Dear Colleagues, Students and Friends,
We are requesting your support for a group of professors at Mills College who are now speaking with a collective voice: contingent faculty. Across the US, educators, workers and activists have tracked disturbing trends in employment and faculty treatment in the increasingly corporatized university. Our shared interests--as well as those of our students, future professors and their students--demand greater solidarity and collective struggle to increase equity and bring about significant changes regarding how faculty are treated.
Mills College relies upon a large group of highly-qualified contingent faculty who comprise over 64% of the college's total faculty and teach approximately half of all courses. We receive widely disparate job titles, contracts, employment requirements and expectations. We have no clear program for advancement or long-term job security, despite the fact that some of us have been teaching at Mills for over a decade. As adjuncts, we can regularly expect to be unemployed every summer as well as during the crucial four-week period over the winter holidays. Despite excellent qualifications and experience, we have no job security, are paid a fraction of what tenured and tenure-track faculty earn, even when teaching the same courses, have reduced access to professional activities, and are disenfranchised from full participation in faculty governance (imagine, a majority of faculty unable to fully participate in faculty governance!). It is hard to plan one's life and career year to year without a clear expectation, much less guarantee of, continued employment, decent pay, benefits, access to campus resources and professional growth.
Perhaps most importantly, we remain an unprotected class of employees. Without union representation, we are often at the mercy of our employers, with little redress for unfair treatment, contract negotiations, or governance issues. Along with our colleagues on other campuses across the country, we are organizing here at Mills to unionize and work in solidarity with tenured and tenure-track faculty, staff and students in a collaborative effort to bring the college's day-to-day operations in line with its commitment to social justice and equality.
Contingent faculty across the US are uniting to systematically raise standards of employment and to uphold the central importance of teaching and teachers in our institutions. Locally, SEIU is leading a Bay Area drive at several regional universities. We see the concrete results that unionization has brought for adjuncts at Montgomery College, American University, George Washington University and elsewhere, from pay raises to basic job security provisions and more. Here at Mills College, we stand together with SEIU in the campaign to organize adjunct faculty in the Bay Area. We aim to unite in the campaign to unionize, use our collective strength to assert our basic rights, and work toward improved conditions for all.