Last month, students and faculty around the nation walked out in the middle of their classes. The same day, the Mills community met to discuss improving the treatment of adjuncts on campus.
Adjuncts and their supporters met to discuss the state of the adjuncts’ bargaining for better working conditions on Feb. 25, which was National Adjunct Walkout Day (NAWD). NAWD originated with an anonymous professor at San Jose State University in Fall 2014. This day gives adjuncts and students the opportunity to demonstrate to their institutions changes they feel need to be made to the treatment of non-tenured faculty.
Mills Adjunct Professor David Buuck led the meeting and explained why having a day such as NAWD is important.
“It’s really part of a national push for a variety of kinds of faculty and adjuncts in general who are pushing back against the corporatization of higher education,” Buuck said.
After unionizing in Spring 2014, Mills adjuncts teamed up with Service Employees International Union (SEIU) to create a bargaining team. The team’s priorities include job security, better benefits and a larger role for adjuncts in faculty governance.
Professor Stephanie Young, a member of the bargaining team, spoke at the meeting on the progress being made in talks with the administration. According to Young, the bargaining team is using models of contracts from East Coast universities the SEIU helped negotiate. In addition, she said the team is working with the California Faculty Association (CFA), a group of 24,000 faculty members in California who helped the California State University system with their adjuncts’ contracts.
The team will also ask that faculty get seniority based on the total number of classes they have taught with a clear path for promotion, according to Young.
Celeste Pedterson, a SEIU negotiator working with the bargaining team, said in future meetings with the administration that student input would be helpful.
“[When] we start getting counter proposals … I feel like that would be a strategic time for the Mills community to come and show they’re supporting adjuncts and support what they are fighting for,” Pedterson said.
Jonathan Krapf, a representative from the CFA, came to express the CFA’s support for the adjuncts’ movement. According to Krapf, it is essential to have union members at the bargaining table.
Krapf also said that unions allow adjuncts to have more voice in enhancing working conditions which would lead to a better learning environment for students.
Students also attended the meeting to show support for adjunct professors at the College. Junior Kendall Anderson said that she found the treatment of adjuncts at Mills to be wrong. Anderson also said that one of her reasons for attending Mills was its professors and social justice mission.
“While in general I believe Mills works to promote this mission, its treatment of the adjunct professor goes against that,” Anderson said. “The college does face daunting budgetary issues, [but] I urge Mills to look into a way to grant the many long-time adjunct professors the tenure track they deserve.”
Bargaining between adjunct faculty and the College’s administration will continue through the spring. Open meetings regarding contract negotiations will be held every Monday afternoon as the adjunct faculty of Mills continues to plan ways to get the community involved in their cause.