Six other universities in the greater Pittsburgh area have contacted the United Steelworkers to help them form unions for their adjunct instructors in the past several months, according to USW representative Jeff Cech.
The USW will not release the names of the other universities Cech said.
Duquesne liberal arts adjunct instructors have been meeting with USW since March of last year to help them form a union because they said they believe the union will help them with winning a fair contract according to Cech and a press release.
Some adjunct faculty members at Duquesne are adjunct faculty at other Pittsburgh schools and Cech said they brought the idea of forming a union to their other schools. Some of these schools contacted the USW just a few months after Duquesne did, Cech said.
Last week, the liberal arts adjuncts went public with their attempts to form a union through the USW called the Adjuncts Association of the United Steelworkers.
The liberal arts adjunct instructors said they are forming a union in order to advocate for higher wages, job security, and health care insurance benefits. The adjuncts tend to teach core classes at Duquesne, and Cech noted the adjuncts’ lack job security because if their classes do not fill up, they are not guaranteed employment.
Adjunct faculty members make up 40 percent of the liberal arts instructors and can earn up to no more than $10,224 in yearly salaries while full-time assistant professors within the liberal arts make a yearly salary of $65,300.
McAnulty School of Liberal Arts Dean James Swindal said that the adjunct faculty have yet to come speak with him about the planned union, but thinks they will soon.
“I presume that they [the adjunct faculty] will come up with some kind of proposal that will impact me at some time,”Swindal. “I don’t know, I just don’t know what their path is towards that.”
Cech said although the USW has been contacted by other universities, their primary focus is still on Duquesne and helping to form their adjunct union. He said the USW wants to help the adjunct faculty find their “voice in the workplace.”
The liberal arts adjuncts approached the USW after examining other unions and options in the Pittsburgh area and ultimately chose the USW because the faculty thought the USW was the best bet in helping them as USW members work not only in steel, but law and education as well.
“The Steelworkers aren’t pushing an agenda,” Cech said.
Swindal said the most important thing about this union and the faculty is how it will affect the students.
“Part-time that are employed in the University are [here] with the mission of teaching our students,” Swindal said. “That’s what’s foremost is the students. As much as we all serve students through our teaching, the importance of anything regarding faculty ultimately is how it impacts the students.”
University of Pittsburgh media representative Patricia White said Pitt could not provide comment because there is no way to know if their adjunct faculty are planning to form a union.