Dutchess United Educators is the bargaining unit representing approximately 170 full-time educators (teaching and non-teaching) and approximately 300 part-time faculty and non-teaching educators at Dutchess Community College. On behalf of the constituencies it represents, DUE secures wages, benefits and working conditions negotiated through collective bargaining with the Dutchess Community College Board of Trustees. The Dutchess County Legislature approves the final contracts. DUE monitors working conditions and wages at DCC to assure the contractual agreements are followed, and works with the DCC administration to resolve any contractual issues that arise.
While DUE promotes and defends the interests of its members, it also organizes a community of professional educators, who are sensitive to students’ needs and committed to a sound educational environment for the College. There is frequent overlap between academic issues and union issues that, when addressed, serves to support and improve the overall academic experience for students. Three of many possible examples include the following:
1. Teaching workload and schedules, which directly affect student access to faculty and faculty ability to work effectively.
2. Professional development opportunities and support which serve to keep members up-to-date in their respective fields of expertise and bring strength, richness and vitality to interactions with students.
3. Endorsement of academic freedom in the classroom and throughout the campus community.
DUE, as a strong, effective union, also works in Dutchess County to build greater understanding of the role of the organization by offering accurate and positive perceptions about members’ contributions to the College and to the greater Hudson Valley region. A strong Dutchess United Educators is one of the best assurances of a healthy Dutchess Community College.
A Brief History of DUE
The organizing of a labor union at Dutchess Community College for faculty and professional staff came about because of three conditions that spurred activists to begin making plans for unionization and that led to the creation of what eventually became the Dutchess United Educators (DUE), the present union.
One event was the passage in 1967 of the Public Employees Fair Employment Act, known as the Taylor Law, which defined the rights and limitations of unions for public employees in New York State. The Taylor Law, named for labor researcher George W. Taylor, also authorized a governor-appointed State Public Employment Relations Board to resolve contract disputes for public employees. Mediation and binding arbitration were intended to give voice to unions, although work stoppages were made punishable with fines and jail time. The Taylor Law was the legal governmental support for union activity that was most influential to the effort of organizing at Dutchess Community College.
In spite of the strike limitations placed upon the unions and their members, it was a significant event--giving the faculty and professional staff of Dutchess Community College the right to organize and to give voice to their demands concerning working conditions and professional rights through contract negotiations with administrative management and the Board of Trustees. Defining these rights and standards was vital in the face of the founding college administration's stated position that there would never be such benefits for faculty as tenure, a statement of the standards of due process for non-renewal of employment contracts, or a faculty senate organized under a constitution outlining legitimate academic governance.
The second factor that contributed to the support of unionization was the membership of some instructors in the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), primarily because of previous employment or graduate study in higher education. These faculty members saw that this membership gave them the ability to create an AAUP chapter on the Dutchess Community College campus. Such a chapter could provide a ready-made parent organization, though the AAUP had historically not been involved in labor negotiations. The AAUP concerned itself with maintaining professional standards and preserving academic freedom on college campuses, of which an acceptable tenure policy and effective faculty governance were keystone items.
The third reason was an occurrence in 1969 that was referred to by some in the college administration as "the non-retention" of a faculty member, an Assistant Professor who had served without official criticism for over seven years, a period which AAUP defined as sufficient to require the granting of tenured status whether the college had such a policy in place or not. A significant number of faculty members saw this act as an implicit attack upon academic freedom for teaching staff, as did the AAUP, and as an unwarranted administrative move that undermined the rights and obligations of professional teachers, as well as denying "due process" to the faculty member involved. Furthermore, this arbitrary act could have established a precedent for future administration/faculty relations.
The members of the newborn AAUP chapter took the matter to the national organization which was willing to take up an investigation and issue a ruling by its standing committee on academic freedom. An investigator from the national office, Jordan E. Kurland (who went on to become a major leader of AAUP and to be its Executive Secretary), came to the campus for preliminary investigations and recommended that an investigating committee, made up of outside teaching professionals, be authorized to make a full inquiry, interview all relevant faculty and administrators, request pertinent documentation, and issue a report to the full membership of the national AAUP.
The investigation and the subsequent decision by the AAUP national membership later in 1969 to censure the college, the administration, and its Board, informed the professional staff and teaching faculty as to the power and authority the support of such a prestigious group would give to that staff and faculty — if they would organize to use it. Such democratic rule would not only support acceptable working conditions, but would ensure democratic professional input in such matters as curriculum development and revision and the creation of a college governance system that would meet AAUP standards.
Since at that time the AAUP was not set up to be a bargaining agent (as it has now become), the members of the DCC AAUP chapter decided that it was incumbent upon them to explore affiliation with organizations that would represent faculty and professional staff in bargaining, as mandated under the recently passed Taylor Law.
The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA) both seemed possible vehicles to various faculty members, and membership in these two organizations was explored. Approximately three quarters of the faculty preferred the AFT as a parent body for a Dutchess Chapter.
Approximately one quarter favored creating an independent "company" union for bargaining, which could be loosely affiliated with the NEA. This latter group preferred what they saw as a "professional" organization. The former, a majority of faculty, preferred the strength of a national labor union and its resources as well as its experience in tough collective bargaining. They saw the NEA as an association comprised of a large proportion of public school principals and district superintendents who did not share the economic or professional concerns of class room faculty and in some instances would work in opposition to them.
Turning for advice and aid to Dr. Israel Kugler, a union organizer of college faculty, teacher of social sciences at New York City Community College, and President of the United Federation of College Teachers, best known at the time for leading the faculty strike against St. John's University, and to Albert Shanker, who was head of the American Federation of Teachers as well as a president of the UFT, the majority of Dutchess Faculty joined the UFT / AFT. The much smaller group of faculty became a chapter of the NEA.
A question was raised as to exactly which group would take the lead in the collective bargaining. The administration appeared to some faculty to encourage the sense of conflict between the two groups as a bargaining ploy, a divide-and-conquer technique that would clearly disadvantage the faculty. As a creative move, the President of the UFT / AFT chapter suggested that, for this first collective bargaining with the Administration and the Board, the two groups join as a confederation to be known as Dutchess United Educators and that a negotiating team be selected that would represent both faculty groups. This amalgamation was effected and DUE was born in 1973. The later merger of NEA New York and UFT/AFT New York made moot the split within DUE.
Embarrassed by the AAUP censure, the college administration accepted a college governance system with a Professional Staff Organization, elective committees to consider curriculum, promotion and tenure issues as well as other professional matters such as sabbatical policy; and salary schedules tied to professional ranks that had been dealt with before this time by administrative fiat. The role of DUE was critical in defending academic integrity in the institution.
On behalf of its constituencies, DUE secures wages, benefits and working conditions negotiated through collective bargaining with the Dutchess Community College Board of Trustees. After final contract approval by the Dutchess County Legislature, DUE monitors the contract to ensure that the agreement is followed by both the college and DUE members.
Today DUE represents 175 full-time educators (faculty and non-teaching educators) and approximately 375 part-time educators (adjunct faculty and part-time non-teaching educators).
1973-1974 I. Jack Lippman
1974-1976 Arduino Menegat
1976-1979 O. Howard Winn
1979-1981 Francis Monahan
1981-1984 Richard Reitano
1984-1986 Mario Triola
1986-1988 Richard Reitano
1988-1993 Richard Malboeuf
1993-1995 George Stevens
1995-1997 Richard MacNamee
1997-2014 Joseph Norton
2014-2017 Johanna Halsey
2017-2020 Mark Condon
2020-2022 Werner Steger
Content includes contributions from Howard Winn, Professor Emeritus of English, Past President of the Dutchess Community College AAUP Chapter, the Dutchess Chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, and the Dutchess United Educators.