Please allow me to address five audiences on the topic of unionizing adjuncts:
Career Adjuncts (like myself):
I have a Ph.D., am a good teacher, and contribute significantly to ULV. But as an adjunct without a union, I am forced to teach at four schools, drive hundreds of miles each week, have inadequate health insurance, face the possibility of unemployment at any time, and accept that I will never be able to buy a house, have kids, or retire. Unionizing allows us to take a first step toward sustainable careers.
Adjuncts with other full time jobs:
I understand that you don’t teach for the pay; you just love teaching. But continuing without a union means that academic freedom is vulnerable and that higher education will quickly slide down the path of corporatization. With a union, however, higher education is not a product to be sold, but a service to enrich our students’ lives.
You rightly expect that your school will give you access to faculty with time, resources, and up-to-date expertise. Although we adjuncts try our hardest, the truth is that when we struggle to survive, work 80+ hours per week, and can’t afford to attend conferences, sometimes we cannot provide all those things. Without a union, you will not have access to the best that college can offer, but with a union, you will be able to meet with your teachers in offices, learn from your teachers’ conference experiences, and have mentoring relationships with teachers who have time to spend with you.
I know you agree that students are best served when faculty are adequately compensated and supported, and you see the exploitation of current adjuncts. A union will bring solidarity to the faculty community and move us a step closer toward equality.
Our union will increase the quality of ULV’s teaching and confirm its ethos of respect and equality. Our union will also ensure that the future of the school is not determined solely by the bottom line, but by a united community commitment to empowering students.
Whichever group you identify with, I ask you think about how our union can help the whole ULV community. I ask you to support adjuncts as we pursue safety for ourselves, quality education for students, success for the university, and integrity for higher education.
Tracy L. Hawkins
Adjunct Professor in Philosophy and Religion