NLRB Charges Filed Against the University of San Francisco Management
by the USF Part Time Faculty Association (PTFA) 2019-2020

Sign the Online Petition:
USF Management, Stop the Censorship - Retaliation - Discrimination
of/against Part Time Faculty! [petition is closed]
(December 2019)

Background and NLRB Updates:

On 30 October 2018, during a negotiations meeting, the Management representative for the College of Arts and Sciences made threats of reprisals against Union officers at the bargaining table.  It stemmed from a Union dispute between full time faculty in the department of Media Studies and the president of the PTFA.

In February 2019, the PTFA filed an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and included the 10/30/2018 incident among several allegations against USF Management.  In April, Management demanded that the PTFA drop the ULP in order to conclude negotiations, saying parties could resolve the issues through informal discussion.  The PTFA dropped the ULP, believing that USF Management would make a good faith effort to discuss and resolve issues keeping with USF's Mission and Values, and Jesuit tradition. 

In June 2019, PTFA President Higgins and VP Bae met with President Fitzgerald and Provost Heller.  Heller stated that issues could be resolved through information discussions as long as grievances, arbitration, or the NLRB were involved.  In August, the Union provided extensive information to Heller about Union concerns related to the February NLRB ULP.  Heller then told the Union to file a charge with HR rather than to discuss issues with him. 

Since USF Management reneged on their promise to resolve issues informally, in September 2019 the PTFA again filed with the NLRB. The ULP included February's charges as well as new ones, as Management continued to make good on the threats of retaliation against PTFA officers and members made on 10/30/2018. 

In November 2019 the PTFA filed a new ULP with the NLRB based on new retaliation episodes by Management against President Higgins.  This included Management's order to President Higgins that he not attend or present at a conference in Brussels because a tenured full time faculty member from his department was also participating in the conference.  Higgins was traveling and attending the conference on personal funds, with no university support, representing the PTFA.

The NLRB's initial decision re: some of the above:

1. The PTFA can't re-file the February 2019 ULP because the time has expired for some of the allegations in the ULP (6 months is the NLRB limit). USF Management met its basic obligations: it did meet to discuss with the President and VP of the PTFA. Apparently one meeting was enough to fulfill Management's legal obligations, if not the spirit of their promise.

2. The PTFA is able to pursue a grievance on behalf of part time faculty who were forbidden by USF Management from applying for PHP in October 2019. These faculty were not eligible to apply in February 2019, but met the PHP criteria at the end of Spring Semester 2019. The PTFA argued they should be allowed to apply for PHP; Management refused to discuss. This was a unilateral decision by Management on an issue that should be determined by negotiations. The Union argues that the adjuncts denied the right to apply should be admitted to PHP-1, should their applications have merit. We further argue that these newly-appointed PHP faculty should be in addition to the limited number of PHP slots (8) designated in the CBA.

3. The PTFA is able to pursue a grievance on behalf of President Higgins, who has been ordered not to enter his department office because of his Union activities in the department and in the College of Arts and Sciences. The Union mail is delivered to the Media Studies department office.

4. The PTFA is appealing the NLRB's initial decision regarding Management's order to Higgins not to attend any department meeting because of his Union activities, including meetings to which all other adjuncts are permitted to attend.

5. In the June 2019 meeting with Heller, Fitzgerald, Higgins, and Bae, the Provost stated that Management had oversight of all colleges, schools, departments, and programs. Management could require that departments include adjuncts at meetings, and could require that departments that had recently banned adjuncts from all but a single meeting per semester reverse their bylaws to again allow adjuncts to attend all meetings. The failure of Management to appropriately oversee departments and programs has led to discrimination against part time faculty, as stated in the November 2019 ULP.

Sign the Online Petition:
USF Management, Stop the Censorship - Retaliation - Discrimination
of/against Part Time Faculty! [petition is closed]

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    PTFA Files Charges with NLRB:
    Discrimination - Retaliation - Censorship
    (November 2019)

    On November 4, 2019, the PTFA filed an Unfair Labor Practice with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against USF Management for discrimination, retaliation, and censorship against Union members and officers.

    STOP DISCRIMINATION against part time faculty

    "we're not going to listen to a bunch of adjuncts."

    [USF Management during contract talks]

    The current dispute with Management at the University of San Francisco started October 2018 when Management condoned discrimination against part time faculty by full time faculty in USF's Media Studies department, who voted to strip adjuncts of their right to attend all department meetings. After the department refused to discuss the issue with adjuncts or the Union, the Union Policy Board passed a Resolution for USF Media Studies to Reinstate Participation Rights of Part Time Faculty  

    Management then escalated a situation that began with its own failure to provide appropriate oversight to Management "designees" -- by retaliating against Union officers and PTFA members.


    STOP RETALIATION for Union activities by part time faculty

    "We got rid of one Union president.  We can get rid of another." 

    [USF Management during contract talks]

    USF Management continue to escalate a campaign of retaliation for Union activities against officers and members of the USF Part Time Faculty Association (PTFA), Local 6590 of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). In response, the Union has filed an Unfair Labor Practice with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against USF Management. 

    Union officers are also part time faculty ("adjuncts," "contingent faculty"), and survive on the benevolence of Management and patronage of full time faculty who act as Management "designees" in their capacity as chairs and directors. 

    STOP CENSORSHIP of part time faculty

    "you will not be in attendance and presenting at the conference"

    [USF Management banning the Union president from discussing Management retaliation and discrimination]

    The PTFA Union president described the dispute with USF Management and full time faculty and the related critical issues of tenure, power, and privilege in a presentation proposed and accepted for the OURMedia conference of scholars and activists in Brussels, Belgium.  The presentation: Checking Your Privilege: Challenging Tenured Faculty's Hegemony Over the Majority Part-Timers in the Campus 'Gig' Economy. 

    USF Management then forbade the Union president from attending or presenting at the conference.  The November 2019 OURMedia conference theme is Mediactivist - Sholaractivism.  (available: )

    In response, the Union has filed an Unfair Labor Practice with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against USF Management.



    Ironically, as a Jesuit institution ostensibly embracing progressive social values, USF's motto is Change the World from Here.  USF Management does not seem to believe this applies to USF part-time faculty or Union leaders who attempt to address, or even discuss, inequities within higher education, including our distinguished and beloved institution, the University of San Francisco.


    "Deja-Vu All Over Again": PTFA Re-Files Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) Charge with NLRB Against USF Management (Sept 2019)

    In early September, the PTFA filed Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against USF Management. 

    Failure to Bargain in Good Faith
    One ULP involves failure to bargain in good faith. In April, Management told the PTFA if we dropped the ULP at the close of negotiations, we could informally discuss and resolve the issues involved.  President John Higgins and VP Sue Bae met with President Fitzgerald and Provost Heller in June and then sent information regarding the issues; the Provost then withdrew the offer to resolve issues informally in August. The Union charges Management with Failure to Bargain in Good Faith, by having the PTFA withdraw the ULP with the promise of informal discussions to resolve the disputed issues and then renege on the agreement months later.  Unfortunately, this follows a pattern of backpedaling by Management on similar agreements. The PTFA officers are always willing to discuss and resolve issues through dialogue, and to ardently stand up for our members' rights when the offer of talks is withdrawn. 

    Reprisals for Union Activity
    The PTFA also filed a ULP re: retaliation for union activity.  Management continues to retaliate against the PTFA president for union activity in the department, college, and university.  This charge was included in the ULP the PTFA filed in February, but withdrew in April at Management's request and assurance of informal discussions to resolve issues involved.

    PTFA leadership recognize this involves issues we've raised with USFFA (full time faculty union) leadership in the past: adjuncts' concerns about full time faculty acting as "Management agents" or "Management designees" over part time faculty when serving in their positions as chairs and directors. The full time faculty CBA does not include managerial actions by full time faculty.  The PTFA has requested the USFFA tell Management the full time faculty union will not accept chairs and directors acting in a managerial capacity.  PTFA counsel state that full time faculty acting in the capacity of managers (assigning courses, evaluating adjuncts, and other managerial duties) can be held responsible for illegal behavior ordered by Management.  This includes violations of the PTFA CBA and retaliation.  Retaliation for Union activity is a violation of labor law. 

    We've asked the CFT to help facilitate dialogue between Locals 6590 (PTFA) and 4269 (USFFA) to address and resolve issues.  We look forward to a unified front of part time and full time faculty in the face Management attempts to divide us. 

    USF Management Reneges on Agreement
    to Discuss NLRB Issues (August 2019)

    See "Deja-Vu All Over Again" -- "Failure to Bargain in Good Faith," September 2019 (above)


    USF-PTFA Withdraws Charges with NLRB (April 2019)

    On 17 April 2019, the PTFA withdrew the Unfair Labor Practice filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against USF Management for illegal actions, including reprisals against Union officers. At Management's request, the Union dropped the NLRB charge in April after bargaining ended.

    As mentioned in the message to members, "After the conclusion an extended and often heated bargaining process, the PTFA seeks to return to a cordial and respectful working relationship with USF Administration. We are withdrawing grievances and the NLRB charges in the belief that the remaining outstanding issues can be resolved through mediated discussions."

    USF-PTFA Files Charges with NLRB (Feb 2019)

    1. PTFA Files Unfair Labor Practices Charge
    with NLRB Against USF Administration
    2. Example of Administration Violations of Our CBA

    1. Part Time Faculty File NLRB Charge of
    "Unfair Labor Practices" Against USF Administration

    February 12, 2019
    San Francisco
    Contact: officers [at]

    The USF Part Time Faculty Association (USF-PTFA), a union of approximately 650 adjunct faculty at the University of San Francisco, filed charges of Unfair Labor Practices against USF Administration with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on February 11.  The PTFA is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers/California Federation of Teachers, Local 6590.
    The Union and USF Administration are currently engaged in contract negotiations that began in June 2018.  The negotiations are the longest in the Union's 36 year history.  A federal mediator has been involved since summer 2018.
    "Administration has been dragging their feet in negotiations since the first day," said John Higgins, PTFA President.  "They've violated the current contract before and during negotiations.  They've threatened and tried to intimidate the Union bargaining team. Some of our members will not file grievances because of fear of retaliation.  The Union hoped we'd be able to negotiate amicably, but Administration has chosen a different path.  Part time faculty at USF deserve a fair contract for us to better serve our students."
    The NLRB charge was necessary because the USF Administration:
    • Failed to follow provisions of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA);
    • Failed to notify adjuncts of the acceptance of 2019 PHP applications;
    • Failed to provide information to the Union required to appropriately represent members;
    • Made unilateral changes to the current CBA without notice to the Union;
    • Used intimidation and threats against part-time faculty on the Union negotiating team;
    The last negotiations meeting between the Part Time Faculty Association and University Management took place on December 17, 2018.  The next meeting is scheduled for February 28, 2019. 
    Contested items include
    • Salary (the Union proposes a 5% increase over 2 years, equal to the % increases of full time faculty);
    • Health care rates (adjuncts currently pay more for health care premiums than any other covered group on campus);
    • Job security and predictability;
    • The manner by which part time faculty are assigned courses;
    • Part Time Faculty Peer Review Committee with adjunct input on promotion applications and evaluation processes;
    • Inclusion of part time faculty into decision-making at all levels of the university;
    • University attempts to freeze promotion in the "Preferred Hiring Pool," (PHP is the only promotion structure for part time faculty at USF).  
    • Security and benefits for members who do not have PHP status.
    Sue Bae, Vice President of the PTFA, said "We love USF.  Our Mission and Values speak of Jesuit values, social justice, and concern for human rights.  The University's motto is, `change the world from here.'  That's what we're trying to do - change for the better our lives as adjunct faculty, our university, and the students we work with."
    Additional Information:
    Facebook: usfPTFA               
    Twitter: @usfPTFA
    Instagram: usfPTFA


    2. PHP Applications an Example of
    Administration Violations of Our CBA

    February 14, 2019
    TO: PTFA Membership
    FROM: PTFA Executive Committee

    We recently notified you that the PTFA filed charges of Unfair Labor Practices with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against USF Administration (see item #3, below).

    Here's one example of why we filed on your behalf -- and what the Association has been encountering with Administration during contract talks:

    Our current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) discusses the Preferred Hiring Pool (PHP), the only system of promotion for adjunct faculty.  Section 12. 1 of the CBA says that
    "Application to the PHP is submitted to the dean each spring semester on or before February 15th."  
    This process holds even during contract talks.  Unilaterally changing the current CBA during negotiations is a violation of labor law.

    After hearing complaints that deans and chairs were telling adjuncts that they could not apply for PHP this February, the PTFA sent this demand to Administration on January 28:
     "[...] the Union requires by Tuesday, January 29, 5:00pm information about the application process to be followed for 2019 PHP applications in each college and school.

    "The Union requests by Friday, Feb 1, 5:00pm documentation that all deans, chairs/directors, and appropriate parties have been notified that the PHP application process is open and accepting applications, and that they have shared this information and the application processes with part-time faculty in their college/school/department.  

    "Note, too, that unilateral changes of the CBA and current practices by Management to PHP seniority course assignments during negotiations are considered a violation of the CBA, as well as an unfair labor practice by making a unilateral change at this time [...]

    A discussion between Administration and the Union reached agreement on this process and statement:

    "The University and the USF Part Time Faculty Association are currently engaged in contract negotiations.  We have agreed to the following: 
    "By Feb 15, 2019, applicants for PHP and PHP 2 need only send a brief email to their Associate Dean indicating an intent to submit.  Chair notification and supporting documents are not required at this time. The actual deadline date for submissions will be no earlier than April 1, and will be announced in a subsequent communication."

    As per the agreement, both the Union and Administration were supposed to send this statement to all USF part time faculty.  The Union sent the message to members on Feb 3 and immediately confirmed with Administration the delivery.  We expected that Administration would notify adjuncts soon thereafter.  We waited.  And waited. 

    Finally, on Feb 7, the Union requested evidence that Administration sent the notice to all USF part time faculty.  Administration provided no evidence as of Feb 11.  We understand that at least one chair did notify adjuncts in the department, but there was no widespread notification by Administration to correct their misstatements about PHP applications.  
    Bottom line: Administration sent no notice about PHP applications, thereby reneging on the agreement.

    This was the last straw in a string of similar actions by Administration since August 2017.  The Union had no option but to hold USF Administration accountable and file charges of several Unfair Labor Practices with the NLRB on February 11.

    We can negotiate a new contract, but the CBA is only as strong as the will of Union members to enforce the contract.  We must hold Administration accountable.

    You have a right under our CBA to apply for PHP spring 2019.  
    To do so, 

    "By Feb 15, 2019, applicants for PHP and PHP 2 need only send a brief email to their Associate Dean indicating an intent to submit.  Chair notification and supporting documents are not required at this time. The actual deadline date for submissions will be no earlier than April 1, and will be announced in a subsequent communication."

    We recommend that you send a copy or your message to officers [at]