Over 350 adjunct professors at the California College of the Arts, a renowned private nonprofit art college with campuses in San Francisco and Oakland, have become the newest members of SEIU Local 1021. They also represent the third private nonprofit college in the Bay Area to form an adjunct faculty union through the national Adjunct Action campaign, joining over 21,000 adjuncts who are already members of SEIU. Adjuncts at Mills College and San Francisco Art Institute voted to join SEIU 1021 this spring.
“We are proud of the good work we have done, and excited to continue building our union. Now we look ahead to addressing faculty working conditions and student learning conditions—the basis of our institution,” says Carol Manahan, a senior adjunct professor in the Critical Studies department at CCA, who helped lead their union organizing campaign.
At CCA, as at so many other colleges and universities across the country, adjuncts make up a solid majority of the faculty. Yet unlike tenured and tenure track professors, they are hired on a semester-by-semester basis, leaving the many who depend on teaching as their primary source of income in constant uncertainty as to their employment status and making it difficult if not impossible to plan for the future. Their pay is also a fraction of what tenure-track professors earn (broken down by course), and most are ineligible for benefits. This comes at a time when student debt has reached all-time record highs and tuition is more expensive than ever.
Unionization has already provided adjuncts at many institutions of higher education throughout the country, including at Georgetown, George Washington University and American University, to name just a few, improved compensation, increased access to benefits and measures of job security such as longer-term contracts. Perhaps most importantly, it provides adjunct faculty—a majority of instructors in American colleges and universities—a much-needed voice in the governance of their institution, which is crucial and allows them to become more fully integrated members of the communities at those schools. This increased stability and participation is a direct benefit to the students they teach, mentor and build relationships with.
“I look forward to joining the whole college community to work together on what’s best for everyone,” said Eduardo Pineda, an adjunct professor in the Diversity Studies department at CCA.