Adjunct Professors

Adjunct professors at Robert Morris University (RMU) have voted overwhelmingly to form a collective bargaining unit to seek better wages, job security, and benefits.

Election results released Tuesday by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) show a faculty vote of 125-67 in favor of affiliating with the United Steel Workers (USW).

"I'm absolutely delighted by it," said Patricia Welsh Droz, who served on a six-member organizing committee of RMU instructors. "We're all delighted by it. But we're not surprised."

The continuing effort of Duquesne University adjunct professors to form a union got another boost this week.

The National Labor Relations Board denied Duquesne’s appeal opposing the effort; the university had asked for a religious exemption. But a similar case at Pacific Lutheran University set new criteria for qualifying as a religious institution.

United Steelworkers Organizer and Adjunct Professor at Duquesne, Robin Sowards, said the school doesn’t qualify, in part, because many professors don’t teach religious content.

Ph.D. Graduates Face a Difficult Job Market

Jan 21, 2015
Jens Schott Knudsen / Flickr

The Steel City is justifiably proud of its many universities, but with more education can come more problems.

People graduating with Ph.D.s and other advanced degrees face an employment crisis in today’s university and the larger economy.

Joining us to talk about their efforts in expanding the options for Pittsburghers with advanced degrees are Alexandra Oliver and anupama jain. They're local representatives for Versatile PhD, a business that fosters networking and professional development for people with graduate degrees who may want to explore non-academic work.

Josh Raulerson / 90.5 WESA

  Like any English professor, Clint Benjamin spends a lot of his time grading papers.

“There’s a mountain – a teetering Matterhorn of papers at the end of the weekend, or during the week,” Benjamin said. “You’ve just gotta get through them.”

By his own estimate, Benjamin spends 30 to 40 hours a week on grading alone. He also has to attend meetings, answer emails, keep office hours, and commute between the Community College of Allegheny County and Duquesne University campuses, where in a typical week he prepares and teaches five sections’ of English and writing classes.

Earlham College / Flickr

The story of Margaret Mary Vojtko, an adjunct professor at Duquesne University has gone viral and it’s sparked a debate about fair compensation for adjuncts.

Dan Kovalick, senior associate general counsel of the United Steelworkers (the union currently seeking to organize adjunct instructors at Duquesne) who wrote the op-ed piece believes that the adjuncts should have an increase in pay and should be entitled to benefits. Kovalick argues that, with heads of Universities making six-figure salaries and in some cases millions of dollars, teachers should be able to get an increase in compensation.

He also points out that parents of students, are spending tens of thousands of dollars on their child’s tuition and seeing that their child’s teachers are not making a livable wage.