As advocates for contingent faculty members gathered here over the weekend for a forum on how to improve that population’s working conditions, they seemed in agreement that they needed to look well beyond their colleges’ faculties for support for their efforts. The people they characterized as their best allies were not tenure-track colleagues but students, tuition-paying parents, and hourly workers who perform tasks such as serving cafeteria food or mopping hallway floors.
David Wilder, a part-time lecturer in art history at John Carroll University and co-chairman of the Ohio Part-Time Faculty Association’s organizing committee, said he in fact cringes when he hears adjunct instructors complain that their college’s janitors make more money than they do. “The janitor is going to be more our ally than some of the professors,” he said.
Wayne Langley, who has helped unionize nonacademic college employees as director of the higher-education division of SEIU Local 615, which covers Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island, said “there is a strong argument for a commonality of interests” of all college employees. <Read more.>