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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.

Signed,

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

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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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Wrapping Up 2014

In Events, News, Philly Blog on December 31, 2014 at 12:35 am

newyears

The United Academics of Philadelphia (UAP) officially started its work in Philadelphia on November 20th, 2013 with an event in South Philadelphia, signing up its first members.

In the past 13 months, the union has brought together a substantial, growing number of adjuncts as members, creating a peer community than we’ve never had before, one that spans all academic disciplines. Adjuncts now have a place to talk to colleagues, seek resources and support, and share expertise. Contingent voices are speaking and are being heard. UAP members have presented at a national education conference and have been submitting stories, essays, artwork, and more here on the UAP blog. Anna Neighbor, a Philadelphia artist, adjunct, and union activist, went to the White House’s Summit on Working Families to discuss how current labor practices affect families.There are social events and regular union meetings held in the UAP’s Brewerytown office, and there have been two day-long public forums with speakers, panels and workshops to discuss issues. Read the rest of this entry »

Recap of the Fall Adjunct Forum

In Events, News, Philly Blog on October 30, 2014 at 8:00 am
Adjunct forum

Karen Schemerhorn tells the story of the founding of Community College of Philadelphia’s adjunct union. In the audience: New Faculty Majority President Maria Maisto, and UAP members Jessica Clark, David Chatfield, Ryan Eckes and Paul Dannenfelser

The UAP Fall Adjunct Forum was a great success, with adjuncts from across Philadelphia coming together to discuss issues, share stories, and envision a path forward.

Here’s a recap of many of the great moments that occurred throughout the day.

 

Joe Hoeffel, Why I Need a Union

In Philly Blog on October 26, 2014 at 11:13 pm

Joe Hoeffel, Why I Need a Union.

Hoefel

New UAP Site for the Temple Campaign

In Philly Blog on October 20, 2014 at 8:30 am

we want a union at temple

The United Academics of Philadelphia has recently gone public with the adjunct faculty’s effort to form a union at Temple University.  This site is full of information serves as a great resource for Temple adjuncts throughout the campaign. Take a look!

 

Investing in Our Students

In Philly Blog on September 24, 2014 at 8:00 am

Antony Gormley, Field for the British Isles, 1993

 

by Sam Allingham

Imagine you’re a college freshman at Temple University. You arrive on campus in late August, say goodbye to your parents, learn to tolerate your roommate, endure the rush of orientation, and before you can consider the astronomical amount of money you’ve spent on books, classes start. You discover that many, if not most, of your classes are taught in large lecture halls. The TA’s in your discussion sections are there to answer questions, but you get the sense that everyone is a little too busy to take much interest in you. You often have to remind people – your professors, your TA’s, even your advisor – of your name.

But one class is different: a required composition class. You weren’t looking forward to this class when you signed up for it, but the syllabus is all about the city of Philadelphia, which you’re interested in – it’s one of the reasons you came to Temple – and the professor, a woman named Hannah, seems excited about teaching. Hannah learns your name by the first week and goes out of her way to make class engaging. One day you form groups to dream up your ideal street. Another day you debate the purpose of public art: who should create it, where should it go, who should pay for it?

Halfway through the semester, you meet with Hannah during class time to discuss your writing. You’re nervous – you were never a very good writer in high school – but she’s patient, encouraging you to support and expand your ideas, outlining ways you can improve. Read the rest of this entry »

Contingency: The Open Secret of Higher Ed

In Philly Blog on September 16, 2014 at 7:09 pm

Highered_infographic

The Higher Ed division of the American Federation of Teachers has new site that includes a section with important information that they  have compiled on adjuncts in academia. It’s a great resource to bookmark and share

Temple University Needs an Adjunct Union

In Events, News, Philly Blog on September 15, 2014 at 8:00 am

logo

By Paul Dannenfelser, Ryan Eckes and Jennie Shanker

Adjunct professors have been organizing across the Philadelphia region for over a year, with the support of the American Federation of Teachers, building the United Academics of Philadelphia. Collectively, we’ve had thousands of conversations with faculty across the region, and our membership has increased dramatically since the end of the Spring semester. Our efforts most recently have focused on Temple University.

Today we are launching a card drive at Temple University to authorize an election to form a collective bargaining unit of adjunct faculty. It’s clear we have overwhelming support for this union at Temple.

As part of the Temple University family, we have many reasons to be proud, but unfortunately the rewards are few for the important work we do. The last minute re-appointments and class cancellations, the seemingly random changes in enrollment minimums, the lack of decent compensation, security and benefits for people who have served Temple’s students year after year are some of the issues that we can address only by forming a union. Representing half of the faculty, our union will benefit the entire university community. Our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions.

Senator Barney Frank once famously said “If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.” We need representation just as the university’s graduate students and full-time faculty have. Our issues need to be heard, and we need to negotiate with the administration. We are forming this union to have a place at the table. Join us.

 

 

Adjuncting Over Time

In Philly Blog on August 20, 2014 at 2:10 pm

Post by Elizabeth Spencer

This fall I will return to the classroom after a year’s break. During this year, students continued to contact me, no doubt assuming that I continued to hold positions in the two universities I worked at. They asked what I was teaching in the spring, or for me to write them recommendation letters to different graduate schools or even serve as a reference for a potential employer.

“Please forgive my delay in responding,” I’d write them, “I’m on maternity leave this semester. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.” And then I did. In between feedings and diaper changes, in a haze of sleep deprivation, I wrote recommendations for employers, study abroad programs, and graduate schools.

Of course, you know—or maybe you don’t; my students did not, and they are in many ways very familiar with the ins and outs of higher education, though not of employment prospects in many cases (either theirs or mine)—there are no sabbaticals and no paid or unpaid official absences for adjuncts.

In the final weeks of my pregnancy I didn’t know how long I would be away from my job. It’s not dissimilar to the position all adjuncts are in at the end of every semester as they wait for an email inviting them back. Read the rest of this entry »