Adjuncts at Schenectady County Community College have overwhelmingly agreed to unionize, Service Employees International Union announced.
More than 60 percent of the adjuncts at the college have signed cards saying they want to join the union, so no election will need to be held.
They have asked SCCC Acting President Martha Asselin to voluntarily recognize their union.
More than 250 adjuncts work at SCCC, making up nearly two-thirds of the faculty, according to SEIU. (Meanwhile, SCCC has officially described the number of adjuncts at 35 percent of the teaching staff.)
Although they do the same work as their full-time colleagues, the part-time teachers are not paid as much, given office pace or guaranteed a certain number of classes each semester. They want pay parity and a fair reappointment process, they said.
They have the support of the college’s full-time professors, who are already unionized.
“To improve the conditions in which we teach is to improve the conditions in which students learn. Since I care about the conditions in which our students learn, I wholeheartedly support SCCC’s adjuncts’ efforts to unionize,” said Eileen Abrahams, English professor and president of the faculty union. She issued a statement alongside the SEIU announcement.
SCCC issued a statement indicating it is willing to consider the request, with one condition.
“The Schenectady County Community College Board of Trustees is currently awaiting formal proof of majority status from SEIU, the organizing group,” said Board of Trustees Chairwoman Ann Fleming Brown. “Once the status and accompanying proposal is presented, the board is ready to review and vote.”
Adjuncts took pains to describe their unionizing as a way to improve teaching.
“Through unionization, adjuncts can lead the charge to help re-establish learning and instruction as the true priorities of all educational institutions,” Engligh adjunct John Peabody said in a statement.
Biology adjunct Jessica Errico said adjuncts could not “contribute 100 percent” without a union.
Other adjuncts emphasized that they deserve better working conditions.
“I am constantly impressed by the quality and dedication I see in my fellow adjunct professors. They are an exceptionally valuable human resource,” said math adjunct Mike Conte.
SEIU is now representing more than 22,000 adjuncts at colleges as diverse as The College of Saint Rose in Albany and Georgetown in Washington, D.C.