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In Memphis, College President Proposes First Pay Hike for Adjuncts in 30 Years

University of Memphis adjunct faculty could be getting their first pay raise in more than three decades. Perhaps not coincidentally, the United Campus Workers, Tennessee’s Higher Education Union, has been working to organize faculty on campuses across the state. In April 2015, adjunct faculty and graduate teaching assistants at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville joined fast food and other low-wage workers at a local McDonald’s to demand that the minimum wage be raised to $15 an hour.

After rallying with their low-wage cohorts, the higher education workers boarded a freedom ride bus bound for St. Louis where they joined more low-wage workers participating in the national general strike for a minimum wage of $15 an hour.

The participating adjunct faculty and graduate teaching assistants were members of United Campus Workers (UCW), a statewide union of faculty, graduate students, and classified staff who make higher education work but are paid poverty and near-poverty wages. UCW is affiliated with the Communication Workers of America.

In 2008, InsideHigherEd reported: “For the adjuncts at the six universities and 13 community colleges governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents, the solution they came up with was to ask politely. They worked with

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