Adjunct staff joins union

Eastern Michigan University adjunct instructors gained representation last Tuesday. Ballots proved the majority of voters agreed with the proposal of a union between adjunct professors and the Eastern Michigan University Federation of Teachers. The result was 216 yes votes and 41 no, with five challenged ballots among the total 262.

Adjunct instructors, also known as part-time lecturers, previously hadn’t been assigned to any union for means of representation.The Eastern Michigan University Federation of Teachers describes itself as a local chapter of the American Federation of Teachers that represents more than 100 full-time lecturers and library staff on the main campus.

According to a release, those who are represented by the American Association of University Professors, tenure-track faculty union and full-time lecturers will not be included in the new unit. Visiting professors, doctoral fellows and teaching assistants also would not be included in the new unit.

Paul Horvath, a part-time instructor for EMU, has been very involved in the contemplation of assignment for adjuncts and expressed his approval.

“I think it’s fabulous,” he said. “We were the only unrepresented group of employees on campus, and now to have that representation for every single lecturer is a real stepping stone for employees as well as students.”

As for the EMUFT, the organization is thrilled to be expanding its reach to part-time educators. In a statement, it said, “The promise that we made over 10 years ago to bring all lecturers into our union has been fulfilled.”

The decision to unite with part-time instructors will affect EMU’s environment as a whole.

“Adjuncts haven’t always been heard as far as course development and teaching offerings,” Horvath said. “By gaining representation, they now have a voice in how and what we are teaching, which will ultimately benefit students.”

The EMUFT describes the results as “a great victory for our union.”

Though the part-time teachers have been talking about joining a union for years, the vote was finally enacted. Collective bargaining will not begin immediately because the unions are already locked in a current system, though the change has come as a relief to many adjuncts.Because the part-time staff works on a semester-by-semester basis, many are happy to now be included in a permanent part of EMU’s development.

“They see the students and their needs about just as much as the professors do,” Kailey Schneemann, an EMU student said. “I’m glad they can be a part of the decision process for what we’re learning. I think it’s valuable.”

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