• Published Date:
  • Categories: Faculty Strike

Dear Howard University Community,

Given the potential impact on the University community, we write to share an update regarding ongoing negotiations to reach a collective bargaining agreement with certain unionized faculty members represented by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Local 500. The SEIU represents both part-time or adjunct faculty and non-tenure track (temporary faculty and master instructors) in certain Schools and Colleges. This is the first collective bargaining agreement in negotiation with the temporary faculty, and a renewal of the adjunct faculty agreement.

A negotiation session is scheduled for tomorrow, Friday, March 18, 2022. While the University will continue to negotiate in good faith, it is possible that SEIU has already called for a strike of temporary faculty in certain schools and colleges, March 23-25, 2022.  At this point, we know that the strike is planned, however, we do not know whether those faculty represented by SEIU will actually strike. If a strike were to occur, courses would continue as scheduled by our non-unionized faculty. The University will implement contingency plans to lessen any adverse impact on our students. 

SEIU and the University have been negotiating for an extended period of time, and there are a few principled issues on which we are in disagreement.  One of the most important issues are the negotiations around the University’s policy to generally limit appointments of full time temporary faculty to 7 years or the so called “7 year rule”.  SEIU demands the elimination of the policy.  This rule is in place to ensure that the University has the correct complement of faculty to meet the academic needs of our students while maintaining the flexibility that the University needs to meet and manage fiscal needs, and protect the integrity of the tenure process. Eliminating the seven-year rule would have significant implications on our University, including escalating costs for students, limiting the number of future temporary faculty openings, and eroding the tenure system for tenured and tenure track faculty.

During the negotiations, the University has;

  • Emphasized the creation of a “career status” position for those temporary faculty who are excellent teachers and meet the criteria set by the Board of Trustees.  Faculty in career status positions may remain employed by the University until retirement or voluntary resignation.  These career status positions are part of the University’s proposals to SEIU. However, SEIU has not mentioned this position in their public statements. 
  • Presented economic proposals for raises in salary to all current SEIU-represented faculty. We are committed to continue to bargain in good faith to reach an agreement.
  • Already reached a tentative agreement on a significant number of issues throughout the negotiations. The University remains committed to working with the SEIU, to achieve a final equitable solution that supports adjunct and non-tenure track faculty.

In keeping with our deep commitment to supporting faculty, the University has taken the following actions, even throughout the COVID-19 pandemic;

  • Faculty Pay Raises: In January 2022, more than 600 Howard faculty received raises using comparable compensation levels of faculty at peer institutions. While this did not impact SEIU-represented faculty because of the SEIU’s exclusive right to negotiate compensation for its members, it did benefit a large number of eligible non-SEIU represented faculty. We have made proposals for wage increases for SEIU-represented faculty and continue to bargain in good faith.
  • Investing in our Employees’ Future: In 2021, Howard invested an additional $80 million from the University endowment to fully fund the faculty retiree plan.
  • Avoiding Pandemic Layoffs: During the pandemic, Howard took the necessary steps to prevent group layoffs and furloughs of faculty or staff.
  • Faculty Development: All faculty benefit from faculty development efforts provided through the Office of Faculty Development in the Office of the Provost. This includes training programs, workshops, development sessions, etc.

 Our faculty, unionized and non-unionized, play a vital role in our community. We will continue working together with our faculty to ensure their success and the success of Howard students. We encourage SEIU to continue to negotiate in good faith with the University’s negotiating team to expeditiously arrive at an agreement that would serve the needs of our faculty, the University, and our students.  If the threat of a proposed strike continues, we will provide additional information to our Community.

Thank you.

Excellence in Truth and Service,

Anthony K. Wutoh, Ph.D., R.Ph. 
Provost and Chief Academic Officer