What does your professor have in common with the McDonald's worker?... 'Working Poor' include adjunct faculty of City Colleges of Chicago... Labor Beat video...

City Colleges of Chicago adjunct faculty held an informational picket at City Hall on July 29, 2015 while the City Council met. Photo Larry Duncan for Labor Beat.Adjunct faculty from the campuses of the City Colleges of Chicago held a rally and informational picket in front of City Hall on Wednesday, July 29, 2015. Their goal was to educate city council members about the deplorable situation created by City Colleges policies toward 65% of their faculty: no contract in three years; salaries for most adjuncts under the Federal Poverty Level, with a pro-rated salary 48% less that full-time faculty; no benefits. This, despite the fact that adjunct faculty have the same qualifications and experience as full-time faculty and teach the same courses. Some aldermen they spoke with as they arrived for a City Council meeting told them they were unaware of this.The Working Poor: City Colleges of Chicago Adjuncts

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The video includes nterviews with Randy Miller (CCCLOC Union Rep., Truman College), Loretta Ragsdell (President, City Colleges Contingent Labor Organizing Committee), Daniel Stein (Adult Educator, Truman College). Length - 5:22.

A graphic shows City Colleges of Chicago adjunct faculty informational picket at City Hall on July 29, 2015. Photo: Larry Duncan / Labor Beat

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Why My Fellow Adjuncts and I Decided To Form A Union at Our Community College

Luke Niebler

July 28, 2015

In These Times

The barriers to organizing adjuncts are real and difficult to overcome. We often dont know our coworkers, we are decentralized and our lack of security creates a pervasive fear among adjuncts. However, the only way that we will be able to fight for increased pay, greater job security and a voice in the college is by working collectively.

, neaToday,

On my first day teaching at the Community College of Allegheny County in Pittsburgh, I was wracked with the normal anxieties of a new college instructor: What if the students dont like me? What if my lesson plan falls apart? Where exactly is the copy machine? What if my hair looks stupid?

However, as I adjusted to life as an adjunct instructor with a semester-to-semester contract, my questions quickly changed: What if my classes dont run and I cant make rent? How do I get from class to my next job in time? How do I meet with students without real office space?

After years of organizing, we have won our union election, and hopefully I can get back to worrying more about lesson plans than my financial stability. On July 14, 86% of my colleagues voted to form a union with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), effectively unionizing over 800 instructors across CCACs four campuses. And while this is only the first step before we head to the bargaining table, it represents a huge victory for academic labor and contingent faculty.

The road to the election was long, starting through casual office discussions in 2012. From then, we began to form a relationship with the United Steelworkers, who were then organizing adjunct faculty at Point Park University and Duquesne University. After some discussion, we then chose to be represented by the AFT, which has represented the full time faculty at CCAC since 1971. With the help of our full time colleagues, we then put our nose to the grindstone and tracked down hundreds of our coworkers scattered throughout Western Pennsylvania. Two years and countless phone calls, house calls and hallway conversations later, we have full recognition as members of a union.

Although the adjuncts at CCAC have tried to organize in the past, our drive flourished because of a few key factors. First, the changing political climate over the past few years has brought adjunct labor issues to the front of many peoples minds. Especially in Pittsburgh, the death of Margaret Mary Vojtko at Duquesne University provided a tragic example of adjunct exploitation and kicked off a national conversation. As I spoke to my colleagues, they were aware of the larger picture and how the corporatization of higher education has marginalized faculty. Many instructors were excited to hear that we could band together to improve our working conditions and have a real voice in the life of the college.

Second, the national movement to unionize contingent faculty was instrumental in our organizing effort. The work of adjuncts in the Washington, D.C. area, St. Louis, Boston, Philadelphia and across the country provided us with valuable lessons as we talked to coworkers, community members and students over the past three years. The momentum of adjunct organizing inspired us as we watched our friends at Duquesne fight a hostile administration and as we followed George Washington Universitys successes at the bargaining table. During the campaign, we were bolstered by messages from the United Academics of Philadelphia, who are fighting a tough campaign against the administration at Temple University. Throughout our union drive, the national movement showed us time and time again that unionizing was possible and essential to reclaiming our value as workers and educators.

Third, the support we received from the larger community was invaluable as we moved to the election. No one can live or organize in a vacuum. The full-time faculty union provided essential support to us, and the members have helped us build a strong working relationship with the colleges administration. Amazingly, CCACs administration has not thrown any roadblocks our way, choosing instead to respect the voices of faculty at the college. This spirit of collaboration has been aided at every step of the way by our team of AFT organizers, other union allies and even friends in the administration. This coalition of supporters will be essential as we fight for our needs at the bargaining table and work as members of the CCAC community.

The barriers to organizing adjuncts are real and difficult to overcome. We often dont know our coworkers, we are decentralized and our lack of security creates a pervasive fear among adjuncts. However, the only way that we will be able to fight for increased pay, greater job security and a voice in the college is by working collectively.

We are teetering at the edge of major changes in the structure and future of higher education in the United States. Facultythose of us who are most concerned with students' well beingmust have a voice in creating a sustainable, just education system, both for us and future generations of students.

Of course, this is only the beginning. So far, weve only won the legal right to bargain collectively, and the real work of building a contract is only starting. However, the relationships we have built through the process will give us power to advocate for a stronger, sustainable and more just educational community. And hopefully, well be able to help push the movement forward as other groups of adjuncts across the country seize power in their workplaces and make their voices heard.


Luke Niebler is an English adjunt instructor at Community College of Allegheny County, PIttsburgh, an activist among his coworkers and an academic. You can follow the CCAC adjunct movement at @CCAC_adjuncts


August 3, 2015 at 2:11 PM

By: Joe Berry

CCCLOC article

As a founder of CCCLOC, I am very proud of my old union. To say teachers at CCC's work and fight under difficult conditions is very understates. Especially the part-timers, both the credit part-timers in CCCLOC, IEA/NEA, and the adult educators in AFSCME. They deserve all solidarity that can be mustered. Hats off to these folks courageous enough to demonstrate when they have so little job security.

Joe Berry


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