Inside Higher Ed
November 25th, 2014
Most of the new adjunct faculty unions affiliated with Service
Employee International Union’s national Adjunct Action campaign haven’t
yet achieved contracts. Those who have negotiated collective bargaining
agreements, however, say they have better pay and working conditions as a
result. Take adjuncts at Tufts University, for instance, whose newly inked contract guarantees significant pay increases, longer-term contracts and the right to be interviewed for full-time positions.
But can adjuncts elsewhere achieve similar gains without the help of
unions – or at least not through collective bargaining? Developments on
several campuses suggest that even when adjunct union drives fail, stall
or just loom, they can still exert pressure on institutions to improve
part-time faculty working conditions.
This summer, in a relatively rare loss for SEIU, adjuncts at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota voted down a proposed union.
Critics said they attributed the outcome to unconvincing union rhetoric
and personal pleas from their new president, Julie Sullivan, to give
her a chance to improve pay and working conditions without outside