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May 2018


What “right to work” means for adjuncts
Kevin McCoy



In last month’s adjunct update, I discussed the impending Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court decision.  The article details how a negative decision could impact SCCC adjunct salary and benefits if the FA fails to sign up 50% of the membership and is decertified by the county. If our union is decertified, the college would not be obligated to provide the adjunct salary and benefits provided in the FA contract.

In this article, I highlight the working conditions of adjuncts in right-to-work states. These are states that do not require employees to join a union and/or pay union dues. The Janus case could make all fifty states right to work.  In her 2013 Inside Higher Education article “Union Raises for Adjuncts,” Colleen Flaherty compares the salary and working conditions of adjuncts that are unionized versus non-unionized. Here are some of her findings:

  • Median pay per course was 25 percent higher for adjuncts where part-time faculty had union representation ($3,100 on average, compared to $2,475).

  • At some non-unionized institutions there was not a salary scale and adjunct pay for the same workload varied.

  • Adjuncts in non-unionized colleges and universities often had no job security and could be removed without “just cause.”

  • Colleges and universities without a union often had no standard method of observing and evaluating adjunct faculty. At some universities student feedback forms were the sole method of assessment for adjuncts.

  • Adjunct faculty that were represented by a union were more likely to have professional development opportunities.

  • A key adjunct benefit for many union contracts is a transparent method of assigning courses.

Many unionists have renamed “right to work” states as “right to work for less” states. If there is a negative Janus decision, you most likely will be receiving literature from anti-union groups urging you not to join the union. 

When you receive this literature, you have to make the decision whether you want the salary and benefits of a union contract or if you would rather have the “right to work for less!” I'd strongly encourage all adjuncts to choose the former and complete the NYSUT Membership pledge form* to remain an FA member.

* Where it asks you to type our local name, just put our local number: 39-045.