Feb. 25, 2015

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Chapters put focus on adjuncts

uupdate 2-27-15

UUP members didn’t walk out on National Adjunct Walkout Day.

Instead, UUPers at campuses across the state held workshops and informational events to highlight the many issues adjuncts face.

Albany, Canton, Fredonia, Morrisville, Oneonta, Oswego and Plattsburgh are some of the chapters where members participated in events to inform and educate members and students about the overreliance and overuse of adjuncts.

At UAlbany for example, the Albany Chapter’s Contingent Concerns Committee hosted “Challenging Contingency,” a lunchtime presentation and panel discussion.

“I want to make certain that we make every effort to improve the lives of contingents on campus, but that we do so in a way that does not put any of us, especially contingents who are most vulnerable, at risk of violating the law,” said Albany Chapter President Bret Benjamin.

“We support our adjunct faculty and we applaud chapters who chose to take part in the national action for adjuncts without engaging in an organized walkout,” said UUP President Fred Kowal.

National Adjunct Walkout Day was Feb. 25; through social media, adjuncts across the country were urged to walk out of class at the same time to protest low wages and poor working conditions adjuncts deal with. Most didn’t; instead they staged teach-ins, rallies and other events.

In January, Kowal urged members to not participate in the walkout. Doing so would constitute an illegal strike under the Taylor Law; members who walked out while on the job risked being disciplined and fired.

Members heard Kowal’s message and chose other ways to take a stand.

At New Paltz, the chapter honored more than 300 contingent faculty members during its National Adjunct Action Week, which started Feb. 23 and ran through Friday, Feb. 27, said Chapter President Peter D. G. Brown, above. The chapter set up a display listing about 700 courses that are taught by 57 full-time lecturers and 248 adjunct lecturers and instructors.

“Students are adversely affected when their teachers lack basic support in the form of a living wage or offices to meet and mentor their students," Brown said. "Education suffers in the absence of any meaningful academic freedom due to our contingent faculty’s precarious employment.”

At Fredonia, the chapter hosted a week-long series of events and activities as part of its National Adjunct Action/Awareness Week. The chapter asked faculty, professionals, students, staff and administrators to participate in daily events such as taking a selfie while holding a hand-made sign with a statement supporting adjuncts.

The Canton Chapter had an informational table with information about adjuncts’ issues; chapter members handed out fliers and information to faculty, students and staff, said Sabel Bong, a chapter delegate.

At Oswego, the chapter discussed forming a new campus Contingent Concerns Committee at a lunchtime workshop, said Lori Nash, Oswego’s chapter president. Issues affecting adjuncts was the topic of a lunchtime meeting hosted by the Oneonta Chapter.

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