Adjunct professors at St. Michael’s College in Vermont today voted strongly in favor of forming a union with SEIU/Adjunct Action. By a margin of 64% in favor (46 yes to 26 no), the adjuncts at St. Michael’s join their colleagues at Champlain College and Burlington College, who voted overwhelmingly to form adjunct unions at their respective colleges last week.
The adjuncts at St. Michael’s join their colleagues at Champlain College and Burlington College who last week voted overwhelmingly to form adjunct unions. Taken together, the three votes represent a significant step forward for adjuncts in Vermont who are working to improve the working conditions of the increasing numbers of part-time and contingent faculty in higher education in the state and across the country.
“We join all of our colleagues around country in raising standards, in knowing each other and being able to work towards a better life for all of us,” said Sharyn Layfield, an adjunct faculty member at St. Michael’s College. “I’m 65 and started in teachings in my 20s, and for me this is a culmination of a life’s work. I’ve always been an adjunct. I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be doing this, but it means a future for other people who do what I’ve been doing all this time. It’s important to me to see this go on. It’s a movement forward.”
Throughout the campaign, adjunct faculty at St. Michael’s received an outpouring of support from Vermonters. Senator Bernie Sanders sent a letter of support to the faculty at the college, as did a number of city council members, state legislators, and the AFT/AAUP-led union representing faculty at the University of Vermont. Hundreds of students and community members signed a petition supporting the organizing efforts, which was delivered to school administrators.
“With the victory today, adjuncts at St. Michael’s can be more focused as a group, as we join together and move forward,” said Anne Tewksbury-Frye, an adjunct faculty member at St. Michael’s College and Champlain College. “The union will serve to improve best practices, and help us learn as educators and teachers in a way that will benefit our students directly. And that’s our goal — to improve education for our students at these very fine colleges and universities.”