Union Strong: Why Temple Adjuncts Want a Union

In News, Philly Blog on February 26, 2015 at 2:20 pm

This open letter, signed by the Temple University Adjunct Organizing Committee, was originally posted on United Academics of Philadelphia’s website.

National Adjunct Awareness Week Rally, Temple University, February 3, 2015.

National Adjunct Awareness Week Rally, Temple University, February 3, 2015. Photo by Adam D. Zolkover. Licensed CC-BY.

The vast majority of Temple University’s adjunct professors want to have a union. Why? If we are unionized, we can negotiate the terms of our employment and have a voice in the university. Without a union, we cannot.

Right now, Temple adjuncts are at-will employees who work under semester-long appointments for $1300 per credit and without affordable healthcare benefits. We work without any guarantee of future employment regardless of how well we teach and regardless of how long we have taught here. Our classes can be canceled at any time for any reason. Often they are canceled right before the semester starts without compensation for the hours we have already worked preparing the course. Class sizes are increased without additional compensation or without providing us with teaching assistants. And though we are well-qualified, we are very rarely considered for full-time positions at Temple.

If we have a union, then we can address these issues by negotiating a contract with the administration. A fully unionized faculty would benefit the entire university, as adjuncts—who make up half of the faculty—are central to Temple’s mission of educating our students. All undergraduate students at Temple have been taught by adjunct professors and more and more often rely on their former adjunct professors for letters of recommendation and mentorship. Imagine if all of our students’ professors could afford to meet with them (and had space to meet with them) after class rather than running to another job. Imagine if all those requests for letters of recommendation could be answered because their professors were still teaching at Temple. Many do not work here for long because the job is simply unsustainable. If we truly value education, then we must value the people who teach.

At the end of last semester, we filed with the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board for an election to have a union. Adjuncts would be joining Temple Association of University Professionals (TAUP), the full-time faculty union at Temple, and United Academics of Philadelphia (UAP), the metro-wide union for adjunct faculty. We now await an election date from the PA labor board. Unfortunately, Temple’s administration is delaying the process because they don’t respect us. Provost Dai continues to send misleading and offensive emails to adjunct faculty discouraging us from unionizing. His actions show that he regards us as nothing more than cheap labor. If Temple’s administration values education, they will remain neutral and let us vote yes or no to have a union now. This is a matter of simple justice. Let us vote.


The Temple Adjunct Organizing Committee:

Ryan Eckes, English

Wende Marshall, Anthropology

Jennie Shanker, Tyler School of Art

Paul Dannenfelser, Social Work

Carrie Young, Social Work

Maggie Avener, Math

Kelli Jones, Math

J. Tucker Taylor, Economics

Linda Lee, Mosaics

Ian Davisson, Mosaics

Melissa DeGezelle, Mosaics

Rob Kesselman, Music

Aaron Levinson, Media Studies & Production

Donald Deeley, English

Carolina Maugeri, English

Elizabeth Spencer, English

Naomi Levine, Film & Media Arts

David White, Theater

Abner Rodriguez, Engineering

Martha Carey, Education

Temple Adjuncts Want a Vote

In Hub Features on February 20, 2015 at 8:56 am

by Paul Dannenfelser

Temple Adjuncts Want a Vote

Adjuncts want a voice, and they want a vote. They want an opportunity to cast their ballots to be represented by a union. An overwhelming number of adjuncts have declared their desire to have a union election. They did this by surpassing the number of signatures required by the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board on union authorization cards. They now await an agreement between Temple and the union that seeks to represent the adjuncts. The agreement will outline election procedures, procedures that Temple seems to be in no hurry to establish.

After many adjunct organizing meetings and thousands of conversations over the last two years, we have tremendous support for a union. It is time for the Temple administration to listen to its adjunct instructors. Adjuncts want their important contributions to students to be recognized. They want to be treated fairly and with respect. They want decent wages, job security and good working conditions. They don’t want the administration to delay the vote and waste valuable student resources. If the administration is truly listening to its adjuncts, then it should come to agreement with the union on a fair election process and stop wasting time and money on union-busting lawyers.

The Low Wage Workers Summit

In Events, News, Philly Blog on February 17, 2015 at 10:53 am

by Wende Marshall

The Low Wage Workers Summit

Last month, I was honored to represent UAP at the historic Low Wage Workers Summit. The summit was sponsored by $15Now, a national organization committed to making 2015 the year of the $15 minimum wage, in collaboration with Fight for $15, the organization spearheading the struggle of fast food workers here in Philly and across the country. The summit brought together low-wage workers across sectors to strategize and to dream about the just world we are working to create.

Attended by taxi drivers, fast food workers, restaurant workers, catering staff, day laborers, immigrant rights and other community organizations, and an adjunct, the summit affirmed low-wage workers’ commitment to fight for a $15 minimum wage in Philadelphia and for the right to unionize. Demanding that we “thrive, not just survive,” participants envisioned a world in which public schools are well-funded and higher education is free, as are health care and contraception. Low-wage workers said that when we are respected and valued by our employers, we can lead “radiant” lives.