Panelists at a recent conference on labor negotiations in higher education discussed a new way of managing adjunct hiring that could improve colleges' relationship with contingent faculty, Peter Schmidt writes for the Chronicle of Higher Education.
According to the American Association of University Professors, 76% of all instructional staff appointments at U.S. colleges and universities are non-tenure-track positions. These adjunct faculty members often argue they have little job stability, inadequate pay, and limited access to basics such as office space and equipment.
One proposed solution is to create new, regionally focused entities to manage adjunct hiring and work to settle long-term issues between employers and adjuncts in their local areas. Groups like these are common among plumbers and other construction trades, Schmidt reports.
For example, the Local 500 of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has been advocating for a citywide labor agreement in Washington, D.C. since 2014, according to the Chronicle.
While some have expressed concern that rising unionization will drive up college costs, Professor Mark Cassell at Kent State University has found that core expenses fall 2% per year after unionization. Labor officials who attended the annual conference of the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions supported a labor union model for adjunct faculty, Schmidt reported.
Nicholas Anastasopoulos, a lawyer at the law firm Mirick O'Connell who serves colleges in employment negotiations, suggests that an organization like this might make it easier and less costly to hire adjuncts. However, he points out that there would be many details to work out, such as how to standardize the required qualifications for adjuncts across institutions (Schmidt, Chronicle of Higher Education, 3/28).
Four trends behind the adjunct faculty labor movement
Next in Today's Briefing
Anxiety continues to rise at already-flooded counseling centers