USF Adjuncts Vote to Unionize

In the latest victory for the growing Faculty Forward movement in Florida,
University of South Florida Adjuncts Vote Decisively to Unionize

NATIONAL – Despite aggressive opposition from administrators over the last year, today University of South Florida (USF) adjunct faculty voted by an overwhelming nearly 4-1 margin to form their union.

“After a long fight, we couldn’t be more excited about today’s victory,” said Dana Corrigan, a University of South Florida animation adjunct professor from the Public Employees Relations Committee vote count in Tallahassee. “We’ve been standing up for what’s right and it feels so good to finally have official recognition of our union.”

USF adjuncts, many of whom say their lack of job security and low pay leaves them struggling to cover the basics, launched their high-profile organizing effort in early 2017. Their resolve was bolstered when they lost a university colleague, Robert Ryan, who had signed a union card, but died before he was able to cast his vote. Despite fierce opposition from USF administrators, including an anti-union email and meeting series that garnered national attention, USF adjunct faculty remain positive about the prospect of working with the university.

“As adjunct faculty, we teach so many of the courses and interact so frequently with students, that we know our insights into the classroom are valuable contributions to the campus conversation,” said Gary Simon, a University of South Florida history adjunct professor. “Adjuncts working with our administrators can build a better USF for students and educators alike.”

Despite national and local attacks on unions, including through the high-profile Supreme Court Janus v. AFSCME case, University of South Florida adjunct faculty are the third such group in Florida to form their union in just the last year and a half. The victory comes as contingent faculty at Hillsborough Community College and Broward College negotiate their first contracts.

“We’re excited to have our colleagues at USF officially join those of us at Broward College and Hillsborough Community College in the fight to transform Florida higher education,” said Carolina Ampudia, a Broward College anatomy and physiology adjunct professor. “By coming together, we know that not only can we change our campus, but together we can lead the way toward affordable, accessible quality education that values educators across our state.”

To this end, adjunct faculty from around Florida converged in Miami last month to discuss ways to improve higher education. They launched 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. Already, more than fifteen-hundred Floridians have signed their pledge.