By Julian Routh | News Editor
U.S. Congressman Mike Doyle and United Steelworkers international Vice President Fred Redmond urged Duquesne earlier this week to recognize the adjunct faculty union.
In a rally outside the federal building Monday afternoon, the two officials addressed issues of workers rights, particularly those allegedly violated by Pittsburgh health care provider UPMC.
Doyle (D- Forest Hills) said Duquesne should “give [adjuncts] some security and some benefits.”
“I was amazed how many adjunct professors [there are], the percentage there is to full-tenured professors and the fact they are only paid per class,” Doyle said. “Many of them, they have no offices, and they have to, literally, every time when their class is over, they don’t know if they are ever going to be retained again.”
The Adjunct Faculty Association of the United Steelworkers and the University are currently awaiting a ruling by the National Labor Relations Board on whether Duquesne is exempt from recognizing the union. The University rejected a proposal by the union to bargain outside of NLRB jurisdiction in October, according to adjunct English instructor Robin Sowards.
United Steelworkers international vice president Fred Redmond said Duquesne needs to “share the prosperity” with its adjunct faculty.
“At Duquesne University, to everyone’s surprise, and to everyone’s astonishment, we have an administration over there which pays its administrator $50,000 – I’m sorry – $350,000 a year, while the students pay $42,000 a year, while they keep the adjunct professors living in near-poverty,” Redmond said to the crowd Monday.
In an e-mail, Duquesne spokeswoman Bridget Fare responded to the comments made by Doyle and Redmond. Fare said universities across the nation rely “too heavily” on part-time faculty members, and that Duquesne is addressing this.
“In recent years [Duquesne] has adopted a more aggressive approach than most institutions to address this concern by both hiring more full-time faculty and by raising the level of compensation that part-time instructors receive – from a minimum of $2100 per class just a few years ago to $3500 today,” Fare said.
Fare also said the issue of adjunct unionization is not about compensation, but Duquesne’s First Amendment rights.
“Our fundamental concern is protection of our Catholic mission in the classroom from interference by unions and governments,” Fare said.
Sowards, who is “100 percent confident the NLRB will rule in our favor,” said Duquesne officials can provide no examples of how the adjunct union would interfere with the classroom.
“We have no interest in what people do in the classroom,” Sowards said. “We are interested in providing people with the support to make them more effective in the classroom.”
To read more about the ongoing battle between Duquesne University and its adjunct faculty, click the following links:
Vojtko remembered for pride, eloquence
DU slammed over treatment of adjunct
Details emerge on adjunct’s final months