May 25, 2022

Get Ready to Vote

Dear Faculty,

We wanted to make sure you are aware that the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) recently issued a revised notice of election to determine whether ArtCenter faculty choose to join a union. The date change was initiated by the NLRB, not the College. Ballots will now be issued by the NLRB to eligible voters, via mail, on May 27, 2022.  Completed ballots must be received by the NLRB by June 17 and the ballot count will occur on June 21.

Prior to the date change, the College mailed a postcard to eligible faculty members. The correct information is now:

We suggest you return your ballot… no later than June 10 (not June 7) to ensure it arrives at the NLRB by the June 17 deadline (not June 13).

Accordingly, in the next few days, you should receive in the mail your election ballot from the NLRB. If you will not be at the home address we have on file for you during the May 27–June 17 mail election period, please immediately provide the NLRB with the address where you will receive mail during that time. If you do not receive your ballot by June 6, please call the NLRB and ask them to send you a replacement ballot. The NLRB can be reached at 310 235-7352 or 844 762-6572.

More than anything, we want you to exercise your right to vote and make an informed decision as to whether you choose to be represented by the California Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO. Faculty representation could significantly change our culture and how we work together, so this choice should not be taken lightly. As you consider what’s best for you, please keep in mind the following facts:

Union representation is determined by a simple majority of those who vote. There are approximately 700 faculty who are eligible to vote. If only 100 faculty cast ballots, a simple majority of those 100 individuals will determine the outcome for all 700+ full- and part-time faculty. So please vote to make your voice heard and to help ensure that the outcome is supported by the majority of all faculty in the voting unit and not just the majority of those who vote. 

Regardless of how you vote, or if you don’t vote, you will be bound by the outcome of the election. If the CFT, AFL-CIO prevails in this election, all ArtCenter faculty who are in the voting unit will be subject to union representation and any resulting collective bargaining agreement. Faculty in the voting unit would not have the ability to opt out or decline union representation.

The union cannot guarantee promises of better pay and benefits, job security, greater influence in decision-making or changes to workplace policies and practices. If the union were to prevail in the election, all of these topics would be subject to negotiation under a collective bargaining agreement. This could affect our employment agreements and contract types, teaching loads, how classes get assigned, non-instructional activities, interdisciplinary and team teaching, and significantly, our ability to be nimble and flexible in meeting the differing and unique needs of our faculty and students.  

Union representation is not free — not to you or to ArtCenter. Educators and classified professionals represented by CFT, AFL-CIO pay anywhere from $71 to $569 in dues to the union annually, depending on their income. These are post-tax dollars taken out of employees' net pay. It’s also important to consider the legal and administrative costs that ArtCenter would incur to execute a collective bargaining agreement and ensure ongoing compliance with its terms. Unlike public institutions represented by CFT, AFL-CIO, ArtCenter does not receive operating funds from the State of California, so we would have to find ways to cover these additional costs from an already stretched operating budget that is funded largely by student tuition. 

For more facts about unionization, please see the attached document. And there is much more information available on our Faculty Life webpage. 

After you gather all the facts, we hope you vote “No” and choose instead to maintain your direct relationship with the College. As I prepare to step down after 13 years as president of ArtCenter, I reflect with tremendous pride on how our system of shared governance and your direct input have made all the difference at ArtCenter, including our current efforts to recruit a new group of BIPOC faculty and increase diversity within our student body; hire administrators to support faculty development and pedagogical advancements; create new faculty programs and services; enhance our curricular offerings; improve and expand our facilities; respond swiftly and thoughtfully to the pandemic (and our safe return); establish a new and promising “shared governance senate” initiated beautifully by the faculty themselves; and several substantive improvements to the teaching environment at ArtCenter and the quality of education we offer to our students. I know that Karen feels passionately about taking this partnership to the next level – hopefully, directly with you rather than through an intermediary.

No matter the outcome of the vote, I hope that mutual respect and acceptance of differing perspectives will remain central to our culture. 

Thank you for all you do for ArtCenter and our students.

Dr. Lorne M. Buchman


Art Center College of Design