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In the latest victory for the growing Faculty Forward movement in Florida,
Adjunct Professors at St. Petersburg College Vote to Unionize
They’re the seventh group to form their union in Florida in the past three years as part of a growing push for increased investment in the state’s colleges and universities
FLORIDA – Today, adjunct faculty at St. Petersburg College voted to form their union with SEIU FPSU Faculty Forward. The result of this election comes as professors across the state have formed their unions at an unprecedented rate and as college affordability is increasingly becoming a central policy issue for local and presidential candidates.
“As the cost of college has soared, we have seen wages for educators plummet. Our students are stuck with the bill while administrators fight to keep colleges and universities running with increasingly smaller budgets,” said Angela Edwards-Luckett, an adjunct professor of World Religions at St. Petersburg College. “Across Florida, educators are struggling. That’s why we voted to form our union at St. Petersburg College, so that the administration and legislators in Tallahassee and Washington can hear us.”
St. Petersburg College professors’ organizing campaign gained statewide and national attention. Adjunct professors in Florida are organizing and demanding that administrators and politicians address the issues of poverty pay and precarious working conditions for educators and invest in the state’s higher education system to ensure students are not trapped in debt.
“Today, we have taken an important step towards achieving fairness at St. Petersburg College,” said Eron Higgins, an adjunct professor of Earth Science at St. Petersburg College. “Adjuncts teach the majority of classes at St. Petersburg College, yet many of us can’t cover the basics. It’s time for us to come together and ensure that adjunct faculty can earn a living, while providing students a great education.”
With the union vote at St. Petersburg College, SEIU FPSU Faculty Forward is now poised to represent nearly 9,500 adjuncts in Florida public colleges and universities. St. Petersburg College adjunct faculty join their colleagues at Hillsborough Community College, Broward College, University of South Florida, Seminole State College, Miami Dade College and Lake-Sumter State College who have already formed their unions with SEIU Florida Public Services Union.
Florida has become an unlikely hotbed of academic protest and organizing. In three years, half of Florida College System adjunct professors have either formed or filed for their union. In total, nearly 9,500 adjunct professors teaching in the state’s colleges and universities are on the path to having union representation. Over the last decade, per student investment in higher education is down 13 percent in Florida. Funding cuts have forced colleges and universities to fill the gap by raising tuition and relying on lower-paid adjunct faculty. Adjunct professors make a median of just $17,000 a year. Meanwhile average tuition is up 59 percent and student debt in Florida has grown faster than in any other state over the past three years. As a result, three of the six metro areas with the biggest student debt increase in the country are in Florida: Orlando, Tampa and Miami.
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