Launching a New Campaign

Bentley adjunct Feb 2014 Vanguard adDear Bentley Adjuncts:

Last fall, the effort to establish a Bentley Adjunct Faculty Union to improve our pay, benefits, and job security fell short by only two votes. We’d like you to know that the still-growing movement of our fellow adjuncts is launching a new campaign in 2014. The cornerstone of our position is the fair and ethical treatment of Bentley’s adjuncts, who comprise about 40% of this university’s faculty. On that basis, we ask you to consider the facts afresh, to talk with us this semester and to play some active part. We will be working to correct misinformation and connect with even more adjuncts, including those who did not vote at all and those who voted No.

We intend over the coming weeks to lay out clearly why this effort is not only in the interest of all Bentley adjuncts, but of all Bentley faculty, as well as the students we teach and the university itself. We welcome the support and active assistance of all educators on the Bentley campus who agree that all of the highly qualified and educated instructors who teach Bentley’s students should be paid as the professionals that they are, and should receive employment benefits.

Bentley, like many institutions of higher education, has been increasing its use of “contract adjuncts” as de facto employees
for many profitable years, paying low salaries with no benefits or job security, while knowing full well that the need for adjuncts is regular, year-round and ongoing. The ethical imperative is fair treatment for all. This past year, faced with the union-organizing activity, Bentley gave adjuncts an overdue raise that merely brought them closer to where the earlier trend of raises indicated they should be. More importantly, there was no move toward a new policy that would truly improve adjunct conditions.

The impact of inequitable treatment of adjunct faculty has been detailed with growing frequency in many higher education journals and in mainstream news. In fact, a January 2014 report from the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce presents what it calls “an alarming snapshot of life for contingent faculty,” finding as well  “a shortchanging of students who pay ever-increasing tuition.” It shows that we are the highest-educated workers in the realm of minimum wage labor. The report also finds no reason why adjuncts are grossly underpaid for the level of skills and experience required to teach at the college level.

It is apparent that there is a major problem throughout the country, the region, and at Bentley with respect to adjunct employment. It is equally apparent that without the shared strength of a union and collective bargaining, there will be no significant changes. This is particularly unfortunate at Bentley, given the university’s stated mission of inculcating business ethics and social responsibility in everything it stands for. Moreover, we believe that a school with a $201 million endowment and over $200 million in annual tuition can afford fair treatment of all of its employees, without passing the costs on to students and their families.

This campaign will show why Bentley must move past the contradiction between its treatment of adjuncts and what it preaches about ethics across its curriculum. If teaching is not the main source of your livelihood, please consider the effect of inadequate compensation and lack of benefits on those adjuncts who dedicate themselves to teaching as a career. In fact, we believe this is a major opportunity for Bentley to take national leadership in applying its own business ideals relative to ethics and social responsibility. And so, we hope that last year’s near success will inspire you to join in standing up for our valuable labor and the integrity of our profession.

Your friends and colleagues,
Concerned Bentley Adjunct Faculty

Lord Andzie-Quainoo (Economics)
Joan Atlas (English and Media Studies)
Lilian Bobea (Sociology)
Roger Danchise (Natural and Applied Sciences)
Jack Dempsey (English and Media Studies)
Thomas Finn (English and Media Studies)
Patricia Glynn (English and Media Studies)
Robert Hannigan (History)
Mary Hartman (Finance)
Curtis Holland (Sociology)
Tom Johnson (History)
Ted Kaplan (Mathematical Sciences)
Robert Keefe (English and Media Studies)
Doug Kierdorf (History)
Barbara Nash (Natural and Applied Sciences)
Alicia Nitecki (English and Media Studies)
Elaine Saunders (Mathematical Sciences)
Clarissa Sawyer (Natural and Applied Sciences)
George Seeley (Global Studies)
Jonathan Speros (Accountancy)
Rebecca Thorndike-Breeze (English and Media Studies)
Kim Vaeth (English and Media Studies)
Fred Wesemann (English and Media Studies)