NEWARK, NJ — Adjunct teachers at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) in Newark say they’re taking a stand against a “toxic culture” that is asking too much from its lowest-paid faculty members. That’s what spurred NJIT adjuncts to rally on campus last week, according to a statement from AFT New Jersey.
The 300-plus adjunct faculty members – who voted to form a union in May – want “better pay, recognition of their critical roles in the campus community and opportunities for professional development and career advancement.”
Adjuncts at Rutgers earn about $5,200 per class, compared to $3,900 at NJIT for the same work, forcing NJIT adjuncts to scramble to pick up extra classes to make ends meet, union representatives said in May. Many adjuncts at NJIT have no access to employer-sponsored health insurance because they teach at multiple institutions part-time, union leaders added.
The state Public Employee Relations Commission (PERC) – the entity that regulates public sector unions in New Jersey – certified the NJIT adjunct teachers’ vote to unionize on April 25. The new local is affiliating with the Rutgers American Association of University Professors-American Federation of Teachers.
The Rutgers AAUP-AFT adjunct faculty unit represents more than 2,000 members in Camden, New Brunswick and the Newark campus, which borders NJIT, union representatives stated.
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“We are calling for NJIT management to bargain a fair contract that recognizes the contributions of highly-skilled, experienced adjunct faculty and addresses what has become a toxic culture of over-reliance on severely under-compensated professionals to teach and perform many vital campus functions,” said New Jersey native and architecture teacher Susan Bristol.
According to union leaders, despite Bristol’s part-time status as an” adjunct faculty member,” she has created new curriculum and original courses, participated in national accreditation, recruited high school students, made calls to admitted students, delivered public lectures at other universities, taken students on field trips to important architectural sites, and arranged meetings with prominent architects to enrich students’ college experiences.
“I love teaching NJIT students, but what are the institutional ethics of asking the lowest-paid faculty to perform so many uncompensated professional functions on top of their teaching responsibilities?” Bristol opined.