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April 2019

 

Door knocking
Dante Morelli

 

 
   

For many higher education unions, the loss of adjuncts as members has become an issue of concern in light of the Janus v. AFSCME decision last summer. This Supreme Court case allows for former agency-fee payers to fully withdrawal from public sector unions.

This affected the FA in addition to other locals as our membership among adjuncts fell below 100%. Strong membership allows us to negotiate for a fair contract and other rights afforded to us as members.

Over the winter break, I attended NYSUT’s Member Organizing Institute (MOI) training in Syracuse. This training was developed by NYSUT for higher education members, specifically to get adjuncts who are nonmembers to become members of their respective unions. The training consisted of individuals from Professional Staff Congress (PSC, representing the CUNY schools), United University Professions (UUP, representing the SUNY four-year institutions), and members from the other NYSUT-affiliated community colleges from around the state.

The goal of the MOI training is to educate and equip participants with the tools they need to go door to door to meet and engage nonmembers about the benefits of being a member of their respective union. For the past two months, I have been knocking on the doors of adjuncts who are not currently members of the FA. The number of nonmembers is approximately 10% of all adjuncts in our local (all of our full-time members are in good standing with the FA).

After conducting six trips of door knocking, I learned quite a bit. First, people were often unfortunately not home. I was able to engage a few adjuncts in conversation and they expressed their ideas, comments, and concerns about the FA and the college. One concern expressed by adjuncts was the diminishing of full-time teaching lines at the college. Also, some adjuncts were unaware that they were not members in good standing and were thankful for the benefits provided to members.

To date I have successfully enrolled six members which is still behind our goal of 100% membership. I will continue to knock on doors to engage the adjuncts who are not members. I will be listening to concerns that matter to them and will discuss the benefits of being a member of the FA, such as representation during any potential Title IX or disciplinary meetings. The FA has worked hard over decades to procure rights and benefits for members, including protection of seniority rights, the ability to teach or work nine contact hours per semester, competitive adjunct pay rates, a guaranteed interview (with the appropriate credentials) for a full-time vacancy, and access to adjunct development and professional development funds.

A larger membership means we have strength and solidarity in advocating for issues that matter to all of our members and, by extension, to our students—especially when we are negotiating a new contract.