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08 Apr

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Professors in Poverty: New Report

April 8, 2015 | By |

Research by the University of California, Berkeley’s Labor Center and SEIU has found that poverty amongst faculty is often higher than Americans.  The research shows that part-time faculty are more likely to be in poverty than the average Americans, ranging from 9% in Nevada to 43% in Maine. All total, 22% of part-time faculty live below the poverty line, while 14.5% of Americans live in poverty (2013).

For the full data visit Faculty Forward. Also check out an NBC report on the figures here

02 Mar

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Bentley Adjunct Faculty Vote to Form a Union

March 2, 2015 | By |

Adjunct faculty at Bentley University overwhelmingly voted “Union Yes” today, casting their ballots to joinFaculty Forward – a project of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 509. The vote
marks the third faculty union victory in as many weeks, with nearly 3,000 Boston-area educators now joined in a shared effort to improve their profession and the overall quality of higher education through unionization

“This is a major victory, not only for Bentley adjuncts, but for the university and its students,” said Robert Hannigan, who has taught history at Bentley University for more than 30 years. “We now have a real chance not only to improve working conditions for adjuncts, but – in the process – to create an inclusive atmosphere that will enhance the university’s overall educational value.”

With today’s two-to-one vote, more than 220 adjunct professors at Bentley join adjunct colleagues at Boston University, Northeastern and Lesley in forming unions through SEIU Local 509. In October, part-time lecturers at Tufts signed their first union contract – making significant gains around compensation, working conditions and educators’ role in decision-making. Contingent faculty on the Lesley and Northeastern campuses also began contract negotiations in recent months.

“When we began our union effort in the spring of 2013, we felt it was important for adjuncts at Bentley to join together in order to have a collective voice,” said Joan Atlas, an adjunct lecturer in English and Media Studies who represents adjuncts in the Bentley Faculty Senate.  “Through our union, we’ve gained the ability to make real headway in improving adjuncts’ working conditions – and our students’ learning conditions – on campus.”

Greater Boston’s contingent faculty form the core of a robust, nationwide movement to address the crisis in higher education – where the role of educators is increasingly low-wage and marginalized, despite tuition increases and growing endowments. The groundbreaking effort seeks to reinvest in the classroom, raise standards and improve stability through the Faculty Forward and Adjunct Action initiatives.

The Bentley adjunct faculty vote was conducted by mail, with ballots tabulated at the National Labor Relations Board office in Boston. Three-quarters of eligible faculty members participated in the election.

25 Feb

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Nationwide Day of Collective Action to Raise Standards in Higher Education

February 25, 2015 | By |

Today, students and part-time instructors across the country are coming together in a dramatic show of unity for fair pay and better working conditions in a nationwide day of action. Major faculty and student walkouts or protests are taking place across the country, including Seattle University in Seattle, San Francisco Art Institute in San Francisco, and the University of Arizona in Tucson. SEIU-supported and allied activist events are also occurring in California, Ohio, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New York, Missouri, Florida, and Georgia.

Nationally, over 65 percent of all college faculty nationwide are off the tenure track. Seattle University students and faculty will unite in a large rally and walkout on Wednesday. “I am walking out for adjunct job security, a living wage, and transparency in where our student’s tuition dollars are being spent,” said Dr. Larry Cushnie, Adjunct Instructor of Political Science. “Student instruction must remain the main priority of the university. With a majority of instructors now part-time and non-tenure track, it is important that people know what massive student debt is really paying for in higher education.”

Once a middle class job, 45 percent of college and university faculty are now working part-time often for very low pay, isolated from colleagues without job security, benefits or even office space. When National Adjunct Walkout Day started online, the idea spread to include many forms of collective action to build awareness of adjunct faculty pay and working conditions.


At the University of Arizona, faculty and students will hold a mid-day event and march to UA President Ann Weaver Hart’s office who recently received a $40,000 bonus. Sean Rys teaches in the English Department at the University of Arizona. He said, “Adjuncts and Lecturers at the University of Arizona often work directly with underrepresented populations and foster strong personal relationships that increase student retention numbers while also humanizing the classroom as an ideational space. Through our action on February 25th, we hope to illustrate that non-tenure track faculty are not, as the ‘adjunct’ label suggests, subordinate or auxiliary workers. Rather, if current trends hold true, the future of higher education passes headlong through a growing front line of contingent knowledge workers.”


While many adjuncts are walking out of class, others are marking the day with powerful expressions of solidarity. Basak Durgun is a PhD student and teaches at George Mason University in the Washington, DC area. She said, “We are holding a teach-in at George Mason University Fairfax campus to reach out to our colleagues and educate the larger George Mason community about adjunct working conditions and their effects on student learning and community well being. We invest significant time, energy and money and sacrifice quite a bit from our personal lives to be in these classrooms. Teaching at a university and doing research that will have some social justice impact is all I wanted to do since I was a freshman in college. Essentially, I am fighting to get the only thing we ever wanted: dignity.”

The dramatic shift away from investment in educators and affordable, accessible higher education for students has been accompanied by a move toward a big-business model that affects all of us. Students are increasingly saddled with crushing debt that could take a lifetime to get out from under. Parents are struggling to stay afloat in the face of skyrocketing tuition bills. At the same time, for-profit colleges and universities continue to prey on low-income students, delivering poor quality at outrageously high costs that have fueled the growing student debt crisis.

The crisis in higher education is not a school by school issue. It is a national issue. Join the campaign.

18 Feb

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National Adjunct Walkout Day Action Ideas

February 18, 2015 | By |

A Day Without Adjuncts: On February 25th, this powerful idea will become a reality as faculty across the country band together to demand fair wages and better working conditions. While some adjuncts will walk off the job, National Adjunct Walkout Day can also be marked with other powerful expressions of solidarity.

Here are some ideas for action. Many of them involve sharing on social media and we’d love to hear what you’ve come up with. Click here to tweet about what you’re doing for #NAWD and post to our Facebook as well.

  • Create a lesson plan on adjunct working conditions and the corporatization of higher education. Check out our resources.
  • Research your school to answer questions like: How many adjuncts does the school employ? How much does the president make? Create a fact sheet or share your findings on facebook and twitter. We have resources here.
  • Create a balance sheet that shows your adjunct salary and expenses and a deficit in red and share with students or post to facebook and twitter.
  • Hold public office hours or grade-ins in student union buildings, libraries, parking lots,  or hallways for example and tweet or post photos.
  • Calculate when you will pay off your debt on your current salary and create a visual with that date (a sign, a tweet, a facebook post).
  • Make a list of major life decisions that have been put off (having children, buying a house, vacation etc.) and share.
  • Create and share maps with geotagged photos of the numerous places you’ve worked that week/month including campuses, offices, home, coffee shop, car, etc. to highlight lack of office space and resources.
Want more creative ideas to mark #NAWD? Check out a list of organizations and ideas here.

13 Feb

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Tufts Full Time Faculty Vote to Form a Union

February 13, 2015 | By |

Full-time faculty at Tufts University voted to form a union with SEIU Local 509 yesterday. They join their part-time colleagues at Tufts who voted to form a union last year. 

“We’re hoping to have job security, better pay, and more of a voice, and the union, because of collective bargaining, gives us a strong voice,” said Claire Schub, a French literature lecturer who has taught at Tufts as a full-time, nontenure-track professor for 22 years.

Read more in The Boston Globe and The Tufts Daily

09 Feb

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Inside Higher Ed Article on “Bold” New Campaign

February 9, 2015 | By |

“Most observers agree that adjunct instructors deserve better pay, but what about $15,000 per course? The Service Employees International Union shocked even some adjunct activists last week when it announced that figure as a centerpiece of its new faculty advocacy campaign. But while union leaders admit the number is bold, those involved in the campaign say adjuncts might as well aim big, since they have little to lose. They also say they hope the $15,000 figure will force a national conversation about just how colleges spend their money, if not on middle-class salaries for instructors.”

Read the full article here on Inside Higher Ed.

04 Feb

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Boston University Adjuncts Vote Yes to Union

February 4, 2015 | By |

Boston University Adjunct Faculty Vote “Union Yes” by a 2-to1 Margin

More than 2,600 Boston-area educators now united through FacultyForward/SEIU

Boston University adjunct professors voted to form their union by an overwhelming 2-to-1 margin today, casting ballots to joinFaculty Forward – a project of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 509. The vote represents a significant victory for non-tenure-track faculty throughout the Greater Boston area, with more than 2,600 educators now engaged in a shared effort to improve their profession and the overall quality of higher education through unionization.

“We started with a simple premise: If excellence in learning is the core mission of our university, then we need real investment in the classroom – in the equitable, sustainable treatment of all educators,” said Laurie LaPorte, a lecturer in Anthropology at the College of Arts & Sciences. “Today, with the support of our students, colleagues and community allies, we’ve taken a major step toward improving the learning experience at Boston University. Together we are stronger.”

With today’s vote, more than 750 Boston University adjuncts join a robust, nationwide movement to address the crisis in higher education – where educators’ jobs are increasingly low-wage and part-time despite tuition increases and growing endowments. The groundbreaking effort seeks to reinvest in the classroom, raise standards and improve stability through the Faculty Forward and Adjunct Action initiatives.

In Massachusetts, part-time faculty at Tufts University recently signed their first union contract, marking significant gains around compensation, working conditions and educators’ role in decision-making. Contingent faculty on the Lesley and Northeastern campuses also began contract negotiations in recent months, and union votes are scheduled among Bentley University adjuncts and Tufts full-time faculty in the coming weeks.

“BU adjuncts have made a clear decision, overwhelmingly choosing unionization as the best way to make our university a better place to teach and to learn,” said Dan Hunter, an English lecturer in the College of Arts & Sciences. “I am proud to be part of a national movement working for better pay, improved stability and a real voice in the decisions that impact educators and our students.”

The Boston University faculty election was conducted by mail, with ballots counted at the National Labor Relations Board regional office in Boston.

03 Feb

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ECMC Agrees to $480 Million in Debt Relief in Corinthians Sale

February 3, 2015 | By |

On February, 4 the Department of Education and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced $480 million in debt forgiveness for current and former Corinthian Colleges Inc. students as part of the sale of 50 Corinthian campuses to Educational Credit Management Corporation (ECMC).

It’s a victory for Corinthian students and shows the value of standing together for quality education.

In June, Corinthian Colleges Inc. was put on heightened financial oversight by the Dept. of Education and agreed to sell or close all of its campuses.  Since the announcement of the sale, SEIU members, along with coalition partners, have advocated that federal regulators provide debt relief for students who have been harmed by Corinthian’s practices.

As part of this effort SEIU launched CorinthianShutdown.org in September and collected over 2,000 signatures from current and former Corinthian students. Thousands more signed a petition demanding that Corinthian students deserved a full refund. On December 17, 2014 SEIU members participated in a “Day of Action” to oppose the sale of Corinthian to ECMC. As part of that day SEIU Local 284 members organized an action to deliver our petition to ECMC headquarters in Oakdale, MN.

But ECMC isn’t off the hook. Companies like Corinthian shouldn’t be allowed to take advantage of American students and prioritize their own profit over student success.

As the deal precedes we will closely monitor the actions of ECMC in order endure it abides by the extensive promises the company has made.

We are committed to holding all for-profit colleges accountable. Make sure to check out a new website SellingOutStudents.org, where you can tell the Department of Education to hold For-Profit Colleges accountable and not to sell out students!

29 Jan

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Take on Phoenix: #StudentsNotStadiums

January 29, 2015 | By |

With the Super Bowl coming up we thought we’d share some not so super facts about the University of Phoenix: 

  • Each year, the number of dropouts from the University of Phoenix could fill more than five Super Bowl XLIX stadiums. These students are left with crippling student loan debt and no credentials to show for it. 
  • Students who have defaulted on their loans after leaving the University of Phoenix between 2009 and 2011 could fill more than two Super Bowl XLIX stadiums.
  • With the money spent on naming rights to the Cardinals’ stadium and annual marketing and recruiting costs, the University of Phoenix could purchase all 
  • Each Super Bowl XLIX quarter, student debt for University of Phoenix graduates will increase by $540,000. $2.5 million in student debt will have amassed by the end of the game.*

What to do? Take them on by demanding that for-profit students get the education they deserve from University of Phoenix and other for-profit schools. Visit sellingoutstudents.org and sign the petition now. 

*Want more? Click here for more facts and sourcing.

20 Jan

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President Obama’s Community College Proposal: Big Step for Students and Highlights Faculty Needs

January 20, 2015 | By |

On January 20, during his State of the Union speech to Congress and all Americans, President Obama boldly declared America’s community colleges are a gateway for the middle class.

Students who want to get ahead are drowning in debt before they can even gain a footing in our economy, so President Obama’s community college proposal to Congress comes at a pivotal time. America’s College Promise proposal would make two years of community college “free for responsible students, letting students earn the first half of a bachelor’s degree and earn skills needed in the workforce at no cost.

SEIU members believe we need more funding for community colleges as the best source for high value education – in contrast to for-profit colleges that waste billions of public dollars while leaving students with huge bills and little or no education. Following the State of the Union address SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry said in a statement that, “Families should have a fair shot to build a successful future through free community college, student debt relief, and investments in pre-K, primary and secondary education.”

Access to affordable education will build more opportunities for success for our students and create an academic environment where our teachers can focus on student needs with increased stability.

There are over 300,000 teaching faculty at community colleges; 61 percent are part time and 80 percent are not on the tenure track. Dave Pollak teaches at the Lakes Region Community College in Laconia, New Hampshire. He said, “The President’s proposal recognizes that the affordability of the nation’s community colleges is critical to access a high value education and workforce development on which our economy depends. I support the President’s plan which, I believe, will also draw some attention to faculty workplace issues such as low pay, growing job insecurity and a lack of resources to help students reach their full potential. Our work environment is a student’s learning environment. Faculty are committed to continually making improvements that will lead to more student success.”

Community colleges are by far the most affordable and accessible higher education institutions, even as in-state tuition costs have gone up 59 percent in the last 10 years. They allow students to combine high-quality education programs with the ability to remain in their communities. SEIU members believe the President’s commitment to invest in community colleges would be a big step toward improving student opportunities and increasing stability for a largely contingent faculty workforce.

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