Notre Dame de Namur University professors received raises, additional health care benefits, greater job security and additional contract perks guaranteed through the first labor deal struck since the educators unionized.

The three-year agreement announced Wednesday, June 28, includes the first pay hike faculty has received in four years, as permanent educators will get raises worth between 8 percent and 9.5 percent and part-timers could see increases as high as 35 percent.

The contract comes more than one year after school officials refused to recognize a decision by professors at the private Belmont university to unionize, followed months later by a contentious round of budget reductions.

But in the immediate wake of the new contract agreement reached after nine months of negotiations, a representative for teachers at the Catholic university expressed appreciation for the settlement.

“After many years at NDNU, in spite of differences that at times feel overwhelming that divide faculty from administration, unionization has for the first time provided a process for faculty and administration to work together constructively to serve our students,” professor of education Bob Ferrar said in a prepared statement.

President Judith Greig also shared in a prepared statement her admiration for the collaboration required to make the new contract possible.

“Both the university and the union recognized that it is important to strike a balance between fair pay for faculty and keeping college affordable for the students; after all, tuition funds pay for faculty,” she said. “The president of the university believes that the new union contract strikes the best possible balance.”

Beyond the salary hikes, full-time educators will receive the same health care benefits as administrators while part-time faculty will have greater access to benefits.

Part-time professors can enjoy greater job security under the new contract, as the opportunity to teach a course will be offered to a qualified educator before a new hire is sought.

More than half the courses taught at NDNU were led by part-time educators, despite previously being offered little reassurance their positions will continue to exist from one year to the next.

More money will be available for professional development and independent study while teacher representatives also believe the higher pay rates and perks will make the university more competitive in hiring new educators, according to a press release. Funds will also be set aside to recruit new minority faculty members and offer training for teaching first-generation college students.

Notably, the deal preserves terms of shared-governance and establishes a committee charged with resolving workforce issues related to training, duties, workload and other potential sticking points.

The threat for teachers to lose access to shared-governance was a primary reason brought by school officials in their opposition of unionization.

The labor organization process was led by SEIU 1021 which has helped settle new contracts for unions at other Bay Area colleges such as the San Francisco Art Institute, the Dominican University of California, Saint Mary’s College and others.

Following the National Labor Relations Board certifying the unionization vote last year, part-time teachers were able to join their full-time counterparts at the bargaining table.

A member of the teachers’ bargaining team credited the collaborative approach as a primary reason they considered the terms of the new deal so agreeable.

“Despite being certified by the NLRB as two separate bargaining units, we set a priority of winning a single contract covering full-time tenured/tenure-track and part-time (adjunct) faculty,” Kristen Edwards, part-time lecturer, said in a prepared statement. “The process of working together to support each other’s priorities brought together the entire faculty at NDNU and yielded a stronger contract for all of us.”

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