After two years, it appears that part-time faculty in favor of unionization have won. GW announced this week that it would not appeal a recent D.C. Court of Appeals decision against the administration’s contention that the adjunct union vote should be thrown out. With so much time and so many resources spent so far, GW should use the lessons from this union experience in future dealings with campus interests.
It was ultimately the students who suffered from this experience, which mainly involved the University fighting a losing battle. Aside from the large amount of funds used to fight unionization in court, these activities left a bad taste in the mouths of many part-time faculty members. It is likely that teaching quality suffered as a result of this negative experience, which took place over a period of time that could have otherwise been dedicated to working with adjuncts on their concerns, or creating a plan to increase the amount of full-time faculty.
GW administrators should remember this experience in the future when dealing with any large portion of the University community. The resources and time devoted to this unsuccessful battle may have severely hurt students and staff, and the administration should thoroughly evaluate the costs and benefits of this battle.
Additionally, administrators will need to make a good faith effort to build a bridge with the major adjunct faculty leaders from this two-year ordeal. Hopefully, GW’s indications that it will come to the bargaining table with part-time faculty will provide a clean slate for cooperation that will benefit the University, its professors and its students.