AFTPA: End ‘exploitation’ of adjunct faculty

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AFT Pennsylvania convention delegates passed a resolution urging American colleges and universities to end their exploitation of adjunct, or contingent, faculty.
“While contingent faculty are among the most talented and dedicated of educators, their working conditions affect student learning conditions: Contingent faculty’s lack of access to equitable pay and benefits, lack of job security, lack of access to professional supports, and lack of access to a voice in their workplace and profession place constraints on the quality of the education they are providing,” the resolution said. 
AFT Pennsylvania, which is actively working with adjunct faculty members who want to join faculty unions at Temple University in Philadelphia and at Community College of Allegheny County in Pittsburgh, called on colleges and universities in Pennsylvania to make a “fundamental reinvestment in higher education instructional staff” and “end to the reliance on an underpaid and under supported contingent workforce.”
At its biennial convention in Philadelphia this weekend, the statewide union called for pay equity for contingent faculty, equitable access to employee benefits, access to and compensation for professional development, meaningful job security including long-term academic appointment contracts, career advancement opportunities and full inclusion in and compensation for institutional research and governance.
Community College of Allegheny County adjunct faculty members won the right to a union vote after a robust organizing campaign during the school year. Voting is currently underway at CCAC for adjunct faculty members to join the AFT Pennsylvania affiliate that already represents the appointed faculty members there.
At Temple University in Philadelphia, where 1,300 adjuncts collected enough signatures this year to demand a union election, the university is challenging the adjuncts’ right to vote at the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board.
Hundreds of thousands of people with master’s and doctorate degrees earn near-poverty wages working as adjunct professors, according to a report released from the University of California-Berkeley’s Labor Center. The report said that one in four families of part-time college faculty are enrolled in at least one public assistance program, such as food stamps, Medicaid or the Earned Income Tax Credit.
“The abuse of adjunct faculty is a national disgrace, putting well-educated college instructors on par economically with unskilled fast food workers,” said Arthur Hochner, associate professor of human resource management since 1978 in the Fox School of Business at Temple University and president of the Temple Association of University Professionals, the union representing tenured and non-tenured faculty members. “At Temple University, which received $139 million in state aid this year, the vast majority of adjunct faculty members have signed cards signaling their desire for union representation. Adjuncts bring experience, vitality and professionalism to Temple University and as one of the tenured few, I and my colleagues urge Temple’s administration to step aside and let them vote.” 
AFT Pennsylvania represents 26,000 faculty and staff at several community colleges and publicly funded and private universities; teachers and staff at public, charter and private schools and professional and technical employees of the state of Pennsylvania.