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March 2018


We must "hang together": What do we have to lose?
Kevin McCoy


  Ben Franklin quote

The last several issues of The WORD have had articles about the Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court Case. The cover article of this issue describes the recent organizing institute the FA hosted to help us prepare for the upcoming decision. In the article "Members speak out," members talk about why the FA is important in their lives. "It's about (academic) freedom: Why we should all stick with the union" is adjunct Michael Iasilli's take on how unions protect academic freedom. Finally, Sue DeMasi provides a historic perspective on unionism with her article on Frances Perkins, FDR's Secretary of Labor who fought for social security, a forty-hour work week, minimum wage, unemployment benefits, workers' compensation and the banning of child labor.

While all these articles are inspiring and point out the importance of staying united when being attacked, many adjuncts have asked what could be the worst thing that can happen if the Supreme Court decides in favor in Janus. The short answer is, we don’t know. Part of the answer depends on the details of the decision: Will workers have to opt in to be a union member or will they have to opt out? Will members have to join the union every year? Will unions still be required to fully support workers who are not dues paying members? Will unions be able to collect dues via payroll deduction?

One thing we know is that if our union membership dips below 50 percent, our union could be decertified, which means we would lose our contractual rights. Adjuncts could lose a long list of benefits, including the following:

  • Access to the EMHP Health Plan
  • Ability to join New York State Teachers Retirement System (TRS) and/or flexible benefit plan
  • Academic freedom
  • Access to AFT, NEA & NYSUT Member Benefits discounts
  • Class size limits
  • Faculty peer during observations
  • Competitive and fair compensation
  • Distance education provisions/protections
  • Due process (i.e., representation during disciplinary meetings and investigations)
  • Guaranteed interview during faculty searches
  • Inclusion in department meetings
  • Legal services
  • Professional development funding
  • Promotion
  • Reduced rates for dental services
  • Seniority rights
  • Sick days
  • Tuition reimbursement for SCCC courses
  • Tuition reimbursement for dependents

In April we are holding a general membership meeting on each campus and office hours on nights and weekends. We are asking members to show their commitment to the FA by signing a membership pledge card. We are also looking for volunteers to help our membership drive. 

If you have any questions or if you want to become more involved with the union, contact me at because, as Benjamin Franklin is attributed as having said at the signing of the Constitution, "We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately."