A bunch of underpaid adjuncts walk into a bar…

On Wednesday, May 7, about twenty-five SFAI contingent faculty members held an all-faculty meeting at an undisclosed location with no union organizers present. Our intention was to find organic, productive ways to talk about the upcoming union election, to affirm the need for union representation, and to empower ourselves to use that representation to our advantage. The meeting was very exciting, mainly because we got to reveal facts and stories that we’d long been keeping to ourselves– either out of shame or discomfort or concern for our respective professional image/s. Some of us described the following experiences:

–Working at SFAI for 4, 7, or 12 years without a single raise. No cost-of-living; no performance reviews; no merit pay. Nothing.

–Receiving a two-year contract with a salary offer that was lower (per year) than the previous years’ salary

–Being hired as an adjunct with promises of consideration for future tenure-track employment (“keep in mind that we promote from within…”), only to be told one or two years later that no tenure-track lines would be created for at least five more years

–Being interviewed (on the same day as eleven other Visiting Faculty in the same department) for the one tenure-track position to come available in years, with no internal candidate invited for an on-campus interview

–Admitting to everyone in the room that none of us have any bargaining power over wages or benefits, despite the administration insisting to us that we have “individual control” over the terms of our employment

[Solidarity and excitement about airing our frustrations to each other: priceless.]

Union election ballots go out tomorrow. If you’re eligible to vote, consider voting “yes”. It will give our voice more volume in this debate.

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