Ryan Eckes, PA
I’ve been an adjunct professor of English at Temple University, the Community College of Philadelphia, Rowan University and Philadelphia University over the last decade. I’m proud to have been a member of those academic communities. I’m just as proud to be a member of United Academics of Philadelphia, a union of adjunct professors.
Adjunct professors are integral members of college communities. We teach classes. We help shape departments. But our designation as adjunct means we are not considered full members of the faculty. That means our interactions with our universities are often different than those of other professors.
And, because many of us work part-time or are employed short-term, it can be harder for us to share information and come together to negotiate for better pay or benefits. That’s why I was part of the organizing committee at Temple University, where adjunct professors recently voted to unionize. I’m so proud of that work and what it enables adjunct professors to do.
Submitting Temple University’s adjunct professors’ union election petition to the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board was one of the most exciting moments of my professional career.
Academia is often thought of as one of the most secure careers, but that’s not always the case for adjunct professors; 22 percent of them live below the poverty line. Our union is dedicated to making higher education sustainable for the 15,000 adjunct professors who teach in Philadelphia-area colleges. We are organizing to build a collective voice, community and resources for a vital, yet underrepresented, majority of university faculties.
Higher education is the key to a brighter future for students and for our country. It is a public good that is best delivered with a secure faculty who earn the wages we need to sustain ourselves and our families.
I’ve worked hard to see my colleagues earn that security. That security should not be threatened by big money special interest and corporate CEOs who have no business in politics or on campuses.