Supporters recently made strides in the fight to gain union representation for roughly 1,300 part-time faculty members at Temple.
The Adjunct Organizing Committee’s collection of signature cards from part-time faculty members began with a two-day kickoff drive the end of last month.
These cards would authorize the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board to hold an election to incorporate adjuncts into the Temple Association of University Professionals union. TAUP, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, has supported the AOC through its struggle for union representation.
Last semester, the AOC declared the week of Nov. 20 the first Adjunct Awareness Week and members stood at the Bell Tower to spread the message that nearly 50 percent of Temple’s faculty had no means of collective bargaining or otherwise ensuring fair treatment.
The AOC’s goals are to gain some predictability in course assignments, a prescribed path for promotion based on performance and equal pay and benefits for equal work.
They then surveyed between 1,300 and 1,400 adjunct faculty about their current work conditions and to find out whether the adjuncts felt they needed representation.
“The responses have been overwhelmingly positive toward forming a union,” Regina Bannan, an adjunct American studies professor, said.
Because of this positive reaction, the AOC decided to hold its kickoff drive with members handing out authorization cards in various buildings. The drive continues as adjuncts receive the cards in the mail or online. Adjuncts can also contact the TAUP office or any member of the AOC.
The PLRB, which was formed by the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Act of 1937, requires that the AOC collects authorization cards from at least 30 percent of those eligible for representation sign.
“The AOC wants to have more than that number so that when an election is ordered, we can be confident of winning union representation for adjuncts,” Bannan said.
Once the PLRB receives the signatures, the Labor Board must determine if they are valid by checking them against a list of eligible employees. The employer submits the list of eligible employees to the PLRB.
“It is impossible to say how long this process will take. It can take from weeks to months,” Bannan said.
The PLRB will govern the election according to their procedures. The secret ballot election can be submitted in person or through the mail.
“We are confident that if given the chance to vote, adjuncts will choose to be represented for collective bargaining by TAUP,” Bannan said.
Not all adjuncts support unionization for varying reasons. Among these adjuncts are those who feel they can better negotiate their contracts on their own.
“Some are hobby teaching at the end of their career [and don’t feel the need for more money or job security]. Some may be ideologically opposed,” Ralph Flood, an American studies professor and AOC organizer, explained.
Adjuncts may also be against union representation because it would make dealing with individual problems more difficult, Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs Nelia Viveiros said.
“When you have a union, that’s the only avenue, and there’s a lot less flexibility in individual situations,” Viveiros said.
Viveiros was recently appointed to the position that makes her responsible for the administration of all non-tenure track faculty and adjuncts.
“If there are issues [with the adjuncts], I’m the go-to person,” Viveiros said.
The creation of this post is not a reaction to the AOC’s efforts, Senior Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Faculty Affairs Diane Maleson said.
Maleson said the restructuring of the Office of the Provost has made it a “central place to get information pertaining to all faculty.”
Rosella Eleanor LaFevre can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.