By Nora Callahan, Northeastern PSA USAS Local 115
Adjuncts at Northeastern have just joined the latest group of contingent faculty to secure a tentative agreement on their first union contract! Students, adjuncts and community allies have been working together tirelessly for the past four years on this campaign. Through vocal support, persistence, and multiple actions, together we were able to pressure the University into a tentative agreement with the adjunct bargaining committee. We fought back against our administration and the famous union-busting law firm Jackson Lewis and won, in an amazing show of student-worker power.
As a result of this long and hard-fought campaign, Northeastern adjuncts will see significant raises. They will be compensated for classes cancelled on short notice. They will now have a formal process to address workplace conflicts and access to a professional development fund. A first contract is a huge hurdle. Our administration did all they could to stifle the union effort and exhaust these academic laborers, but we won after 4 years of campaigning and over 15 months of bargaining!
The adjuncts began organizing for their union underground four years ago supported by the work of the Progressive StudentAlliance, USAS Local #115, and members of our coalition, the Empower Adjuncts Community Coalition, made up of 15 other student groups. We have been standing by our adjuncts through the voting drive and through bargaining. We delivered letters, we paid visits to our deans, we held public office hours to highlight adjuncts’ lack of offices and the lack of respect they receive from the administration. We showed up at bargaining sessions to let those at the bargaining table know who we support. We held teach-ins and did class wraps to let our peers know what was going on on their campus. We did flashmobs . We even occupied in our president’s office building and blocked the train at our school’s stop, arm in arm with community members, to say we will not accept low wages in our community.
Finally, early this semester the administration folded under threat of a strike, a student boycott and classes cancelled by supportive tenured professors. Northeastern is nothing without its students and the people who work to make our school successful. When we organize together we are powerful, and when we fight, we win!