While Adjunct Activists Criticize Unified Locals, Temple U. PTers Vote to Join FT Faculty Union


Philadelphia Magazine reported on Dec. 2 that the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board “tallied secret ballots cast by adjunct faculty at Temple in an election earlier this fall, and those faculty are now represented by the Temple Association of University Professionals, the union that previously represented only full-time faculty.”

Adjuncts at Temple had protested in favor of such unionization at rallies on the school’s North Broad Street main campus and at City Hall. The college’s non-tenured faculty also took to Twitter to make the case for the school’s 1,400 part-time faculty members to join forces with the full-time faculty members.

Adjunct activists have long complained that there exists an inherent conflict of interest when part-time and full-time faculty are represented within the same union local. Last month, AdjunctNation reported that Washington State adjunct activist Keith Hoeller filed an unfair labor complaint against his own union.

Hoeller explained the reason for his complaint: “The anti-union animus complaint documents the retaliation I have faced as a result of engaging in union-protected activities such as organizing adjuncts, publicizing working conditions, filing grievances, and seeking information from my union. The interference claim may well be the first of its kind in the nation.  I claim that the college and the union have interfered with union rights by putting tenure-track faculty, who function as supervisors, into the same union.”

While East Coast adjuncts celebrate joining full-time faculty colleagues in a union, other adjuncts allege such unified locals create conflicts of interest.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, Philly Mag writer Sandy Hingston reports, “The merger between the TAUP and adjuncts, who teach part-time and are not tenured, will add some 1,400 professors to the faculty union. The final count, according to the PLRB, was 609 votes in favor of the merger and 266 votes not to unionize, with 32 ballots disqualified. All schools except for law, dentistry, medicine and podiatric medicine are affected by the change, which will allow TAUP to represent both full- and part-time faculty in negotiations with the university over pay, benefits and work rules.”

According to a piece published in Forbes, the number of part-time professors at colleges has jumped, from 30 percent in 1975 to 51 percent in 2011. While there has been debate about the exact percentage, U.S. Dept. of Education officials say that nationwide, 70 percent of all full- and part-time college faculty are now non-tenure track.

According to a survey by the American Association of University Professors, in the 2012-’13 academic year, adjunct faculty members surveyed reported median salaries of $2,700 per course.  A 2014 report by UC Berkeley researchers revealed that a quarter of part-time college faculty receive Medicaid and food stamps.

Sandy Hingston writes, “An article in Atlantic magazine that contrasted adjunct pay with that of college presidents, which has skyrocketed in recent years. When then-Penn State president Rodney Erickson retired last year, he was the nation’s highest-paid public college president, earning $1,494,603 annually. Penn State adjuncts make an estimated $20,000 per year.

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