Boston Globe: For Northeastern adjuncts, organizing is a no-brainer

Boston Globe | April 21, 2014

NEXT WEEK, 950 members of Northeastern University’s adjunct faculty will have the opportunity to vote to form a union, part of a national movement to improve representation of these largely unacknowledged campus mainstays. In the Boston area, adjuncts have already voted to unionize at Tufts University and Lesley College, and a similar effort is underway at Boston University. As with any vote on whether to unionize, it comes down to whether the overall condition of the workers would be enhanced or restrained by a union. This one should be a no-brainer, however: Private universities, with only a few exceptions, have treated adjuncts as a kind of migrant workforce, paying them as little as possible and offering minimal support of any other kind. Forget about job security: Adjuncts sometimes must wait until a week or two before classes begin to learn whether they’ll be teaching or not. Forget about benefits: At many universities, they’re charged to park or use the gym.

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The Justice: Academics say adjunct compensation falls short

Adjuncts across the country and throughout Boston have been unionizing due to a general lack of benefits and low wages. Although the Brandeis Fair Pay Coalition has taken an initiative in meeting with a representative from the Service Employees International Union and several adjuncts have expressed concerns about the current situation at the University, no specific plan to unionize at Brandeis could be confirmed by the Justice.

Adjuncts at the University currently receive about $6,000 per course in the Arts and Sciences, according to Prof. Bernadette Brooten (NEJS) in an email to the Justice. Senior Vice President for Communications Ellen de Graffenreid wrote in an email to the Justice that $6,000 is the minimum that adjuncts are paid per course, but that disparities can exist between adjuncts’ pay based upon areas of expertise and experience.

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