FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Seminole State College and Valencia College Adjuncts File for Union Election
In the latest development for the growing Faculty Forward movement in Florida, adjunct faculty at Valencia College and Seminole State College announced today that they filed for a union election. The group hopes to improve wages, job security and standards in higher education.
“Teaching is a calling, yet I cannot sufficiently serve my students when I’m constantly stressed about how I’ll cover my bills,” said Jennifer Copp, an adjunct at Seminole State College who teaches digital photography. “Across Florida, educators are struggling. That’s why we’re standing up today and why we’ll keep fighting until we achieve the respect and equity each one of us deserves.”
In 2016, 75 percent of faculty at Valencia and 69 percent of faculty at Seminole were contingent and off the tenure track. Despite being the majority of faculty, adjunct professors make about $1,800 for a three credit course at Valencia and $1,900 for a three credit course at Seminole.
In moving to form their unions, Valencia and Seminole faculty join a growing national movement of contingent faculty members organizing for better wages, benefits and working conditions. Over the last two years in Florida alone, Hillsborough Community College, Broward College and University of South Florida faculty voted to form unions.
“I strongly believe in fairness and justice. Today, we have taken an important step towards achieving that at Valencia College,” said Ryan Rilea, an adjunct professor who has taught political science at Valencia College for the past seven years. “Adjuncts teach the majority of classes at Valencia, 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.”
Over the past decade, Florida’s elected officials have defunded higher education, reducing spending by more than 19 percent per student since 2008. These budget cuts have largely been passed on to adjunct faculty, whose low pay has remained more or less stagnant. According to a survey of nearly eight hundred faculty members across Florida, poverty among adjunct faculty teaching at universities and colleges is extremely common. In response, adjunct faculty across Florida have come together to launch a higher education voter pledge that calls for adequate funding for colleges and universities, safe campuses where all can learn, student loan relief and debt-free college for all, as well as good jobs, fair pay and union rights for campus employees.