ALBANY, NY–On Thursday, July 10, nearly 180 adjunct professors at Albany’s College of Saint Rose requested an election from the National Labor Relations Board to form their union with Adjunct Action, a project of Service Employees International Union. Adjunct professors make up more than 50% of the faculty at Saint Rose but they are not afforded the same benefits as their full-time colleagues: a voice in their classrooms, a fair process for class reappointments, professional development, access to benefits, opportunities for full-time employment and fair wages.
Bradley Russell is an adjunct instructor of anthropology at Saint Rose and a member of the organizing committee at the college. “We are excited to join with other adjunct professors across the country who are organizing to win a voice on their campus and in their classrooms,” he said. “I am extremely gratified to see the robust support this organizing effort has received from my fellow adjuncts, full-time faculty and the public. I look forward to a productive process and dialogue with the school’s administration going forward.”
Across the country, adjunct faculty have successfully formed unions with Adjunct Action/SEIU, most recently at Northeastern University in Boston and Howard University in Washington, D.C. Adjunct professors constitute a majority of the instructional faculty at private colleges nationwide but go unrepresented in the shared governance of these colleges. While the presence of adjuncts on campus has grown dramatically in recent years, their pay has remained stagnant. At the same time, administrative compensation is higher than ever before and student loan debt recently surpassed $1 trillion nationwide.
Brian Cirmo is an adjunct instructor of art at Saint Rose and a member of the union organizing committee. “This is a very exciting and proud moment for me and my fellow Saint Rose adjuncts. We are hopeful that our hard work can lead us forward to a productive discourse with the administration,” he said. “As a Saint Rose alum, I am aware of the excellence this institution provides to thousands of students each year; my colleagues and I are a part of that excellence and deserve to be treated fairly and honorably. We are committed to working with the administration, full-time colleagues and the rest of the Saint Rose community to strengthen the livelihood of all faculty and to enrich the educational excellence of every student who graces our campus.”
Kathleen Crowley, Ph.D., is a professor of psychology at the college. She supports the adjuncts’ effort to organize. “As a full-time faculty member, I believe that giving adjunct professors the ability to bargain collectively with the administration of the College of Saint Rose is wholly consistent with the mission of the college and its tradition of commitment to the pursuit of social justice for all members of our community and our world,” she said. “Adjunct faculty at the college are vital contributors to the education of our students. They deserve to have a strong voice on campus, along with equitable wages, favorable working conditions, and the respect, admiration and gratitude of the entire college community.”
Pine Hills Councilwoman Leah Golby, who represents Albany’s 10th Ward, favors the adjuncts’ organizing efforts. “The College of Saint Rose has a reputation as a good neighbor that does the right thing,” she said. “Saint Rose provides great opportunities to its students and enhances the quality of life in our neighborhood and our city. I’ve spoken to a few adjunct professors who love their work, but also face significant challenges as adjuncts. I fully support their efforts to improve their own quality of life and form a union. I urge the Saint Rose administration to do the right thing by remaining neutral and allowing for a free and fair election.”
Once the adjuncts meet with the National Labor Relations Board, the NLRB will assign a date for the Union election.
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