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City News



June 5, 2014

Seattle University Contingent Faculty Declare Victory in Ongoing Fight to Form a Union, Antioch University Votes in July

June 5, 2014 | By |

Seattle University contingent faculty are confident of victory in their union campaign to join thousands of non-tenure track faculty nationwide in a rapidly growing movement, despite roadblocks by University administration that prevented a vote count on Tuesday.

“We are encouraged by the strong support and the great turnout among adjunct and contingent faculty, and we are very confident that we won the vote,” said SU contingent faculty member Louisa Edgerly.

Voting ended on June 2, and ballots have been impounded pending a decision on SU administration’s appeal to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Washington, D.C. SEIU Local 925, the contingent faculty union, will file a special appeal to the NLRB for the ballots to be counted.

“We ask our administration to drop their appeal, respect the democratic process, and allow the votes to be counted. We are committed to work towards success, and we will continue our organizing effort as long as it takes. We look forward to getting to the bargaining table with the administration, and establishing an effective dialogue with Seattle University,” said Edgerly.

Over 700 students, alumni and faculty have demanded that SU administration respect the right of contingent faculty to vote on forming a union. The Student Government of Seattle University also released a statement asking that the appeal be dropped.

Even with no guarantee of having a job the next semester, adjunct and contingent faculty are bravely speaking out in unprecedented ways – forming unions from coast to coast, taking action online and offline, and uniting across employers and cities to raise standards for all educators, improve the quality of education, and win the good jobs that will get our economy moving again.

 The next contingent faculty union election in Seattle will be at Antioch University. Ballots will be mailed out July 7 and are due back by July 23. Antioch University Seattle faculty member Alex Suarez, said, “I am delighted that Antioch University Seattle, following its longstanding tradition of social justice, is getting ready to vote for unionization. Our union will ensure that the voice of the faculty is clearly heard and attended to within the university. Through our union, my colleagues and I will be empowered to improve the conditions that foster learning and development in students and quality of life for all. I hope everyone realizes how good this can be for everyone in Academia. These are such exciting times!”



May 30, 2014

SF Art Institute Adjuncts Vote by a Landslide to Form a Union with SEIU

May 30, 2014 | By |

Two weeks after Mills College, SFAI’s “visiting faculty,” as the school calls them, are the latest group of adjunct professors to join SEIU through the nationwide Adjunct Action campaign. At San Francisco Art Institute, a well-known and respected private nonprofit arts college—where students pay almost $40,000 a year in tuition alone—roughly 78% of the faculty (about 200 teachers) are essentially part-time temp workers.

They have no job security from semester to semester. They are paid by the course, often earning less than $30,000 a year with no benefits even teaching several classes, despite having advanced degrees, exemplary performance and evaluations and years of teaching experience. Classes may be added or cancelled at the last minute, leaving them in a financial lurch and creating constant instability. The school calls them “visiting faculty,” no matter how long they have been teaching there—prompting jokes such as “visiting for life,” or “I have been visiting for 17 years.” 

“We want an end to a climate of fear that resonates even where we gather online. We want the security to do the work on which SFAI depends whether it admits it or not. We want the standing to communicate our knowledge of the needs and problems of the institution to which we are devoted without fear of reprisal. SFAI will benefit from an organized and empowered cohort of adjunct teachers,” says Dale Carrico, a professor of critical thinking at SFAI. 

Visiting faculty have now taken a stand. They have voted by 78% (124 to 35) to form a union through SEIU Local 1021—despite an aggressive anti-union campaign by their administration, under the leadership of President Charles Desmarais, who simultaneously sang the praises of his father, a Teamsters shop steward, while warning his faculty that a union in a small art college would disrupt their “close-knit artistic community.” Visiting faculty have decisively repudiated that argument. 

Adjunct faculty at Mills College in Oakland also voted by a 78% margin to form a union with SEIU Local 1021 on May 14. The following day, adjuncts at Northeastern University in Boston voted to form a union with SEIU. They join over 20,000 adjuncts nationwide who have now unionized with SEIU through the Adjunct Action campaign. 

Just a few decades ago, adjuncts constituted a minority of faculty, and were most often professionals who did not consider teaching their career. However, now over 50% of faculty nationwide are contingent, and about 75% in the Bay Area, even as tuition skyrockets and student debt becomes more and more unmanageable. As universities are increasingly run like corporations, trying to bring in more money with ever lower labor costs, the teachers educating students increasingly feel the need to take a stand to improve not only their own quality of life, but also the quality of the education their students are paying for so dearly.

 For more information, visit



May 15, 2014

Elizabeth Warren Congratulates Northeastern Adjuncts on Victory

May 15, 2014 | By |

Senator Elizabeth Warren offered her congratulations to the adjunct faculty at Northeastern Univerity who voted today to form a union with SEIU. Below is her statement:

“Adjunct professors have exceptional qualifications and expertise that qualify them to teach the most demanding college courses, but too often they earn very little and must cobble together multiple part-time jobs to make a living that will keep them afloat.  Such arrangements are hard on the adjunct professors and hard on the students who depend on them.

Congratulations to the adjunct professors of Northeastern University who have decided to seek collective bargaining and organize a union.  I hope this will be the beginning of a new era that permits adjunct professors to improve their working conditions and expand their opportunities to be even more effective teachers.”  




May 15, 2014

Northeastern Adjunct Faculty Vote to Form A Union with SEIU

May 15, 2014 | By |

Yes. Yes to a union. Yes to a collective voice for adjunct faculty. Yes to a better education for students. Yes to forming the biggest adjunct union in Boston.

That’s what happened today in a small room filled with a lot of excitement at the National Labor Relations Board in Boston, as adjunct faculty from Northeastern University (NU) and representatives from the National Labor Relations board gathered to count the votes for Northeastern adjuncts’ union election. And the adjuncts won, a huge victory in the ongoing adjunct organizing campaigns in Boston and across the country .  

After applause and hugs, Ted Murphy, an adjunct faculty member for 8 years at Northeastern, had one word to describe his feelings about the victory: “Ecstatic.”

“It’s been a long time coming,” Murphy added.northeastern photo

The adjuncts at Northeastern are now part of a group of more than 21,000 adjunct and contingent faculty who have organized under the banner of Adjunct Action/SEIU. Today’s vote count for Northeastern University, one of the largest private universities in the U.S., is the fourth time in a month adjuncts across the nation have voted to join SEIU and to improve conditions and draw attention to higher education’s increasing reliance on contingent faculty.

Yesterday, adjuncts at Mills College in Oakland, California voted to form a union with SEIU/Adjunct Action. In late April, adjuncts at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, MD, and Howard University in Washington, D.C. voted to form a union and join SEIU Local 500.

It was a focused democracy in action as ballots were counted at the NLRB after a strong campaign by the adjunct faculty at NU, who worked tirelessly over the past several months to fight for some basic, but important changes: job security, more equitable pay, professional development opportunities, and the chance to give their students the best education they can.

The ballots are checked, the numbered ballots read off the names list. Ballots 451, 477, 146. “Is the ballot in the blue envelope?” “We’re still 45 minutes from the ballots being counted.” Quiet chatter, focused counting. Democracy in action. A group gathered around the table as the green ballots were counted in batches of 50. Yes. Yes. More yes votes.

Cal Ramsdell, an adjunct faculty member in School of Business who has taught for 15 years, watched closely as the count progressed.applause photo

“I got involved because Northeastern University’s mission is student-centered education, and adjuncts are a major part of this mission,” said Ramsdell, who served on the organizing committee. “Adjuncts are a major part of the day in day out of the university; we’re working with students, and are devoted to our work, but at the same time make a lower salary and have higher course load than full-time faculty.”

And so it went. Months of passionate conversations, meetings, emails, and advocacy distilled into piles of simple paper ballots. And in the end, the yeas had it.

Ramsdell hugged her fellow adjunct faculty when victory was announced, tears in her eyes. “At first I was afraid, and then there was just one day when I decided this was a good fight,” she said. “Sometimes there are times in life when it’s just a good fight to fight. And I put my name out there, and that was the turning point.”

Bill Shimer, an adjunct in the School of Business said the campaign started as a series of individual stories and experiences that once strung together formed a powerful narrative and a force of change.

Talking to fellow adjuncts throughout the campaign Shimer said he began to realize “that my story is their story. My concerns were their concerns, and there was a sense of a solidarity building. We grew from a nucleus into an entire community.”

Troy Neves a sophomore at NU and the campus worker justice co-chair of the Progressive Student Alliance (PSA) came to the vote count to show his support for the adjunct faculty. The PSA and other students showed strong support for NU adjuncts throughout the campaign. “It’s been amazing to see this from the beginning of the year,” Neves said. “It has been truly inspiring, and I’m really excited to continue to working with our adjuncts.”

Many of the adjuncts emphasized how the union would benefit their students and the larger educational community at Northeastern. “The better adjunct faculty are treated, the better we can serve the students,” said Abby Machson-Carter, a contingent faculty who teaches writing at NU.

“I work at a couple of different schools, and this effort is going to raise standards for adjuncts all over the city. Instructors like me are going to work with dignity and feel like we’re part of the university and that our voice matters,” Machson-Carter added.

Part-time faculty at dozens of schools are working to unite with their colleagues in SEIU, and many are scheduled to vote soon or have filed for union elections, including adjuncts at the University of the District of Columbia (DC), the San Francisco Art Institute in the Bay Area, Laguna College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, Seattle University in Washington State, Marist College in New York State and Hamline University and Macalester College in Minnesota. The Northeastern adjunct faculty join their colleagues at Tufts University and Lesley University in forming a group of 2,000 adjuncts in Boston who are unionized with SEIU/Adjunct Action.

Ramsdell emphasized the sense of community the experience of forming a union has created, for the entire university. “A stable Northeastern adjunct faculty can only strengthen Northeastern, and benefit the entire community,” she said “It’s a win-win all around.”

Northeastern adjuncts can take a survey in advance of the bargaining process here



May 9, 2014

New Oped in Boston Globe by Northeastern Adjunct Professor

May 9, 2014 | By |

A op-ed published in today’s Boston Globe entitled “Parents: The adjunct system is wasting your kids’ tuition” shines a light on the current “adjunctified” system of higher ed, just as Northeastern adjuncts are voting on forming a union.

Here’s an excerpt:

“We all have a vested interest and a personal stake in this. As a parent, your voice is critical to the future of higher education. Urge your school administrators to listen to the important issues adjunct faculty are raising. Educate your family and friends about the importance of making adjunct faculty working conditions part of the college decision process. Ask about the issue at college fairs and on campus visits. Insist your tuition dollars be spent in the classroom and demand the administration respect our freedom to choose to form a union.

Read the full story here. 



April 24, 2014

Macalester, University of St. Thomas and Hamline Contingent Faculty Unite, File for Union Election

April 24, 2014 | By |

Adjunct and contingent faculty at Macalester College, University of St. Thomas and Hamline University in St. Paul announced  that they have filed for their union election to join Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 284 as part of the national Adjunct Action campaign.

Macalester and Hamline faculty announced the filing at an event with students and Congressman Keith Ellison that capped off a student-led “Contingent Faculty Appreciation Week,” at Macalester Collge that was covered in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, University of Minnesota Daily and Minnesota Public Radio.

Adjunct and contingent faculty spoke of why they are organizing and how a union will give them a voice to improve higher education for both faculty and students.

“We’re coming together because we love our jobs. Right now, contingent faculty are vulnerable because we have no say in determining our contracts,” said SooJin Pate, an adjunct faculty at Macalster. “We believe that having a voice in the decision-making process that affects our lives will not only make us better professors, but will also strengthen the educational mission of the college, making this a better place for our students.”

Macalester students organized multiple events this week to show their support for contingent faculty and spoke at the event Thursday as to why adjunct and contingent faculty forming a union will benefit students on campus.

“The working conditions of adjunct and contingent faculty have a direct impact on my college education – when they need to go between multiple jobs to support themselves, I lose out because the majority of my Macalester experience comes from interacting with professors outside the classroom,” said Leewana Thomas, a Macalester student who joined the faculty at the press conference. “Some of my favorite professors are contingent faculty members, so of course I support their efforts to strengthen Macalester for both students and faculty.”

At the event Congressman Keith Ellison voiced his support for the students and faculty fighting to improve higher education, and shared a public letter he wrote in support of the faculty that stated his hope that Macalester administration would “take the ‘higher ground’ by committing to a position of neutrality and non-interference” with the faculty’s decision to organize.

Adjunct faculty, now the majority of teaching faculty across the country, typically have no job security, no benefits and low pay that forces adjuncts to string together jobs at multiple colleges and universities to make ends meet. At the same time, revenues and tuition have increased steadily over the last two decades while spending on instruction has declined – and it’s adjuncts and their deeply-in-debt students who are suffering as a result.



April 8, 2014

Boston City Council Unanimously Passes Resolution Supporting Good Jobs for Adjunct Instructors

April 8, 2014 | By |

Adjunct City Council Resolution

Adjunct faculty from Boston University and Northeastern University receive a Boston City Council resolution that calls for fair wages and a free and fair union elections.

On Friday, the Boston City Council unanimously passed a resolution in support of adjunct instructors, calling for colleges and universities in the Boston area to improve pay and benefits for adjunct instructors and to also allow them to unionize without interference.

“The current system for paying adjunct professors is hurting these individuals and their families

but also the classroom experience for our students,” Councilor At-Large Ayanna Pressley said. “With a mounting student loan debt crisis, families want to know what they’re getting for their money. With a compromised teaching force, I believe their dollars are not being maximized.”

The resolution is another way students, full-time professors, community leaders and elected officials are coming together to support Boston-area adjuncts as they help build a nationwide movement to improve standards for the profession by forming unions with SEIU/Adjunct Action.

Judge Isaac Borenstein (retired), Lecturer in Law, Northeastern University School of Law: “Northeastern adjunct faculty are excited about our upcoming election to join our colleagues at Tufts, Lesley and other universities across the country who are winning a voice in their work. I also appreciate that Boston City Council, along with many Northeastern students, alumni and full-time faculty, expect a ‘free and fair election’ where adjuncts alone make the decision, freely and independently, without interference from anyone.”

Higher education is a vital part of the Massachusetts economy and our state’s future. Over half a million students are pursuing a degree at Massachusetts post-secondary institutions. Colleges and universities account for a greater share of employment and payroll in Massachusetts than in almost any other state in the country and post-secondary instructors are among the fastest growing occupations in the state.



January 23, 2014

MA Senators Support Northeastern Adjuncts

January 23, 2014 | By |

It’s chilly outside as we begin a new semester at Northeastern, but our efforts to form a union are heating up and we’ve got some exciting news to share!

Take a look at these letters of support for NEU adjuncts from US Senators Elizabeth Warren, Ed Markey, and Representative Capuano.

Our democracy is rooted in the idea of an educated citizenry, but access to higher education is all but slipping away from working families and their children. Universities have shifted resources from instruction to administration funded by quickly rising tuition, resulting in record levels of student debt and unfair, unstable working conditions for the adjuncts who teach them.

Luckily, as college and university faculty caught up in this crisis in higher education, we have support from our students, parents, other teachers, and elected officials who understand that our precarious positions and low levels of job security limit our academic freedom and endanger our profession.

As adjuncts across the nation are already doing, we are building a union and joining a movement to win professional pay and  standards. Let’s work together to gain a stronger voice in the NEU community, in our future, and the future of higher education.

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