Adjunct Professors at TC3 seek to unionize to secure their jobs

November 4, 2014 by Brianna Pennella

On October 22nd, the adjunct instructors of Tompkins Cortland Community College (TC3) took their stand and sent a letter to president Carl Haynes expressing their desire to form a union. The Tompkins County Workers Center is encouraging the community to help.

The Tompkins and Cortland area is home to a huge number of college- and university-employed educators, across multiple public and private academic institutions, and they vary in title. The hope of these adjunct professors is to have a stronger position within their respective educational communities and they consider job security a top factor in deciding to unionize.

Tompkins Cortland Community College.Tompkins Cortland Community College.The adjuncts of TC3 have filed their authorization cards with the Public Employees Relations Board, and hope the college's administration will choose to voluntarily recognize the union without a costly legal dispute. Adjunct professors teach over half of the classes at TC3. The unionizing unit -- known as the TC3 Adjunct Association --reported the number at 56%, which is higher than the national average of about 48%. By comparison, Ithaca College has about 31% of its teaching staff in the categories of part-time non-faculty teachers or non-tenure-track faculty, and the number at Cornell University is only 6%.

The union itself has a strong backing from over 100 adjunct instructors at the TC3, which has more than 200 adjunct instructors. Many of these educators have to seek other supplementary employment due to the lack of consistency and benefits that an adjunct position offers.

In a press release from the association, Diane Williams, a biology adjunct instructor for over 22 years at TC3, stated that she "[doesn’t] see forming a union as anti-management but rather as pro-adjunct and pro-college." She has a positive relationship with the administration but still deals with uncertainty from semester to semester. Many adjunct-instructed classes are cancelled or reassigned with short notice, according to another adjunct instructor, Nancy Crane, who was quoted in Ithaca Week. She went on to discuss the stress this creates for herself and others in her position.

The Tompkins County Workers Center is now urging action from the community with an open request to members and supporters to "show up" in support of the TC3 Adjuncts Association. They urge area residents to send an e-mail to the TC3 Board and TC3 President, Carl Haynes, encouraging the college's voluntary recognition of the association.

The Tompkins County Workers Center, which coordinates efforts around the area for workers at all levels, asks that individuals take action before November 5th, and also plans to show up at the next scheduled TC3 Board meeting on November 20th.

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