PITTSFORD, NY — At a press conference Tuesday afternoon, adjunct faculty at Nazareth College were joined by their students, tenure-track/tenured colleagues, and community supporters to announce they filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to join Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Local 200United. The move to unionize comes after months of organizing and conversations across campus and is part of a national movement of contingent faculty, graduate student workers, and educators organizing and agitating for higher wages and job protections. After speaking to the press, a small delegation of adjuncts and supporters marched to President Daan Braveman’s office to deliver a petition signed by over 500 students calling on the administration to remain neutral and allow for a free and fair election process.
“I support the formation of a union to obtain the collective bargaining rights so we that can advocate for responsible compensation, access to health insurance and other benefits, and the dignified treatment of my fellow hard working professionals,” said Patty Lewis Browne, a lecturer in the Theatre and Dance Department for over 10 years and member of the union organizing committee.
Nazareth College relies on approximately 300 adjunct faculty throughout the academic year to teach classes across the college. Adjuncts teach on a semester-to-semester basis and even those who have taught at Nazareth for years have no guarantee of reappointment. Adjuncts are typically paid around $2,700 per three credit course even though they do the same work and teach the same students as their full-time, tenure-track colleagues. They often are not provided office space to meet privately with their students.
“Our adverse working conditions constantly force myself and my colleagues to balance the educators we want to be, the educators our students deserve, and the educators that we are paid to be. Nazareth College can and must do better. By gaining a collective voice and recognizing the significant and vital contributions that part-time faculty make, Nazareth College will keep the promise of its mission statement: to foster a comprehensive educational institution that provides its students with transformational experiences,” said Josh Massicot, a lecturer in the Music Department and member of the union organizing committee.
Many members of the campus and greater Rochester area community came out to show their support. Several students joined members of the union organizing committee in delivering a petition to President Daan Braveman’s office urging him to remain neutral and not use student tuition dollars to bust the adjuncts’ union organizing efforts.
“Adjuncts have been so integral to my success here at Nazareth College. Most of my dance professors and one of my theatre professors are adjuncts who have shaped me into the woman and artist I am today. It’s important to me to support them as they have supported me over the past four years,” said Katie Thomas, a senior at Nazareth College.
Since 2014, over 25,000 adjunct and contingent faculty have joined SEIU nationwide through its Faculty Forward project. Most recently, contingent faculty at Fordham University voted overwhelmingly to join SEIU Local 200United, after reaching a landmark neutrality agreement with the administration.