Adjunct faculty joined SEIU president Mary Kay Henry and House Education and Workforce Committee Ranking Member George Miller (D-CA) to launch the Adjunct Action Network and talk about the future of adjunct faculty organizing at a town hall at Georgetown University today.
“Imagine if brick-by-brick adjuncts work to build a new model,” Henry said as she led a discussion about how the growing adjunct organizing victories from Los Angeles to Boston can be leveraged into even larger movement both online and offline.
Though adjunct faculty often lack physical meeting space on the campuses where they work, adjuncts have formed a virtual network that crosses cities and campuses. The Adjunct Action Network’s toolset, which gives users the ability to create petitions, host events, build email lists and create online discussion groups, is designed to elevate those connections to concerted action. Click here to sign up to the network and watch a recorded version of the town hall.
Adjunct faculty in attendance described how collective action by contingent faculty has given them a larger voice in the fight to roll back the corporatization of higher education and refocus it on education and students. “I think we can really rumble and quake the higher education ground,” said Tiffany Kraft, an adjunct from Clark College who spoke on the panel at the town hall. “We are not passive victims in our marginalization,” she added.
“There’s plenty of money in higher education. It’s just not being directed at front-line teaching,” Henry noted.
Rep. Miller said the growing influence of adjunct faculty is altering the power calculus in politics and higher education back towards students and instruction, and urged adjuncts to continue to organize and engage. “Bring your lunch,” and stay for the fight, he said to applause.
The town hall comes as adjuncts continue to organize across the country. In late February, adjunct faculty at Lesley University in Boston voted overwhelmingly to form a union. In the last few months adjuncts at Seattle University in Washington state, Howard University in DC, Maryland Institute College of Art, and Northeastern University in Boston have filed election petitions with the National Labor Relations Board to hold union elections.
Tufts University part-time faculty voted to join SEIU in September 2013 and are currently bargaining their first contract, and in December, adjunct faculty at Whittier College in Los Angeles voted to form a union.
For a compilation of live reaction to the town hall, follow #AdjunctNetwork.
This article was originally printed on SEIU on March 24, 2014. Reprinted with permission.
Author: Mariah Quinn