POUGHKEEPSIE — Nearly three weeks after holding a press conference discussing their efforts to improve conditions, adjunct instructors at Marist College filed with the National Labor Relations Board today to form their union with SEIU/Adjunct Action. They seek a voice in their classrooms, a fair process for class reappointments and pay parity.
Adjunct faculty at Marist College comprise the majority of professors at the school, but they are contingent employees, meaning they are hired semester to semester without job security, and paid an average of $3,000 per class. Adjuncts express a desire to gain a voice in shared governance.
The Marist adjuncts, after hearing about organizing victories at Georgetown University, George Washington University, American University, Tufts University and others, reached out to SEIU/Adjunct Action. The Service Employees International Union initiative seeks to identify and meet the needs of adjuncts who wish to raise standards for their profession.
"This is just a step, but it’s a big one," said Gary Kenton, a Marist College adjunct. "Because many of us have exercised our right to have a free and fair election, all of the adjunct professors at Marist now have a clear choice: Do we want to have a say in the conditions under which we teach? I believe this is a positive development, not just for adjuncts, but for students and the college as a whole."
While adjunct faculty were surprised that the Marist administration recently responded to their efforts by hiring the expensive, anti-union law firm Bond, Schoeneck & King, they remain confident they will succeed. The minimum number of signatures adjuncts are required to collect to file for an NLRB election is 30%; however, adjunct faculty report that they far exceeded this goal, a testament to their desire to win a voice for their profession.