Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Punished for Winning?

Inside Higher Ed
September 17th, 2014

Some colleges actively oppose union drives for their adjuncts or other faculty members, and sometimes the fights get ugly. None of that happened at Mills College last year. By all accounts, adjunct faculty members’ campaign to form a union associated with the Service Employees International Union was civil, as was the college’s response: it pledged to remain neutral, and did so.
So what’s happened since the union announced a 78 percent “yes” vote in May is puzzling to some at Mills. Various adjunct faculty union members and tenure-line professors who are not part of the bargaining unit say that recent personnel actions and program changes feel retaliatory toward adjuncts, and out of line with the college’s social justice mission. Several adjunct faculty and staff members involved in the union drive have had their workloads reduced or have been laid off, and the college recently announced that it is enforcing a longstanding but rarely followed policy of canceling classes that enroll fewer than 10 students. Adjunct faculty members and their tenure-line supporters say that’s bumped adjuncts out of their assignments at the last minute, at an institution that charges high tuition -- some $41,000 -- in exchange for unusually low student-faculty ratios: an average of 10 to 1, according to Mills.

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