This fall, for the first time, adjunct faculty where I teach are working under a Collective Bargaining Agreement. For the past couple weeks, and into next week, my local President and I have been attending adjunct faculty orientation sessions, introducing them to their new workplace rights and responsibilities, as well as to the benefits of union membership. I don’t do a “hard sell” but I do push union membership over fair share status.
In doing these sessions, there have been few overtly hostile responses. Mostly, it’s involved questions about the new evaluation procedures and processes. There are the occasional responses that leave me a bit nonplussed. For example, we’ve worked in what I believe to be strong intellectual property protections. Included among these are the notion that a faculty member’s class organization and individualized syllabus material (as opposed to the required information the College wants on syllabi), and the materials they produce for it, belong to the instructor and not the college. Although we may use the college’s learning management system as a “home base” in online courses, the way we choose to organize those courses and the materials we upload into the system belong to us. Anyway, I had someone angry they didn’t have access to a canned course and wouldn’t be compensated for preparing their own. This is not someone I expect to last long. Perhaps it’s someone who shouldn’t last long.
That’s not the point of the post, nor of its title, though. That’s captured in a conversation I had at the end of a session for nursing adjuncts:
Nurse: I was in a union when I worked at [Hospital]. I didn’t think it was worth it….I just want to be clear, you’ll be taking 1% of my pay?
Me: Or .8137% if you retain a fair share relationship and don’t join.
Nurse: I just hate to waste that money.
Me: I don’t think of it as wasting your money. After all, we negotiated a contract that has employment protections you’ve never had before.
Nurse: Oh, I don’t need those protections. I’m good at my job and I’m respected. It’s really sad that I’ll probably have to quite over this.