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December 11, 2014

Adjunct Faculty Discuss Union, Future on VPR

December 11, 2014 | By |

Adjunct faculty at three colleges in Vermont, Burlington, St. Michael’s, and Champlain, voted in the past month to form a union with Adjunct Action/SEIU. Today, Genevieve Jacobs, an adjunct faculty member at Champlain College and  Sean Witters, a lecturer in the English Department at the University of Vermont, spoke to VPR about their experiences.

Click here to listen to the full interview. 

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December 1, 2014

St. Michael’s Adjuncts Vote to Form a Union

December 1, 2014 | By |

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.”

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November 24, 2014

Vermont Adjunct Faculty Vote to Form a Union

November 24, 2014 | By |

Adjunct professors at Burlington and Champlain colleges have voted overwhelmingly to join adjunct faculty at schools across the country in SEIU/Adjunct Action, with 80% at Champlain College (118 to 30) and 85% at Burlington College (23 to 4) adjunct faculty voting yes to a union. The vote was 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.

Over 40 percent of faculty at Vermont’s private, non-profit colleges and universities work part time and 72 percent of all faculty are not on the tenure track. Adjunct faculty, now the majority of teaching faculty across the country, typically have no job security, no benefits and low pay that forces adjuncts to string together jobs at multiple colleges and universities to make ends meet. At the same time, revenues and tuition have increased steadily over the last two decades while spending on instruction has declined – and it’s adjuncts and their deeply-in-debt students who are suffering as a result.

Throughout the campaign, adjunct faculty at both schools received an outpouring of support from Vermonters. Senator Bernie Sanders sent a letter of support, 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.

“Ever since we started the process of forming our union, I’ve been feeling more and more empowered. I’m already noticing that we adjuncts are talking to each other a lot more, and we have a much greater sense of collegiality. I no longer feel marginalized on campus,” said Betsy Allen-Pennebaker, who teaches at Champlain College. “I think that this victory today is a wonderful thing for adjuncts, not only in terms of pay and job security, but also in how we feel about ourselves and our profession. Throughout this election, we’ve been talking about all the positive things that will come out of having a union, and that’s what we’ll continue to focus on as we move forward. I really believe that this union is a win-win for everyone. What’s good for adjuncts will also be good for Champlain College as an institution – and improving adjuncts’ working conditions is going to create an even better classroom experience for our students.”

Vermont adjunct faculty are following in the footsteps of adjuncts at more than a dozen universities who have joined Adjunct Action in the past year, including The College of St. Rose in Albany, New York where adjuncts voted to join SEIU Local 200United this summer. They join faculty at the Howard University and Georgetown University in Washington, DC, Antioch University in Seattle and Northeastern University in Boston who have all voted for unionization in order to strengthen their voices and improving working conditions for all part-time faculty in America.

“I am thrilled by the results of the vote and I am looking forward to what is to come for Burlington College and the wider teaching community in Vermont,” said Jonathan Auyer, who teaches at Burlington College. “The campaign aimed at highlighting the need for sustainable pay, access to benefits and stable working conditions for the adjunct faculty, and this vote is one step on the path to making these things happen. I really am excited to work with the administration, my fellow adjuncts and the full-time faculty in the hopes of continuing to better Burlington College by bettering the teaching conditions, which will undoubtedly result in bettering the learning conditions for our students.”

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November 7, 2014

Vermont Adjunct News & Updates

November 7, 2014 | By |

Check out the new website of our metro organizing committee!

Vermont Edition Piece on Union Efforts

Genevieve Jacobs, an adjunct faculty member at Champlain College and  Sean Witters, a lecturer in the English Department at the University of Vermont, spoke to VPR about their experiences as adjuncts and the unionization process. Click here to listen to the full interview. 

Update: Victory at St. Michael’s

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. Read more here.

Update: Victory at Champlain and Burlington

Adjunct faculty at Burlington and Champlain colleges have voted overwhelmingly in favor of forming a union with SEIU/Adjunct Action, with 80% at Champlain College (118 to 30) and 85% at Burlington College (23 to 4) adjunct faculty voting yes to a union. Read more here.

Support from Senator Bernie Sanders

Our union organizing efforts have received the strong support of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders! In letters to adjunct faculty, he wrote, “It is not my intention to tell you how to vote in that election. That is your decision. What I will tell you, however, is that I have had the opportunity of working with thousands of Vermont  workers who are members of unions – including many who work in the field of education.  These include the full-time and adjunct faculty at UVM and the Vermont State Colleges, public school teachers – among others. These workers formed their unions to improve the conditions of their employment. What forming a union means is that you and your co-workers will have the opportunity to sit down as legal equals with management to negotiate a legally binding contract covering all aspects of your wages, benefits, and working conditions.”

Read the full letters of support here and here.

Support from United Academics

Our union organizing efforts have received the support and endorsement from the Executive Council of United Academics, the union that represents the faculty of the University of Vermont. Here’s their statement:The Executive Council of United Academics stands in solidarity with the part-time faculty of St. Michael’s College, Champlain College and Burlington College and Adjunct Action as they conduct their Union elections. We support the right of all workers, including faculty, to unionize with a union of their choice, and to bargain collectively. We call upon the Administrations of these three institutions not to interfere in any way with the election process. We call upon students and staff at these institutions to support their faculties in their drive for Union representation. We encourage faculty at these institutions to vote Union YES! Because Faculty Working Conditions are Student Learning Conditions.”

The High Cost of Adjunct Living: Vermont

The white paper “The High Cost of Adjunct Living: Vermont” has been released. In it, there’s figures detailing how being a university professor, once the quintessential middle-class job, has become a low-wage one. Read the full report here. 

Adjunct Symposium

We held our adjunct faculty symposium over the weekend, and d the excitement was palpable as we heard from colleagues here in VT and across the country about how adjuncts are fighting and winning big improvements in job security, working conditions, and student learning conditions. Here’s a picture from the event. We’re ready to Vote Yes! as ballots are mailed.

VoteYesSmall

Community Petition Delivered

Three delegations of students, faculty, alumni, and community members marched on the Presidents of St. Mike’s and Burlington Colleges and the Provost of Champlain College to present the community neutrality petition, which has received almost 650 signatures. Pictured below is the St. Michael’s delegation.

St Mikes Delegation small

Support from the City Council

City Council members Selene Colburn, Max Tracy, Vince Brennan, and Rachel Siegel wrote letters expressing their support for adjunct organizing in Vermont that were delivered to the respective college administration. In them, the city council members wrote, “We are writing to express our support for a fair and neutral process that allows … adjunct faculty members to make their decision about representation in a free and fair election that is not marred by intimidation, coercion or unnecessary legal hearings or delays.” Read the full versions here: St. Michael’s Letter;   Champlain College Letter;   Burlington College Letter

Support from VT Legislators

32 Vermont State Representatives and Senators have signed letters supporting the adjunct organizing effort in Vermont. The letters, sent to the administrators at Champlain, Burlington, and St. Michael’s colleges, state: “We support adjuncts moving towards a free and fair election, free from intimidation, coercion, and unnecessary legal hearings or delays. We believe there is no reason for the institution to use student tuition dollars or other college resources to fight the adjuncts right to organize.” Read the full letters below.

Champlain College Letter of Support

Burlington College Letter of Support

St. Michael’s Letter of Support

Support from the American Federation of Teachers

American of Federation of Teachers Vermont’s President Benjamin Johnson has sent letters in support of the ongoing Adjunct Action Vermont adjunct faculty organizing efforts to the administrations of Champlain, Burlington and St. Michael’s colleges. In the letters he says adjuncts organizing at all three schools “have a right to make this important and personal decision without fear of intimidation or coercion. AFT is deeply committed to supporting workers’ rights and standing up for fair labor standards for all working people.”  Read the full letters here: AFT Support Letter.

mquinn

By

November 7, 2014

Seven Days Article on VT Adjuncts

November 7, 2014 | By |

“Food stamps. Medicaid. Moonlighting. Despite their advanced degrees, some adjunct professors at local colleges report that these are some of the ways they make ends meet In response, a labor organizing effort is under way among part-time faculty at three private colleges.”

Check out the full article by Alicia Freese in Seven Days here. 

mquinn

By

October 3, 2014

VT Adjuncts File for Union Election

October 3, 2014 | By |

Burlington, VT – Adjunct and contingent faculty at three Vermont colleges announced they that they have filed for union elections as part of a statewide campaign and a national movement that is raising standards in higher education. Part-time instructors at Champlain, St Michael’s and Burlington Colleges believe a union will give them a stronger voice for both faculty and the students they teach.

Over 40 percent of faculty at Vermont’s private, non-profit colleges and universities work part time and 72 percent of all faculty are not on the tenure track. Adjunct faculty, now the majority of teaching faculty across the country, typically have no job security, no benefits and low pay that forces adjuncts to string together jobs at multiple colleges and universities to make ends meet. At the same time, revenues and tuition have increased steadily over the last two decades while spending on instruction has declined – and it’s adjuncts and their deeply-in-debt students who are suffering as a result.

Jeanne Lieberman teaches at Champlain College. “We love to teach, but we’re isolated and invisible in many ways on campus,” she said. “Forming a union gives us a voice in the decision-making process that affects our jobs, and our students. We are heartened to know that across Vermont, adjunct faculty are on our way to forming a union to strengthen the educational mission of our colleges and make them even better for our students.”

“It’s really exciting to see adjuncts organizing and coming together in Burlington as part of a growing labor movement in Vermont that’s on the upsurge, and we and many people across the state support them,” said James Haslam, the executive director of The Vermont Workers’ Center.

“Today is just the beginning and we are ready to build the support necessary to form our union and make our schools a better place for all faculty and students,” said Rebecca Weisman, adjunct faculty at Burlington College. “Over the next few weeks, we will to reach out to faculty here at Burlington, at Champlain, and other schools and who are ready to raise standards in higher education.”

“A union victory isn’t about a quick fix for salaries,” said Naomi Winterfalcon from Champlain College. “There are many issues that are critical for the future of higher education in Vermont and across the nation. A union is way for us to begin making changes with the support of the entire community.”

Vermont adjunct faculty are following in the footsteps of adjuncts at more than a dozen universities who have joined Adjunct Action in the past year, including The College of St. Rose in Albany, New York where adjuncts voted to join SEIU Local 200United last week. They join faculty at the Howard University and Georgetown University in Washington, DC, Antioch University in Seattle and Northeastern University in Boston who have all voted for unionization in order to strengthen their voices and improve working conditions for all part-time faculty in America.

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