write your name or make any other markings on your ballot.

-Place the completed ballot in the blue envelope and seal it. Please do not write your name or make any changes to the blue envelope.

-Place the sealed blue envelope into the yellow envelope.

-Sign your name across the seal of the yellow envelope. You MUST do this in order for your vote to be counted.

-Drop it off at the post office or mailbox near you. No postage is necessary.

Q: What if I don’t get a ballot?

A: Employees who believe that they are eligible to vote and do not receive a ballot in the mail by Tuesday, May 28, 2024, or those who need a duplicate ballot, should call the NLRB Region 21 office at 213-894-5254 immediately. If there is no answer, please leave a voicemail with your full name, title, employer’s name (the University of San Diego), and a short message with the address you’d like the ballot mailed to and a phone number for a callback. You should also follow these instructions if you’re going to be away from your normal address during the election, and would like your ballot to be sent to a different address.

Q: Why didn’t we hold the election in the fall?

After the first election was canceled, CAS NTT faculty at USD who are leading the union campaign pushed for a new election as soon as possible. We’ve worked and advocated for a union election for many months, and we felt there was no reason to delay.

USD wanted to wait until the fall, but the NLRB dismissed its request and ordered a new mail-ballot election to start on May 20. We agree with the NLRB’s decision. The new election timeline allows for adequate time for voting by mail. In its ruling for a new election, the NLRB makes it clear that it set the date for ballot compiling and counting — June 18 — to allow enough time for mail ballots to be sent to the NLRB’s Region 21 office in Los Angeles.

USD has raised the concern of faculty being away from their normal addresses during break. We don’t see this as a credible concern, and, clearly, neither did the NLRB. Faculty can request a ballot be sent to any address they prefer (see instructions for that above) — so they can still vote if they are away from their normal address. Also, because this is a vote-by-mail election, faculty’s presence on campus is irrelevant.

Q: Who will set priorities for our contract?

A: After winning our union election, we will go into bargaining for our first contract with USD. Every member of the bargaining unit will be invited and encouraged to participate in a survey, conversations, and meetings that help identify the top priorities for non-tenure track faculty in CAS.

Q: How does the vote work?

A: We would need a simple majority (50% plus 1) of the votes in favor of a union for it to be established.

Q: What’s the process of electing a bargaining committee?

A: Non-tenure track faculty will nominate and elect peers to serve on the bargaining team. The elected bargaining team, supported by a lead negotiator and legal team, will negotiate our first collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with USD. After a tentative collective bargaining agreement is reached, it will be voted on by all non-tenure track faculty in the bargaining unit. Remember there is power in unit, but participation makes the difference.

Q: What are the legal obligations of employer to bargain and to honor our contract?

A: After winning our union election, USD is required to meet at reasonable times to bargain in good faith about wages, hours, vacation time, insurance, safety practices, and other mandatory subjects that are parts of the collective bargaining agreement. A CBA is a legally binding contract between an employer and employees represented by a union.

Campaign FAQ:

A: Why are we organizing?

For decades, higher education has trended away from tenure-track positions in favor of contingent, non-tenure track teaching appointments that offer no job security, much lower wages, and limited to no opportunities for advancement. USD is part of this trend: Many of its Non-Tenure Track (NTT) Faculty are denied basic protections and rights considered the baseline for other workers.

We are committed to the university’s mission of “advancing academic excellence to create a more inclusive, sustainable and hopeful world.” NTT Faculty members aim to make USD the best learning and mentorship environment possible for our students, providing them with the skills, values, and knowledge necessary to be critical thinkers and leaders.

We also want to make progress in our fields, advancing knowledge and understanding. Because our current conditions make these aims difficult, if not impossible, to achieve, NTT Faculty in USD’s College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) are forming a union with SEIU Local 721 — one of the most powerful unions in the nation that represents over 100,000 workers in Southern California.

NTT Faculty in other units on campus are building support to join SEIU 721, too. If you’re an NTT Faculty member who supports forming a union — whether you teach in CAS or another unit — then please click here and fill out this union authorization card. If you’d like to become involved in deeper organizing and support building for a union of NTT Faculty in CAS or for any other unit, then please contact Jesus Garcia at 213-280-7707.

Q: What is SEIU?

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is the leader nationally and in California in the representation of academic NTT faculty. More than 40,000 faculty across the county have organized with SEIU. All Non-Tenure Track Faculty in the California State University system are members of SEIU, through its affiliate the California Faculty Association (CFA). In addition, NTT Faculty at Santa Clara University, St. Mary’s College of California, Occidental College, and Otis College of Art and Design have organized with SEIU in California and LMU has a campaign currently underway. Specifically, our NTT Faculty union would be formed under SEIU Local 721 — one of the most powerful unions in the country, representing over 100,000 members in Southern California.

Q: Who will be in charge of our union?

A: We, the NTT Faculty at USD, embody and oversee every aspect of our union. We will use democratic processes to make decisions on what we want to bargain for and ultimately any contract will need a majority of our votes to pass. As members of SEIU, NTT Faculty ARE the union and are committed to working with faculty across the nation to build a powerful organization, giving faculty a real voice in higher education.

Q: What is meant by the term “exclusive representative”?

A: The term ‘sole and exclusive representative’ is a legal term that ensures that USD will recognize that we are joining SEIU Local 721. Still, as noted above, USD NTT Faculty will lead our union, set its priorities, and shape our first collective bargaining agreement (CBA) — or union contract — with the university, not a third party.

Q: Would a union prevent me from trying to resolve workplace issues on my own?

No. Even after establishing our union, all USD NTT Faculty will still be able to communicate directly with their supervisors and the administration about any workplace issues.

With a union, however, we can establish a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) — or union contract — that includes protections for NTT Faculty that make them more comfortable bringing issues and concerns to their managers. This includes protections against unfair termination — which tend to make employees feel safer in bringing any problems to their managers without fear of retaliation.

We will also fight to have our CBA include policies and mechanisms for addressing complaints and concerns individually or collectively. The university will be obligated to follow the guidelines laid out in the CBA by law — which gives us more power and leverage in our discussions with management. For instance, most NTT Faculty union CBAs establish what are called joint-labor management (JLM) meetings — where representatives of NTT Faculty and the university agree to regularly meet, discuss, and address workplace issues. Management can’t simply cancel these meetings without our consent.

In short: A union means much more meaningful and accountable communication with our managers and the administration, not less.

Q: What will a unoin mean for me in real terms?

A: Forming a union enables Non-Tenure Track Faculty to negotiate collectively for better terms of employment, using democratic processes to ensure that the interests of all Non-Tenure Track Faculty are represented. A union contract will establish a floor for what constitutes fair treatment and compensation, not a ceiling. At present, there is a ceiling but no floor.

Q: How much will it cost? Will I have to pay dues even if I don’t have classes?

No one will pay any union dues until we negotiate a contract establishing agreed-upon terms of employment. We will only approve a contract that results in better pay and working conditions for our members. This contract is then ratified by NTT Faculty through a democratic election. Dues will be 1.5% of our base pay before taxes. There are no initiation fees. No NTT Faculty member will pay dues for periods of time that you are not receiving a paycheck from the university.

Q: Am I allowed to voice my opinion on unionization? 

A: Yes. Federal law protects your right to organize a union. Under the National Labor Relations Act, you have the right to talk to your fellow faculty in the workplace about your views on unionization, organize with your coworkers to make your collective views known, attend meetings to discuss the benefits of union representation, and to distribute information to your coworkers about the union. It is against the law for an employer to threaten, coerce, or retaliate against you for exercising these legal rights in the workplace.

Q: What can I do if I feel intimidated at work, or am retaliated against for voicing my opinion on union representation? 

It is your legally protected right to join with your coworkers to organize for union representation. If you have been threatened or intimidated for exercising your rights in the workplace, please contact Jesus Garcia at 213-280-7707.

Q: Am I allowed to speak with union organizers during regular work hours?

A: Yes, you are allowed to talk to union organizers during regular work hours to the same extent as you can talk to other non-university employees about non-work matters while at work. This may mean that you would not talk to union organizers during your classroom time or when students are visiting you during office hours, but otherwise may speak to union organizers when you are on campus.

Q: Am I allowed to distribute literature or flyers to my coworkers during regular work hours?

A: Yes, you are allowed to distribute literature to your fellow faculty during regular work hours to the same extent as you can distribute other information to colleagues during this time. However, distribution of literature should not interrupt instruction time.

Q: Am I allowed to speak with union organizers on university property?

A: Yes, you may speak to union organizers on university property to the same extent you are allowed to speak with other individuals who are not associated with the university in areas that are not restricted to university personnel.

Q: Can I send emails voicing my opinion on unionization to my coworkers using my university email account?

A: USD’s computing resources policy states that the university’s computing resources can be used for “the free exchange of ideas among the members of the university community,” so you may use USD email accounts to the same extent you would use them for something that is not directly work-related. If you would be more comfortable using a non-USD account and receiving emails on your non-USD account, please send your non-university email address to Jesus Garcia at

Q: What effect will unionization have on faculty governance?

A: The collective power of a union will make our participation in governing bodies such as the Academic Assembly for the College of Arts and Sciences, and the university-wide Faculty Senate more meaningful. While participation in the Faculty Senate can work well for addressing academic issues, there are no meaningful mechanisms for faculty engagement around salaries, benefits, and all other terms of employment.

In the California State University system, the Faculty Senate governs academic issues, while the union negotiates workplace and employment issues. Union members there have successfully used the power of their union to protect faculty voice in academic governance.

Q: What have NTT faculty at other schools achieved by forming a union?

A: Across the country, NTT Faculty who have organized with SEIU have seen significant gains in wages, benefits, job security, and professional development resources.
Faculty at Santa Clara University, Occidental College, Otis College of Art and Design, Tufts University, Lesley University, Georgetown University, and Fordham University all made significant gains in their first contracts.

Q: Could we lose benefits we already have?

A: This has not happened in any faculty contract negotiated by our union, SEIU. In fact, faculty at Occidental College, Otis College of Art and Design, Tufts University, Lesley University, Georgetown University, Fordham University, Santa Clara University all made significant gains in their first contract negotiations.

Categories: Higher Education