Attention American University students: Some of the folks who compile your report cards will soon carry union cards.
In a month-long election administered by the National Labor Relations Board, 379 AU adjuncts voted to be represented by Service Employees International Union Local 500. 284 voted against. AU joins about a dozen U.S. private college campuses where adjunct professors have unionized, most in the last decade.
At AU and elsewhere, many adjuncts complain about inadequate wages, poor job security, and a lack of respect on campus; some see unionization as a way to address their grievances.
“Universities recruit adjuncts to cut costs, even as admissions are up, tuition is up, administrative overhead is way up, building construction is up, everything is up except pay for instructors,” says Mark Plane, a part-time anthropology professor at AU and a supporter of SEIU. “This is a moment in which people are saying ‘enough is enough.’”