By Daniella Walsh/LB Indy
On July 15 of this year, Laguna College of Art and Design president Jonathan Burke acknowledged in an e-mail to staff that the college’s part-time and adjunct instructors had voted to join the Local 721 Service Employees International Union. Voters provided ballots on July 11.
It was a close vote. According to a National Labor Relations Board tally, at total of 94 ballots were sent to eligible voters, and 67 votes were counted with 35 for unionization and 32 against.
The document also shows that five initially challenged votes were reduced to two, not enough to affect election outcome.
Now the college is petitioning the NLRB to hold a new election on grounds that it was too close and that instructor James Galindo was, besides being a part-time adjunct, also in a supervisory position where he could have advocated for union membership.
“We are not anti-union but we communicate best directly with our faculty and staff,” said Burke. He said that there will be a hearing before the National Labor Relations Board on Sept. 3.
The Stipulated Election Agreement between the college and the union dated May 21 and signed by counsel for both sides, also offers clear description of who is eligible to vote and who is not.
Under NLRB rules, LCAD was required to provide a list of eligible faculty. That document dated May 29, 2014 shows Galindo’s name 24th on that list.
Those prohibited from voting include full-time faculty, artists in residence, visiting instructors and those not teaching on the physical premises of LCAD, along all mentors and full-time administrators whether or not they also teach and other non-teaching employees.
Galindo describes himself as a working fine artist and teacher of beginning drawing.
“I have done some work that bleeds into management but I am still primarily an adjunct part-time instructor without receiving any benefits,” he said following the election. He declined to comment further until after the hearing.
A union representative providing background explanations spoke on grounds of anonymity since he was not authorized to comment on record. Los Angeles NLRB field examiner Liz Valtierra did not return phone calls by deadline.