Adjuncts Are Fighting Back Against Unfair Working Conditions


For years, adjunct professors at colleges across the country have been forced to deal with low pay and poor working conditions, but recently the discontent in the field has been growing, signaling that a change towards fairer conditions is on the horizon.

Back in April, instructors at the Maryland Institute College of Art voted to bring a labor union on board and now, adjuncts from two private colleges may be next in line.

In June, adjuncts at Marist College in Poughkeepsie will hold a vote to determine whether or not the nearly 400 instructors will unionize.

Additionally, Albany, N.Y.-based College of Saint Rose is also in the process of collecting signatures for a vote.

On average, most adjunct professors make between $2,000 and $3000 a course, and because they aren’t considered full-time, the colleges usually skirt on health insurance and paid time off.

The City University of New York pays its adjuncts $3,000 per course, while its salaried professors make over $100,000 a year.

It’s not just the pay that’s deplorable in the adjunct world, there’s also virtually no job security as teaching positions aren’t guaranteed. Meanwhile, more and more colleges are filling its classrooms with adjuncts, largely due to the cheap labor they provide.

These harsh realities are a clear indicator that change is necessary, and for many, a union is the answer.

“A union puts us on equal legal footing with the administration,” says Karen Comstock, a social psychology instructor at Marist. “Right now, we are hired semester-to-semester, and now we either accept their contracts, or we can leave. There is no negotiation. With a union, both sides have to negotiate with a good-faith effort to come up with a contract that is more satisfying.”

Photo courtesy of Joby Elliott via Flickr.