What could it mean if HCC faculty unionize? 

May 1 – Faculty members at the Hagerstown Community College announced yesterday their intentions to unionize. 

Faculty members are considering affiliation with the American Federation of Teachers and unionization cards have been filed with the Maryland Public Employee Relations Board. 

What are the logistics here? What has to happen for them to unionize? 

Attorney Clint Barkdoll said, “It’s not a done deal. I mean, procedurally, once those cards are circulated and typically the threshold is if you get more than half of the workforce to sign a union card that then triggers a formal election that the NLRB would oversee, by the way. So it’s not a done deal. But the fact that cards have been submitted, odds are very great that this will come to fruition and of course, assuming that they do join the union, that’s going to affect bargaining when it comes to pay and benefits, work conditions, etc. I hate to say this as a trend, but it sounds like this is starting to take hold more and more at Community Colleges, faculty and staff are joining collective bargaining units, unionizing when it comes to all of these issues. HCC, they have a big footprint there in Hagerstown. I mean, they’ve been growing tremendously over the years and they have a very large workforce, faculty and staff. So no doubt this is going to change the way things are going to operate there.” 

Michele Jansen of NewsTalk 103.7FM said, “That is a trend. It used to be that the unionization was huge in the public sector in more recent years, and then very low and declining in the private sector. Now there’s been this turnaround with this sort of change of communal looking and we need to have everyone have equal power ideology that comes along with equity and DEI policies has also been a rise then of a push for unionization within the private sector, as well. You’re just seeing it. It’s part of the whole trend. Sometimes I believe unions can be helpful, but I think in many cases, they get a little mono-focused on certain aspects of only improving the employee in an acute short term manner, without thinking about how it’s going to impact the whole group or whole industry long term.”

Barkdoll said, “It can be a mixed bag as an employee. I used to work in a place in DC that unionized while I was there, and as you’re saying, there can be benefits. Oftentimes it will enhance your pay. But then of course, you’re going to be paying dues to the union. Oftentimes, there are going to be new conditions imposed regarding hours and work conditions that may not be as flexible as they had before they unionized. These are likely some of the private debates that will now be occurring over the next few weeks leading up to that formal election. But more and more you’re seeing private and public universities and unions you would not expect, I mean, I think the Steel Workers Union, they now represent some faculty at colleges and universities. We know the Teamsters, they’ve been targeting white collar workforces. So the whole dynamics of this have really changed over the last five years or so.”