- Associated Press - Thursday, April 24, 2014

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Temporary faculty members at Macalester College took the first step to form a union Thursday as campus organizers filed a petition for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board.

It’s the first group of adjunct college professors in Minnesota to attempt to unionize since an organizing campaign was launched in the Twin Cities in January, the Star Tribune (https://strib.mn/1fvmU7Y) reported.

SooJin Pate, a member of the organizing committee who teaches American studies, said temporary hires now make up nearly half the faculty at Macalester, a private St. Paul school where tuition alone costs $45,000 this year.

Part-time adjuncts at the school are paid as little as $5,000 a course with no job security and few benefits, Pate said. Full-time faculty members, who typically teach five courses, start at $50,000 to $61,000 a year plus benefits, according to the university.

“There’s a huge disparity,” said Pate, 37, who has been an adjunct for six years.

“We love our jobs,” she said, but not the pay and working conditions.

Macalester Provost Kathleen Murray said she was surprised by the move. She noted that Macalester pays adjunct instructors more than many colleges.

“I don’t know what all the implications would be for starting a union here,” Murray said. “It is not part of the culture of this place and I’m curious to know what they think it will actually gain.”

Under federal law, organizers must obtain signatures from at least 30 percent of the proposed bargaining unit to trigger a union election. At Macalester, organizers say they have exceeded that number but would not say how many have signed up.

College administrators say they rely on adjuncts to fill temporary teaching gaps, as well as to control costs.


Information from: Star Tribune, https://www.startribune.com

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