Duquesne Adjuncts Organize with United Steelworkers

PITTSBURGH–(ENEWSPF)–March 28, 2012.  The United Steelworkers (USW) today said that members of Duquesne University’s non-tenure track faculty have formed the Adjuncts Association of the United Steelworkers to address inequitable work conditions.

Adjunct professors make up approximately 40% of the faculty in the McNulty College of Liberal Arts at Duquesne, and the number of non-tenure track faculty members has been steadily increasing. This reflects a national trend that’s resulted in a “New Faculty Majority” representing 80% of faculty members across the country. Reliance on contingent instructors has created an academic class burdened with financial, medical and professional hardship. Adjuncts are teaching the next generation of leaders in America, and they deserve respect and fair compensation for their work.

The Adjuncts Association of the United Steelworkers thinks that Duquesne is a great university. Many members are loyal, longtime employees seeking improved conditions to strengthen their students’ learning environment. Dedication to Duquesne’s students drives them to create an even better place to work and study.

Over the years many adjunct faculty members have left the university because they could not sustain themselves and their families. Often having to work several jobs to make ends meet, adjuncts are over stretched. They need time and institutional support to do research, publish and stay at the top of their fields. In order to provide the quality education Duquesne students deserve, the instructors need a fair contract that will attract and retain a talented and qualified adjunct faculty.

Duquesne’s adjunct faculty does not have access to healthcare, although students even have access to a Highmark PPO through the university. Their contracts are renewed annually, so they have no job security, no ability to plan for the future, and their employment at Duquesne can be severed without reason regardless of their performance or years of service.

After examining several unions, the Adjuncts Association at Duquesne chose to organize with the USW because they felt it was the best fit and the most capable of winning a fair contract. The USW is the largest and most diverse union in North America, and its members work in a wide array of jobs from mining and manufacturing to finance, law and education. The USW’s size gives it considerable clout at the national level, but it also has considerable local influence since its headquarters are in Pittsburgh, just down the road from Duquesne University.

Organizers started collecting union cards, and are growing membership every day.

Source: usw.org