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On the heels of a historic seven-city bus tour to highlight the need for greater investment in Florida’s colleges and universities,
Seminole State College of Florida Adjunct Faculty Win Opportunity to Hold Union Election
FLORIDA – Adjunct faculty at Seminole State College of Florida are one step closer to forming their union as faculty have reached an agreement with the administration to hold a union election. With this breakthrough, Seminole State faculty have the opportunity to join their colleagues at Hillsborough Community College, Broward College, and University of South Florida who have already formed their unions with SEIU Faculty Forward in Florida. Adjunct faculty at Valencia College and Miami Dade College have also filed to form their union as faculty across Florida are organizing for change on their campuses across the state.
“This is an important step as we move to make positive change at Seminole State College and across Florida’s College System to improve our working conditions and our students’ learning conditions,” said Nancy DeLong, adjunct professor of English at Seminole State College. “This is about coming together with our colleagues to negotiate better wages and job security, thereby improving the quality of life for our adjunct workforce. We remain committed to ensuring that we encourage our students to thrive and succeed.”
As faculty at Seminole State College prepare for their union election beginning September 17, faculty at Valencia College continue to wait on the administration to agree to an election. Even though faculty at both schools filed for a union election on the same day, Valencia College’s administration has yet to agree to allow faculty to exercise their right to vote to form their union.
“While it’s disappointing that the administration hasn’t agreed to an election process at Valencia College, we’re happy our Seminole State colleagues are one step closer to transforming higher education in Florida,” said Ryan Rilea, an adjunct professor of political science at Valencia College. “We will continue organizing because we know that our fight for greater investment in the state’s higher education system begins with having a union on our campus.”
Years of austerity in Tallahassee have resulted in a broken higher education system that leaves too many in debt and poverty in Florida, adjunct professors say. The state is ranked 50th in the nation for investment in public services and has seen substantial cuts to education. Higher education funding is down by more than 23 percent from a decade ago, while tuition is up by 62 percent over the same period. Today, Floridians hold nearly $80 billion in student loan debt and adjunct professors are paid so little that many have to rely on government assistance.
While Florida has become a symbol of challenges in the higher education system, it has also become the center of a growing movement to organize for change. Over the past two years, adjunct professors at Hillsborough Community College, Broward College, and University of South Florida have formed their unions. Faculty at Valencia College, Seminole State College and Miami Dade College recently filed for their unions and others are actively organizing across the state. These adjuncts, who are part of the growing SEIU Faculty Forward movement, have called on political candidates at the gubernatorial debate and town hall meetings in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Miami to commit to reinvesting in students and educators alike by supporting free college.