The formation of an adjuncts’ union can’t have kinks in its execution.
The Adjunct Organizing Committee is trying to create a union with bargaining rights in order to improve the working conditions and collective power of the 1,500 adjuncts teaching at Temple.
The Temple News supports the committee’s efforts. If adjuncts really were just serving an adjunctive role, no bargaining rights would be needed. However, adjuncts are only that by name. They make up just less than half the instructors at Temple. If they left tomorrow, it would become painfully clear how crucial they are to the university.
Adjuncts should no longer be treated as if they were useful – but not crucial – supplements to the faculty, as they are now.
The solution to the problem does not fall entirely on Temple, though. Its been reported that AOC only has 50 active members. On its Web site, it lists the results of a survey of adjunct professors at Temple. The results are surprising but hardly comprehensive. One hundred fifty-two, less than 10 percent of adjuncts, responded. If AOC members want their organization to be taken seriously, they must find a way to do a more thorough survey.
It’s too easy to pass off the results as the frustrating venting of a few adjuncts who saw an opportunity to express their dissatisfaction with the university’s policies and took it. The other 90 percent of adjuncts may not have nearly as many problems or complaints with the university or have no interest in organizing for bargaining rights.
If the university agrees to the AOC’s demands, it will take on greater expenses – more offices and potentially higher pay aren’t free. Exactly where that money could come from is a concern. Perhaps the university will have to restructure its priorities to focus more on instruction and instructors and less on other perks.
The reality of adjuncts today is that they are no longer adjuncts but a lower class of professors, usually – but far from always – less experienced at their craft, who are always paid less and given fewer considerations than full-time professors.
If Temple wants to commit itself to providing a strong education, it needs to make sure its educators know they are being committed to as well.