by Love and Rage Team / NY – Labor

PITTSFORD, NY – A total of 54 adjunct professors at Nazareth College, a private, religious institution in the Rochester suburbs, have announced their decision to go forward with forming a union for all non-tenure track faculty.

Spurred by successes elsewhere in the country, as well as other colleges in Upstate New York such as Ithaca College and the College of Saint Rose, the path to unionization began last semester. Also in the fall, adjuncts at Herkimer County Community College voted to unionize.

The 54 adjuncts released the following statement via SEIU’s website:

Dear Colleagues,

Since last semester, Nazareth Faculty Forward has been meeting and organizing to form a union for all non-tenure track faculty. Today, we invite you to join us, so that we may move forward together in a way that reflects Nazareth College’s values.

Because we love teaching at Nazareth, we are coming together to ensure that our school upholds its social justice mission through promoting equitable working conditions for Nazareth faculty. In particular, we are working to ensure improvements to our compensation, benefits, and job security.

Contingent faculty currently make up 66% percent of all faculty at Nazareth. This model affects our working conditions and creates an obstacle to providing the high quality education that our students deserve. For contingent faculty, Nazareth’s flexible hiring practices have led to unstable and inconsistent employment, a lack of benefits, and financial insecurity. As a result, we have less time to prepare our courses, less time and fewer resources to focus on students’ needs, and we’re prevented from playing a stronger role in our departments.

Through its history, educational offerings, and community engagement, Nazareth College promotes principles of equity and social justice, including the dignity of work and respect for the basic rights of workers. Reflecting these values, Nazareth faculty and students actively advocate for the right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, and to the organization and joining of unions.

We believe that bargaining collectively to determine our working conditions will allow us to have a voice to win inclusion in the academic community, and to underscore our commitment to quality education.

The faith communities represented within the Nazareth educational experience have always seen union organizing as an essential means of promoting social justice. With this in mind, we have affiliated our movement with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), one of the largest unions of contingent faculty in the country. SEIU faculty members work to raise employment standards for contingent faculty and underscore the central role of teaching and teachers to our institutions.

We have been impressed by the gains made by contingent faculty through unionization at Ithaca College, the College of St Rose, American University, George Washington University, Tufts University, Georgetown University, and elsewhere. These gains include: pay increases, improved job security, better processes for teaching assignments, fair and transparent evaluations, access to more benefits, and a platform to allow their voices to be heard.

Join Us! The first step is to fill out a union authorization card today: http://seiu200united.seiu.org/page/s/faculty-forward-union-authorization-card

You may be approached by a colleague or SEIU organizer during the upcoming weeks. We invite you to join our movement to reform higher education nationally and to re-establish the centrality of teaching at our institutions. You can find further information at our campaign website, http://seiufacultyforward.org.

By joining together, we can win a voice in the life of our campus and improve our students’ learning conditions.

Sincerely,

Diane Abrahamian-Macnally, Dept. of Theater and Dance
Hettie Barnhill, Dept. of Theater and Dance
Meredith Benamati, Dept. of Communication Sciences & Disorders
Patricia Lewis Browne, Dept. of Theatre and Dance
David Caiazza, Dept. of Education
Karen Cameron, Dept. of Education
Bill Capossere, Dept. of English and Communication
Eric Carlin, Dept. of Music
Danielle Compton, Dept. of Education
Deborah Conquest, Dept. Of Music
Jeanne Coonan, Dept. of Music
David Cowles, Dept. of Art
Marianne Dalton, Dept. of Theatre and Dance
Lisa Danish, Dept. of Biology
Dave Drago, Dept. of Management
Debra Finley-Cottone, Dept. of Nursing
Sarah Flaherty, Dept. of Art
Janice Fortuna, Dept of Education
Jennifer Gkourlias, Dept. of Education
Chris Gold, Dept. of Creative Arts Therapy
Patrick Haney, Dept. of Art
Maureen Hickey, Dept of Athletics
Susan Hume, Dept. of Management
Peter Iglinski, Dept. of Communication Sciences & Disorders
Eric Kessler, Dept. of Music
Andrew Knapp, Dept. of Psychology
Beverly Lanoue, Dept. of Education
Margaret Leenhouts, Dept. of Music
Anna Maria Leone-Tobar, Dept. of Education
Amy Lyons, Dept. of Creative Arts Therapy
Dr. Chisato Eda Marling, Dept. of Music
Josh Massicot, Dept of Music
Lisa Mauro, Dept. of Art
Rita Mignacca, Dept. of English and Communication
Caroline Mulrooney, Dept. of English and Communication
Martin Naparsteck, Dept. of English and Communication
Kevin Nitsch, Dept of Music
Nancy O’Donnell, Dept of English and Communication
Dr. Marjory Payne, Dept of English and Communication
Michelle Pritchard, Dept. of Theatre and Dance
Fidel Puga, Dept. of Theatre and Dance
Carol Saladzius, Dept of Education
Jenna Samudio, Dept. of Foreign Languages & Literature
Charles Schallhorn, Dept. of Physics
Mamta Singh, Dept. of Chemistry
Jeremy Stoner, Dept. of Music
Hui Sun, Dept. of Physics
Matthew Teal, Dept. of Social Work
Traci Terrance, Dept. of Social Work
Ruth Turner, Dept of Social Work
Kimberly Upcraft, Dept. of Music
Kyle Vock, Dept. of Music Business
Timothy Weider, Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology
Colleen Wolf, Dept. of Music

Aside from the undersigned, non-tenure track faculty comprise two-thirds of the faculty at Nazareth, earning about $2,500 per course at an institution where students pay $46,000 per year. Reports of adjunct faculty depending on food stamps may sound shocking at first, but the number of Ph.Ds on food stamps tripled between 2007 and 2010.

If the adjuncts win out, it will be the first major union formed in the Rochester area in nearly a decade.

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