WSN Archive
Adjuncts riled over potential merger
Union leader resigns over plan to join with New School peers
Laura de la Torre
9/16/04 0:00

Proposals for a merger between the locals of the NYU and New School University adjunct unions have caused an uproar among NYU adjuncts, and led one major organizer to quit his post.

Solo Dowuona-Hammond, a key member of the bargaining committee that won a contract with NYU last spring after months of turmoil and a near-strike by the adjuncts, quit the committee and revoked his membership in United Auto Workers Local 7902, the NYU adjuncts' union, in response to the union's actions.

Dowuona-Hammond, a School of Continuing and Professional Studies adjunct, said a proposal to merge Local 7902 at NYU with the local at New School is being imposed on adjuncts by national UAW officials.

'[The future of the bargaining committee and amalgamation] are issues that speak directly and forcefully to how Local 7902 is going to be administered and the thought of it ... frightens me,' he wrote in an e-mail.

Alleged unilateralism

Dowuona-Hammond, though not opposed to discussing amalgamation, said he was driven to resign by what he perceived to be the national union's undemocratic actions.

He charged that the national leaders were trying to stack the committee in their favor.

'The UAW wants to control the local, so they want adjuncts who are loyal to them and will do what they want,' he said.

During the negotiations last year, a few original elected members of the committee left for personal reasons. Under the circumstances, new members were appointed by the national union, adjunct and union officials said.

An election for new members during contract negotiations was impractical, said Ward Regan, an SCPS adjunct and interim president of the executive board. As soon as the contract is finalized, the committee will be dissolved, and an election is planned for the end of the month, he said.


At this month's election, adjuncts will vote on amalgamation with the New School, Regan said. However, in anticipation of the merger, the interim board already includes NYU and New School adjuncts.

Although New School adjuncts are still in the preliminary stages of contract bargaining with their school's administration - a process Regan said could take two years - he has no doubt that they will win a contract, after which combining New School and NYU adjuncts will benefit everyone, he said.

But some NYU adjuncts believe it is too early to think about amalgamating with the New School local.

'Since we have just opened the new semester, and this is the first time adjunct faculty will be teaching under a contract, people have not even had the opportunity to experience 'union life,' so to speak,' said Kathleen Hull, an SCPS adjunct professor.

'I think that amalgamation may be a drain on the energy of our local in fulfilling its obligations to the members of the NYU adjunct community, primarily because New School cannot stand on its own two feet yet,' Hull said.

But Regan said bargaining committee members overwhelmingly approved amalgamation.

'Amalgamation is not a done deal,' he said. 'This is not something that's being imposed on NYU faculty by UAW.'

If NYU amalgamates with the New School, they would still be two separate units within Local 7902 but would share an executive committee and an office, and would forego voting rights and authority as individual units of the UAW.

Lack of communication

Turmoil in the union extends beyond the fight over amalgamation, adjuncts said.

The union is a 'dysfunctional family,' where the UAW seems to be making all the decisions, said Steven Smith, a Gallatin and SCPS adjunct. He says he is unhappy about the lack of communication between the adjuncts and the UAW.

Adjuncts were given just one week last spring - during finals and graduation - to vote on the contract, a complicated legal document that affects the next six years of their lives, he said.

Smith, like many other adjuncts, said he is has not been properly informed about the local's plans.

'First you start with the information, then a discussion, then a vote,' Smith said. 'Without the first two steps you're going to end up in quicksand.'