Adjunct professors at The College of Saint Rose have voted overwhelmingly to join adjunct faculty at schools across the country in SEIU/Adjunct Action. The victory is a step forward for adjuncts in New York State working to improve the working conditions of the increasing numbers of part-time and contingent faculty in higher education.
Saint Rose adjuncts will join SEIU Local 200United as part of Adjunct Action, a project of the Service Employees International Union that includes over 21,000 adjuncts across the country. The final vote count was 175 yes to 61 no.
Alyssa Colton, an adjunct instructor of English, said: “We would not have been able to do this so quickly and thoroughly without the hard work of the St. Rose adjuncts, full-time faculty, and alumni, students, and community leaders like Mayor Kathy Sheehan, Councilmembers Judd Krasher and Leah Golby, and Assemblywoman Pat Fahy, who have been supporting us the entire time. The students and the surrounding community stand to gain as much as adjuncts from improved conditions for part-timers and we are excited to get to work making these vital improvements.”
Throughout the Capital District and across the country, adjunct faculty continue to fight to address the crisis in higher education: a marginalized teaching faculty, quickly rising tuition, and record levels of student debt.
Bradley Russell, an adjunct instructor of Anthropology and member of the organizing committee, reflected on the victory: “This vote is historic for the College of Saint Rose. It is extremely gratifying to see how many of our fellow adjuncts stood up and made it clear that they want a decisive voice on campus. For the first time, adjunct faculty members will now have a well-earned say in our own futures. I look forward to working with the administration to improve teaching conditions, the student experience and the college as a whole. We trust that this is the beginning of a collective bargaining process that will move us into a positive new day for the college. It is time to come together for real and lasting change. Today Saint Rose took an important step to live up to its well-known commitment to social justice. I could not be more pleased with the results to date and anticipate great things ahead.”
St. Rose faculty are following in the footsteps of adjuncts across the country. The University of the District of Columbia, Antioch University in Seattle, Hamline University, San Francisco Art Institute, and Northeastern University have all recently voted to join SEIU/Adjunct Action. Supporters of the St. Rose vote for unionization see this as vital first step to strengthening voices and improving working conditions for all part-time faculty in the Capital District.
“This vote is a heartening reminder that change is possible when enough people decide the time has come,” said Jazmine Gabriel, an adjunct instructor of philosophy who has taught at the Sage Colleges and Siena College along with St Rose. “Speaking up takes courage, and the adjunct faculty members at St. Rose have demonstrated true courage by participating in this process and committing to envisioning and designing a better future. May this vote serve as an inspiration and example to the many of us who face similar challenges at other colleges in the Capital District. St. Rose now has the opportunity to be a leader in the community by helping to set the standards for fair working conditions through trust and collaboration with the bargaining unit.”