History of part-time faculty collective bargaining prohibition in Ohio
Adjuncts and graduate students at public colleges and universities in Ohio are excluded from the definition of public employee for the purpose of collective bargaining. ORC 4117.01. C (14) refers specifically to part-time faculty, and C (11) to graduate assistants. However, this does not mean that adjuncts and graduate students cannot unionize or persuade institutions to bargain with them.
As explained to us by a lawyer for AAUP:
“The statute in Ohio grants the right to engage in collective bargaining to some, but not all, public employees in the state. Full-time faculty are covered by the statute, and as you know many have succeeded in forming unions. For any group covered by the law, the path to union formation can include having the state labor board conduct an election, and the resultant union can avail itself of remedies offered by the labor board if the employer engages in any activities that are prohibited by statute.
“Part-time faculty (and some other groups of public workers) are not covered by this legislation. This means that they cannot petition the labor board to conduct an election to decide the question of union representation. And any such group cannot seek relief from the labor board if the public employer engages in unlawful practices.
“But there is a difference between a specified activity not being covered by a law, and it being prohibited under the law. There is no legal framework provided in OH for part-time faculty to unionize, and nothing that compels a public institution of higher learning to deal with a union as the representative of its part-time faculty. But at the same time, there is nothing that prohibits part-time faculty from themselves forming a union, and nothing unlawful about a college or university voluntarily dealing with them as a union. The distinction is not entirely abstract: before the passage of the initial legislation in Ohio, there were some groups of public employees (including some full-time faculty) who had persuaded their public employer to recognize them as a union, and deal with them as such.”
No college or university that we know of has voluntarily agreed to recognize or deal with an association of part-time faculty members as a union (or as if they were a union). Please let us know if you know otherwise.
Timeline of state legislation
March 8, 2013 – State legislators introduce bills that would give adjuncts collective bargaining rights. State Rep. Fred Strahorn introduced House Bill 96, and State Senator Nina Turner introduced Senate Bill 65, companion legislation that would grant collective bargaining rights to adjunct faculty and graduate students in the 130th General Assembly Regular Session 2013-2014. New Faculty Majority and the Ohio Part-Time Faculty Association issue a statement in support.
Late February 2009 – State Rep Promises Advocacy – At a Faculty-Legislator exchange sponsored by the Ohio Conference AAUP, Representative Kathleen Chandler promised to revive this legislation after being petitioned by two part-time faculty members at the University of Akron.
11/12/09 – State Rep Offers Legislation – Rep Chandler comes through for Part-time Faculty and Grad Students! See above.
5/26/10 – HB 365 recommended for passage in House Commerce and Labor Committee – See Inside Higher Ed News.
2/5/11 – November Election Deals Blow – With the results of the November election, continued progress on this issue has been dealt a serious, if not fatal, blow. Nevertheless, the Ohio Part-time Faculty Association aims to continue our efforts to educate the government of the state of Ohio about the deplorable working conditions of part-time faculty members and graduate students and the urgent need for reform.