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Adjunct Professors Seek Better Working Conditions

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Friday, April 8, 2016   

SEATTLE - Contingent faculty, including adjunct professors, are holding a conference Saturday at South Seattle College to discuss the mounting difficulties part-time instructors face at work.

Almost 70 percent of college professors across the United States are contingent faculty. Part-time instructors sometimes rely on public assistance and unemployment benefits in order to make ends meet.

"We have professional college teachers who have master's degrees in their field who have very little income, are on food stamps, or things like that," said Michael Boggess, who has been an adjunct English professor at Pierce College in Lakewood for 15 years.

Boggess said teachers can be on the brink of homelessness if one of their classes is cut. Adjuncts often shuffle between campuses and, while the pay scale for courses varies from college to college, many live on wages near the poverty line.

Adjunct professors increasingly are joining unions for protection at work. The United Academics of Philadelphia, which also represents full-time faculty and will have representatives at the conference on Saturday, is one of the big unions attempting to join isolated unions from different colleges together to create a citywide coalition of contingent faculty. Boggess, who also is a member of the American Federation of Teachers, said that unified voice also gives part-timers an opportunity to participate in governance at the places where they work.

"We have to work hard at the bargaining tables at these different community colleges in order to have stipends to go to meetings where the decisions in the departments are made," he said, "so that adjunct faculty can have a voice in the policies of the college."

The Contingent Faculty Issues Conference will be held beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Georgetown campus of South Seattle College.


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