Dear Bentley Adjunct Faculty Colleagues:
As you are probably aware, we lost last fall’s union election by only two votes. Since then the situation of adjuncts at Bentley has remained unchanged, and in fact, while all staff and all other faculty received a raise this spring, adjuncts did not. We are beginning a campaign to schedule another election for early 2015, and we hope that you will join with us.
Bentley, along with most other universities, has adopted a model that consigns a significant amount of teaching to contingent and part-time faculty. This model evolved over the last thirty years without meaningful input from faculty or any involvement from adjunct faculty themselves, but it has redefined teaching and the role of faculty in the academy. Gone are stable teaching positions with benefits and opportunities for professional development, replaced instead with a contingent workforce and a university with little investment in what should be the core focus of any institution of higher education: learning.
We believe it’s time to work towards restructuring this model of higher education.
Professors and adjuncts are turning to collective bargaining to challenge the model and change it so that it values teaching and does not marginalize contingent and part-time faculty. College faculty unions aren’t new, but they are growing to meet a crisis in higher education.
The problems in higher education have become so acutely visible that more and more adjuncts are turning to their colleagues and saying that we can’t simply hope for change, we have to create it. And there are thousands of highly educated people just like you who have decided to form a union.
All instructors — including full-time and tenured faculty — at the University of Massachusetts have a union and have made significant strides at the bargaining table over the years. They are no less professional or committed to quality teaching, scholarship and professional practice because they engage in collective bargaining. In fact, they are using collective bargaining to help define their role in the academy and redefine their relationship to both their universities and professional fields.
Furthermore, over 2,000 part-time and contingent faculty at Tufts, Lesley and Northeastern have united in SEIU/Adjunct Action in the past year. Tufts part-time faculty are finding that collective bargaining is creating a space for positive conversations with administrators, and we believe it’s time for Bentley to become part of the forward-looking trend in higher education.
A union is a way for us to strengthen Bentley and make it a better place for all of us, and we believe it is the only way we will make any headway to improve the working conditions of adjuncts. We ask you to think seriously about supporting a union at Bentley. Our effort to collectively bargain for better wages, job security and improvements that affect instruction is gaining more traction every day as we plan for a new vote early in the spring semester, and we encourage fellow adjuncts to join this effort.
All professors teaching at Bentley bring high-level training and real-world experience to their classrooms. Adjunct professors are no different, and that is why we deserve the fair pay, benefits and working conditions that truly recognize the education, skill, experience and value we bring to this university. If you believe it’s time to put Bentley among schools at the leading edge of this national movement for beneficial change, we urge you to support the upcoming vote through which we can form a union. Please keep in mind that we are all in this together.
As you consider the issues, we hope you will contact us. We want to hear your concerns and questions as we move into the fall semester.
Joan Atlas, English and Media Studies
Jack Dempsey, English and Media Studies
Thomas Finn, English and Media Studies
Robert Hannigan, History
Mary Hartman, Finance
Curtis Holland, Sociology
Tom Johnson, History
Barbara Nash, Natural and Applied Sciences
Clarissa Sawyer, Natural and Applied Sciences
Jonathan Todd, Mathematical Sciences