SEIU 509 Fights for Economic Justice for Adjunct Faculty

Bill would invest in pay equity, economic security, and student learning

BOSTON, MA – Dozens of members of SEIU Local 509, the Massachusetts union for educators and human service workers, are at the State House today to fight back against the corporatization of higher education. With colleges and universities beginning to act more like businesses than like institutions of higher learning, investments in faculty and instruction are disproportionately lower than increases in administrative and other costs. As a result, adjunct faculty — who teach a majority of courses at many area universities — are not paid fairly for their commitment to student learning.

“The question of adjunct pay goes to the heart of the mission of higher education—teaching. That’s what adjuncts do,” said Dan Hunter, an adjunct professor at Boston University. “Adjuncts like me teach more than 50% of the classes nationwide, meeting the same standards as our full-time and tenured colleagues. Yet we receive about 20% of the same pay.”

A first of its kind bill, H.2236 — sponsored by Representative Tom Stanley — addresses the pressing economic issues facing the thousands of adjunct faculty who teach at private higher education institutions across the Commonwealth. The measure ensures pay equity for adjunct faculty and that they receive the same pay per course as their full-time colleagues. Adjunct faculty are gig workers, and often course assignments are routinely cancelled at the last minute, after the instructor has put in weeks or months of preparation. H.2236 would require universities to take responsibility for some of the costs these flexible employment practices impose — by giving sufficient notice of course assignments and paying adjunct faculty a percentage of what they would have earned for the course if it’s cancelled.

“Too often, colleges and universities exploit our passion as faculty, knowing we will maintain high standards because we feel deep responsibility to our students,” said Amy Todd, who has worked as an adjunct at UMass Boston, Northeastern University, MIT, Dartmouth College, Boston University, and Brandeis University. “We also need to earn a living wage and have stability of employment to be the best teachers possible.”

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More information about H.2236 is available here. To interview adjunct faculty in the Commonwealth about their commitment to student learning, contact Christie Stephenson at (413) 374-6370.

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