Washington State Faculty Gather to Defend Higher Education
ACT | September 18, 2014
Adjuncts and Contingents Together (ACT) proudly held our first State-Wide Council meeting on Saturday, September 13, 2014 in Seattle. The purpose of the meeting was to bring together faculty from various campuses that are currently organizing with SEIU.
Our goal was to help, inform and support each other. The meeting was attended by faculty from Seattle University, Pacific Lutheran University, Gonzaga University and Antioch University Seattle.
We heard updates on what is happening at our various campuses, including a shift towards “adjunctification” and corporatization at all of our schools, and how faculty are pushing back. We started drafting a Statement of Principles as well as formulating some practical steps to foster those principles and democratize our working conditions.
We were inspired by presentations from local and out-of-town guests, including:
- Robin Sowards (Duquesne University) who spoke about how to maintain unity and power even before collective bargaining occurs (like where university administrators raise legal challenges to faculty unionization);
- Jennifer Altman (UW English Language program) who told us how UW instructors formed a union in spite of management resistance; and,
- Anne McLeer (SEIU Local 500, Washington DC) who illuminated the process and advantages of contingent faculty negotiating their labor contracts.
- Finally, Jane Harty (PLU) and Devin Kelly (SEIU Local 925) provided context for what has been happening in American Higher Education. They gave us very concrete figures that showed the extent to which universities in our state are changing to look more like hierarchical corporations fixated on profit-making and less like educational institutions focused on promoting the integrity of higher learning.
- Here is a hint of what things look like now: contingent faculty now represent anywhere between 45% and 100% of all faculty in Washington State universities; tuition has increased between 75% and 84% since 2003; and, at some campuses, the President or Chancellor earns six or seven figure salaries while adjuncts make less than $3,500 for teaching a full class. Need we say more?
We scheduled our next meeting for February 2015, with plans to further develop our Council and support one another in the interim. Send us an email ( [email protected] ) if you are interested in joining our movement, or want to speak with a friendly, fellow faculty member about how we are organizing together for ourselves, for our students and for the future of higher education.