AVON PARK — By a two to one vote, South Florida State College adjunct faculty voted against the unionization effort by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
The votes were tallied at the office of the Public Employees Relations Commission (PERC) on April 30.
A total of 115 ballots were received, with only 37 voting in favor of the SEIU unionization effort (with nine challenged ballots and one void ballot), according to SFSC. The final vote was 68 against and 37 in favor of the SEIU.
The college issued the same statement it offered during the union voting, which took place in April, “SFSC highly values our adjunct faculty and has always tried to provide compensation and support services accordingly. Adjunct faculty bring practical knowledge and the flexibility needed to provide instruction that would otherwise be unavailable to many of our students.”
In an April 1 message to faculty and staff, SFSC President Thomas Leitzel said the SEIU has been extremely aggressive in their efforts to convince Florida College System adjunct faculty at many of its sister colleges as well as at SFSC that they can secure employment protections and higher compensation for them.
Although the unionization effort was not started by SFSC faculty nor encouraged by college administration, union organizers took it upon themselves to begin the solicitation, he said. The SFSC District Board of Trustees has been and will continue to be the final authority on employee compensation and contractual matters, with or without union representation, Leitzel said.
In March, Miami Dade College and University of South Florida adjunct faculty voted to unionize and Lake-Sumter State College adjunct faculty voted to unionize in April.
Santa Fe College (Gainesville) administration is working to block adjuncts’ right to form a union, according to a Friday opinion piece from a Sante Fe adjunct faculty member in The Gainesville Sun. The college has hired an outside law firm to contest the right to vote.
In December 2018, Highlands News-Sun was informed by SFSC that it has 125 active adjunct instructors. The salary range for these instructors was $19.50-$36.08 per contact hour depending on their academic rank.