Adjunct professors from colleges and universities across the Bay Area came together at the Clark Kerr Center at UC Berkeley on Saturday, March 22, for the first-ever Bay Area Symposium on Contingent Academic Labor. The theme of the symposium was The New Corporate Model and How Adjuncts Are Organizing to Minimize Its Impact on Students, Faculty, and the Value of Higher Education.
Participants heard from six remarkable speakers with long experience both teaching as adjuncts and organizing adjuncts to improve working conditions for instructors and learning conditions for students. Joe Berry, the author of Reclaiming the Ivory Tower; Anne McLeer, Director of Higher Education and Strategic Research at SEIU Local 500; Gary Rhoades, Director of the University of Arizona's Center for the Study of Higher Education; Robin Sowards, President of the Adjunct Faculty Association of the United Steelworkers and Vice President of the New Faculty Majority; Lillian Taiz, President of the California Faculty Association; and Helena Worthen, longtime labor educator at the University of Illinois and adjunct organizer, all spoke eloquently and compellingly not only on the conditions adjunct professors work under, but on what strategies are successful for organizing and what can be gained for adjuncts and for students.
After lunch, participants discussed the problems and solutions during a breakout session.
The goal for the symposium is not only to empower individuals to work on making change within their own institutions, but also to start building a network of adjuncts across schools and across the Bay Area to support each other and work together on organizing and bringing about positive changes.
If you weren't able to make it to the symposium, please make sure you sign up to get updates on what's happening here in the Bay so that you can join the network and get involved!