Union Event Focuses on Adjuncts' Role in Changing Their Own Working Conditions

From Inside Higher Ed:
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WASHINGTON – Hoping to reach an estimated 1 million adjunct professors nationwide, Service Employees International Union on Monday officially launched its new Adjunct Action Network website. The union marked the occasion with a “national town hall” event for adjuncts at Georgetown University here.

If a million adjuncts sounds like a lofty goal, it is. But adjuncts and organizers in attendance said they’d been encouraged by the fact that SEIU’s Adjunct Action organizing campaign is on the ground in nine cities, and that more than half the adjuncts in Washington, the campaign’s original city, have now either formed or filed for elections for unions affiliated with SEIU.

That includes Georgetown adjuncts, who won their union bid last year and are now negotiating their first contract. And after working to establish unions at individual campuses, Washington-area adjuncts are now in talks with SEIU about a city-wide union. It’s a model the union and its affiliated adjuncts would like to replicate elsewhere, including Boston, Philadelphia, Seattle and Los Angeles.

Mary Kay Henry, president of SEIU, called the website a “new way to organize in a changing world,” and to eschew some of the traditional problems adjuncts have had with organizing, such as lack of office space and a kind of commuter status. By connecting with adjuncts on their campuses and in other states through the new online forum, she said, there’s potential for adjuncts to “light up the entire country.”

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