The fight for living wages, benefits, and union representation goes far beyond what we do here at USF-GAU. For the past year, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has spearheaded campaigns for fast food and home health care workers. Working alongside these service providers, SEIU has been fighting for unionization and $15/hour minimum wage levels. So far, this Fight For $15 has raised solidarity and made some solid gains across the country.
SEIU is now turning its attention toward another sector of underpaid, ill-provided, under-appreciated labor: adjuncts.
Several weeks ago, SEIU launched its Faculty Forward campaign, which aims to guarantee adjuncts $15,000 “total compensation including both salary and benefits” per course.
Let’s compare this goal with the reality for many adjuncts. Adjuncts, on average, make less than $3,000 per course. Making a livable wage as an adjunct requires teaching a tremendous number of courses per term–well over what nearly all higher ed institutions consider full-time teaching loads–without nearly as many benefits as tenure-track and other non-contingent academic labor receive. Adjuncts often juggle teaching positions at multiple schools, typically without any guarantee of job security.
U.S. higher education relies on contingent academic labor more than ever. Higher education institutions are profiting from exploitative practices that extract as much labor as possible from adjuncts while providing minimal benefits.
The fight for fair adjunct labor practices–livable wages, benefits, and union representation–is not only connected to the fight for fair graduate assistant labor practices and the direction of higher education: it’s part of a bigger fight over the quality of life in the United States. In this light, the labor conditions for adjuncts, fast food workers, and home healthcare workers–among many others–are all connected.
Over the next couple months, we here at GAU will be working alongside other organizations and with other labor activists to stand in solidarity with adjuncts, home healthcare workers, and fast food workers–and to truly bring the Fight For $15 to Tampa. These efforts will culminate with a rally on, of course, April 15.
Stay tuned for updates and announcements about Fight For $15 meetings, events, and rallies on our blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Acti(v)list. (And, if you aren’t subscribed to our social media channels–now’s the perfect time to do so!)