Monday, February 22, 2010

If unionization was not allowed, would you care?

Thanks to a list-serve colleague at Adjunct Nation for this article -- "Adjuncts Apathetic on Unionization." It seems we're front and center in all types of media these days! Despite the discouraging headline, suggesting we're a bunch of layabouts with little interest in our own welfare, this article published in The Diamondback, University of Maryland's independent student newspaper this past Friday (February 19) covers the territory quite well. At least it acknowledges the reasons for our lack of involvement and finally concludes that we "care," but just don't have the wherewithal (time, especially) to do much about it.

Here's an excerpt:
Graduate assistants and adjunct faculty at state public universities do not currently have a legal right to collectively bargain. But after a November report was issued stating that they should not be allowed to unionize because of the expense it would impose on and the friction it could cause in state institutions, a heated dispute erupted among graduate students, state officials and university system administrators. Most adjuncts, however, seem apathetic or unaware of the issues surrounding this ongoing debate.“The sort of disengagement that most part-time faculty feel is because they work two or three jobs,” said Monica Jacobe, an adjunct University Senate representative. “A lot of adjuncts don’t take their job farther than what they are contractually obligated to do.”

The part-timers' union I belong to at Wayne State U is constantly faced with this challenge of member "disengagement." With schedule conflicts, being over-extended, overworked and underpaid, we're lucky to get 20 people together (from a membership of hundreds) for a general meeting. I've been as "apathetic" as the next person, over the years. However, there are powerful economic forces ranged against our progress as a professional group, and I've had a sinking feeling lately that this could very well be it for my so-called career. If it doesn't get better, it's probably going to get worse, so--bottom line--I'm trying to squeak out a little more hands-on involvement.
What about you? Got a union story to share?

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