Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Adjunct faculty move to unionize at Nazareth College

Adjunct faculty move to unionize at Nazareth College

Demonstration for adjunct faculty at Nazareth College. (Diana Louise Carter)
Demonstration for adjunct faculty at Nazareth College. (Diana Louise Carter)

Adjunct faculty at Nazareth College today filed a notice with the National Labor Relations Board that they intend to have an election to consider joining a union to represent them.

A demonstration of approximately 30 people, including adjunct faculty, full-time faculty, students and union organizers, was held just outside the center gate of the campus on East Avenue before the group walked a petition to Nazareth President Daan Braveman’s office. Braveman was out of town but provided a statement saying, in part, “Nazareth respects and supports each part-time faculty member’s right to make a personal decision about participation in union activity.”

The union under consideration is Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Local 200United.

Before the brief march, several people made statements, including Colleen Wolf, a second-year adjunct in the music department who juggles two other jobs to support herself and her two sons.

Like other faculty, Wolf said she loves teaching at Nazareth, but finds it financially straining.

“It’s very hard for me to think about my future and how I’m going to be able to continue doing this,” Wolf said. She noted that because she’s a widow, her children receive Social Security benefits that help support the family. When they turn 18, however, those benefits will cease and Wolf said she doesn’t know how she’ll make up the difference.

“I don’t think the person teaching should be the person who can afford to teach here, it should be the best teacher for the job,” she said.

Union organizers and adjunct faculty said approximately 300, or about two thirds of the faculty at Nazareth, are adjunct faculty who are paid about $2,700 to teach a three-credit course. Their pay doesn’t include office hours and there are no benefits such as health care or paid professional development.

Music professor Josh Massicot described writing a textbook on his own time – rather than during a paid sabbatical as full-time staff do – and then having to pay his own way to attend a conference to make a presentation on his work.  No matter how much recognition adjuncts may earn professionally, Massicot said, they have no job security. “We remain appointed on a semester-by-semester basis.”

Student Katie Thomas, a senior theater major, told the group she is supporting the teachers because “adjuncts have been so integral to my success here at Nazareth College. Most of my dance professors and one of my theater professors are adjuncts who have shaped me into the woman and artist I am today.”

Organizer Jake Allen said while adjunct pay is an issue at most colleges and universities that have shifted to teaching the majority of their courses with part-time staff, Nazareth is a particular focus because it pays less than other schools for adjunct teaching.

“In many cases, people can make more working even at MCC, than a school like Nazareth where students are paying $46,000 a year for the privilege of going there,” Allen said.

[email protected]/(585) 363-7275