Union movement on the rise for Ithaca College's part-time faculty

January 29, 2015 by Brianna Pennella

Since Spring 2014, adjunct professors at Ithaca College have joined the fight for unionization on their campus. Following the announcement of TC3’s proposed union, IC part-time faculty took steps to create their union with Adjunct Action, a project of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 200 United. 

The college has become increasingly dependent on the work and support provided by part-time faculty members. Many of these professors possess the same degree and education as their tenure-track peers, as well as the same responsibility to the students. Over 200 members of the educational staff at the Ithaca College are considered part-time, making up 35-40% of the faculty. The growing number of adjunct professors at universities as a whole may seem like the cheaper way out for schools with stretched budgets, but could ultimately end up costing more in the long run, according to a statement released by Chris Machanoff, organizer of the unionization movement at IC.

The issue at the heart of the movement, organizers say, is one of fairness: compensation should equal the work put in for these faculty members. The union organizers are hopeful that the results will be positive for the administration and overall community, as well as the professors themselves. 

"A union would provide us with a voice and the mechanism to address, revisit, and adapt to issues as they arise," said Brody Burroughs, part-time Art Lecturer, in the recent press release.

The conversation about unionization is taking place in colleges across the country with notable success in the LA region and Vermont. With inspiration from these schools, as well as support from full-time Ithaca College faculty members, the union plans to file their election with the National Labor Relations Board in the coming months. 

Michael Smith, an Associate Professor of History at Ithaca College, showed his support for the organization by stating, "as a full-time faculty member, I fully support the right of IC's part-time faculty to collectively bargain for fair wages and better working conditions.”

The date for the union election hasn't yet been specified, will be selected by the NLRB.

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