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President Obama’s Community College Proposal: Big Step for Students and Highlights Faculty Needs

President Obama’s Community College Proposal: Big Step for Students and Highlights Faculty Needs On January 20, during his State of the Union speech to Congress and all Americans, President Obama boldly declared America’s community colleges are a gateway for the middle class.

Students who want to get ahead are drowning in debt before they can even gain a footing in our economy, so President Obama’s community college proposal to Congress comes at a pivotal time. America’s College Promise proposal would make two years of community college “free for responsible students, letting students earn the first half of a bachelor’s degree and earn skills needed in the workforce at no cost.”

SEIU members believe we need more funding for community colleges as the best source for high value education – in contrast to for-profit colleges that waste billions of public dollars while leaving students with huge bills and little or no education. Following the State of the Union address SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry said in a statement that, “Families should have a fair shot to build a successful future through free community college, student debt relief, and investments in pre-K, primary and secondary education.” Read More

Adjunct Faculty at Washington University in St. Louis Form Union

Adjunct Faculty at Washington University in St. Louis Form Union Adjunct professors at Washington University in St. Louis have voted to join adjunct faculty at schools across the country in SEIU/Adjunct Action. Over 400 faculty members won their union today as ballots were counted at the National Labor Relations Board office in St. Louis. The victory is the first in St. Louis and a step forward to improve the working conditions of the increasing numbers of part-time and contingent faculty in higher education.

Forty-four percent of faculty in St. Louis area private, non-profit colleges and universities work part time and 73 percent of all faculty are not on the tenure track. Adjunct faculty, now the majority of teaching faculty across the country, typically have no job security, no benefits and low pay that forces adjuncts to string together jobs at multiple colleges and universities to make ends meet. At the same time, revenues and tuition have increased steadily over the last two decades while spending on instruction has declined – and it’s adjuncts and their deeply-in-debt students who are suffering as a result. Read More

California faculty from three campuses vote to join SEIU

Adjunct organizing finished 2014 on a high note in California, as more than 900 adjuncts voted to join SEIU at three campuses right before the new year. On Dec. 29, roughly 400 contingent faculty at St. Mary’s College in Moraga and almost 300 at Dominican University in San Rafael voted with sizable majorities to join Local 1021. The following day, faculty members at Otis College of Art and Design voted for their union, making approximately 250 instructors the newest members of SEIU Local 721. “This is an exciting day for the entire Otis community,” said instructor Andrea Bowers. “By forming a union at Otis, we’ll have the ability to advocate for students and our colleagues. We will all benefit from a supported and empowered faculty at all levels, and Otis will be able to maintain its standards of artistic and educational excellence.”

Read more about the growing movement for education and economic justice in the Los Angeles Times .

Washington State Contingent Faculty Applaud Far-Reaching NLRB Ruling that Expands Union Rights for Faculty Nationwide

In a groundbreaking decision with national implications , the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled on Friday that contingent faculty at Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) can form a union with SEIU Local 925. NLRB logo

The ruling comes months after the university’s administration cited Lutheran religious affiliation under the 1979 Supreme Court case Catholic Bishop as a reason to impound union election ballots and thwart faculty efforts to unionize. The administration also claimed that full-time contingent faculty were managerial employees under the 1980 Supreme Court decision Yeshiva and could not unionize. The Board agreed with PLU contingent faculty that they can organize, and in deciding the questions of religious exemption and managerial status, the Board established new tests for examining the role of faculty at universities.

Under the new tests, faculty must carry out a religious function to be denied the right to collective bargaining, not merely teach at a religiously-affiliated college; and, must exercise effective managerial control to be considered management employees. Read More

Adjunct Faculty Discuss Union, Future on Vermont Public Radio

Vermont Public Radio interview Adjunct faculty at three colleges in Vermont, Burlington, St. Michael’s, and Champlain, voted in the past month to form a union with Adjunct Action/SEIU. Today, Genevieve Jacobs, an adjunct faculty member at Champlain College and  Sean Witters, a lecturer in the English Department at the University of Vermont, spoke to Vermont Public Radio about their experiences.

Click here to listen to the full interview.