MICA Adjunct Faculty Votes to Form a Union

From The Baltimore Sun:

Adjunct faculty members at the Maryland Institute College of Art voted to unionize this week, creating the first union representing part-time faculty members at any four-year college in the state.

The MICA adjuncts began organizing in March amid dissatisfaction with what some lecturers called shaky job security and insufficient wages. Mailed-in ballots were tallied Tuesday by a National Labor Relations Board representative at the board's Baltimore office, with witnesses from MICA's administration and the part-time faculty committee observing the process.

The vote was 163 adjuncts in favor and 75 opposed — the NLRB requires just over 50 percent for recognition. The adjuncts will be represented by SEIU Local 500.

MICA has about 340 faculty members, 190 of whom are part time.

"If we can work together, I think it's a lot easier for a collective voice to be heard, instead of a group of disconnected and disenfranchised individuals," said Joshua Smith, co-chair of the MICA part-time faculty committee. "Finding out what works best for the part-time faculty at MICA will be an interesting challenge."

Smith said the top concerns were job security — as lecturers sometimes were unsure whether they would be teaching the same class next semester — narrowing the disparity in pay between part-time faculty and tenured professors, and developing formal job expectations for employees to meet.

"We look forward to working with the union that will be representing our part-time faculty and are confident that our adjuncts will continue to join us in making their highest priority the academic and campus experiences of our students," MICA spokeswoman Jessica Weglein Goldstein said in a statement.

Nationally and in Maryland, many universities have come to rely heavily on adjunct faculty for instruction as the number of tenure and tenure-track positions declines. Increasingly, too, adjunct faculty members are joining labor unions. Smith said he hoped the union at MICA would "inspire" part-time faculty at other colleges to unionize.

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