Fight for 15 Rally

Credit: The All-Nite Images/Flickr

Do you want fries with that?

Employees of fast-food restaurants and other low-paid workers held demonstrations in cities across the country on 15 April to demand a living wage of $15 an hour. Among the home health aides, cleaners, and occupants of other poverty-level occupations who also took to the streets was a “significant number” of nontenure-track college and university teachers, Inside Higher Ed reports.

The adjunct faculty members participated in “Fight for 15” protests organized by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) to demand a living wage. While the hourly workers demanded $15 an hour, adjuncts pressed for $15,000 per course, several times what most colleges and universities now pay their nontenure-track teachers and which union leaders admit is a “bold” goal, according to another Inside Higher Ed article.

Part-time faculty are more likely to be in poverty than the average Americans, ranging from 9% in Nevada to 43% in Maine.

–Faculty Forward fact sheet

“Part-time faculty are more likely to be in poverty than the average Americans, ranging from 9% in Nevada to 43% in Maine,” according to a fact sheet from SEIU’s Faculty Forward campaign. “1 in 5 part-time faculty members live below the poverty line. 22% of part-time faculty live below the poverty line, while 14.5% of Americans live in poverty (2013).”

Beyond the economic issue, demonstrating adjuncts were concerned that “teaching at the university level is something that is being rapidly devalued and deprofessionalized,” said demonstrator and adjunct Cole Bellamy, who teaches at Saint Leo University in Florida, as quoted by Inside Higher Ed. “And at the same time we’ve got ever-rising tuition, administrative glut and executive salaries. … This really is a battle for the soul of the university.”

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