Contingent faculty members on PLU’s campus have decided to work with the Service Employees International Union, in order to raise their standards of employment.
Both contingent and tenured faculty wrote open letters and placed them in The Mooring Mast, PLU’s student newspaper, last week.
The letters addressed the issue of contingent faculty as unprotected at PLU, meaning that they have no job security, are paid much less, have reduced access to professional activities, are barred from standing committees, and have no vote in the faculty assembly. The letter written by contingent faculty stated that they will be working with SEIU to improve their working conditions.
So, what exactly is SEIU, and how will PLU’s contingent faculty members benefit from unionizing?
SEIU is the fastest growing union in North America, and one of the largest unions of contingent faculty in the country. It serves its members, numbering 2.1 million, in the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico.
One of their campaigns is called “The Coalition of Academic Labor,” the purpose of which is to work “towards improving the quality of academic jobs and higher education standards.” Through this campaign, academic employees are encouraged to unionize in order to foster solidarity and improve collective bargaining for fairer wages and improved benefits.
Recently, adjunct faculty in New Hampshire, Boston, Maine, and Maryland at various colleges and universities have formed unions through SEIU, which has allowed them to form contracts for better pay, improved time off, and improved job security, among other things.
Contingent faculty at PLU will likely be the next group of employees in higher education to unionize through this group, having already begun discussions with SEIU.
SEIU website: http://www.seiu.org/