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Dear Colleagues,

In the course of our recent outreach efforts, many of our colleagues have expressed a desire for more time to discuss and learn more about unionization before voting. We want to make sure that everyone has an opportunity to sort through the facts and make an informed decision.

Accordingly, we have decided to postpone the election for the time being so that more of us can have our questions answered. We will continue the process as soon as there has been ample opportunity for everyone to have their concerns addressed.

The Academic Workers Association is fighting for the rights of the academic workforce in the Pittsburgh area. Our members value education and scholarship, and together we seek the institutional support needed for best teaching students.

The casualization of academic labor creates hardships, undermines teachers’ ability to provide for students, and runs counter to the values taught in class. Adjunct faculty members have little to no job security, earn extremely low pay for the amount of work they do, and most do not have access to health insurance. In order to address these ongoing problems, a group of adjunct faculty at Duquesne University formed the Adjunct Faculty Association, later renamed the Academic Workers Association, affiliated with the United Steelworkers. We’ve been gratified by support and encouragement from adjuncts at various institutions, as well as from tenured faculty members and academic organizations. We hope you will also consider joining our efforts.

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Chatham's part-time faculty moves forward on union election

June 6, 2016 4:17 PM

Photo Courtesy of Chatham University
Campbell Chapel on the campus Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA.

By Daniel Moore / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Part-time faculty at Chatham University will have three weeks beginning this month to decide whether they want to unionize — though organizers made it clear they still want the school to extend ballots to full-time faculty as well.

The United Steelworkers, which has been organizing faculty members at the Shadyside school, announced this afternoon that school administrators have agreed to the terms of an election beginning

Adjunct Unemployment Compensation Initiative (AUCI)

Adjunct Unemployment Compensation Initiative (AUCI) is motivated by a conviction that when adjunct faculty are unemployed through no fault of their own they are entitled to unemployment compensation, just like other workers.

The law prohibits teachers from collecting unemployment compensation over breaks if they have a “reasonable assurance” of employment following the break, but this law was clearly written with K-12 teachers in mind. Colleges and Universities clearly operate year-round, so the summer is not a “break.” This means that an adjunct faculty member who wants to teach during the summer but is not offered courses has been laid off, and is therefore entitled to unemployment compensation.

Even when an adjunct faculty member has an offer of courses for the Fall, that offer does not provide “reasonable assurance” of anything since it is contingent on enrollment or other factors that are beyond the control of the faculty member or of the employer. That is not an offer but an indication that an offer may be made if enough students enroll. Adjunct faculty thus have “reasonable assurance” of nothing. This summer, lawyers from the USW will provide support to adjunct faculty members in Western Pennsylvania who want to apply for unemployment compensation. If you’d like to be contacted about participating in the AUCI, please fill out the form below, and someone will get in touch with you.

The Adjunct Unemployment Compensation Initiative is a project of the Metro Volunteer Organizing Committee (MVOC) of the Adjunct Faculty Association of the United Steelworkers (AFA-USW). We are dedicated to strengthening the Pittsburgh region’s adjunct faculty community by organizing and finding creative ways to engage and support the educators who teach a majority of the college students in the area.

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