Letter to the Editor: Support the Adjunct Professors at Bentley
An open letter addressed to the faculty and students
Over the past few semesters we’ve all heard of the effort by Bentley professors to allow Adjunct Professors to unionize. These professors successfully organized a faculty vote on the issue and lost at 100-98 votes. The small disparity indicates how contentious the issue is among faculty at Bentley and I’m writing to show my support for the Bentley Adjunct Professors.
Adjuncts (40% of the faculty) have taught nearly every student at this school. In many cases, these professors teach us the courses that serve as a foundation for the rest of our academic careers, such as Expository
Writing and the GBs. We call them “Professor” and usually assume they are all the same; however, adjunct professors are treated similarly to low-level Walmart employees: low pay, long work hours, no benefits, and forced part time work.
Unlike Walmart employees however, Bentley adjuncts don’t conduct easily replicable tasks that a cash register employee does and after extensive training they spend years working at Bentley to educate students about topics ranging from the sciences, to economics, to business. They provide an education that Bentley builds its reputation on.
Paid a small sum per semester per course (limited to 2 courses per semester), with no support for health care cost and no job security, it’s quite understandable why many of the adjunct faculty would like to be allowed the option to unionize.
For the uninitiated, unionizing would allow the adjuncts to negotiate with the administration over conditions of their employment, rather than having to do so individually. The administration has taken a stance against the unionization. It has mentioned it’s representation of adjuncts in the Faculty Senate and more recently a small pay increase as a sign of its responsiveness to adjunct professors’ concerns. Unfortunately the pay increase is less than virtuous.
It is a textbook example of unethical union busting behavior. Rather than allow employees to unionize, organizations provide a minimal pay increase to seem accommodating while avoiding the main issue: the ability to negotiate employment conditions in large groups. Such unethical behavior stains the “ethical” reputation in business the university widely publicizes.
In our coursework we constantly talk about companies that greatly invest in their employees, such as Google or ones that greatly value employee teamwork and transparency, such as Whole Foods. We’ve learned that successful organizations look at all stakeholders and by investing in their employees, they improve the product or service they provide.
Investing in 40% of Bentley faculty will have returns for the Bentley community for years to come. The university should not take a stance against adjunct unionization and should instead seek to empower employees in and out of the classroom.
Many students may be concerned that allowing adjuncts to unionize will inevitably increase student tuition. However, a special study titled “Academic Excess, Executive Compensation at Leading Private Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts” cites excessive six figure salaries as a cause of increasing tuition at private universities. Bentley has raised our tuition every year but continues to maintain a great disparity of income between administrators and their lowest paid employees – adjuncts included.
The university should be spending more money on professors in our classes and less time concerned with stopping the tide of recent unionizing successes in other schools, such as Tufts and GW. Bentley should be at the forefront of running its own business ethically before it starts preaching to the world about how great it is at teaching it. Investing in its faculty is the best thing the school can do to support students and we should all take a stand to support Adjunct Professor unionization.