It’s back to school time, but adjunct faculty members, represented by the United Steelworkers Local 1088, at Point Park University in Pittsburgh aren’t just putting together lesson plans and greeting new students. They’re fighting for a fair contract.
Today, a delegation of about 70 USW activists from the union’s Leadership-Scholarship program marched to Point Park University from the union’s headquarters, to bring attention to ongoing, contentious negotiations between the administration and the school’s part-time faculty. Adjunct faculty teach nearly 50% of the school’s course load and makeup approximately 70% of the faculty.
In solidarity with their union brothers and sisters, the activists, who come from a wide range of USW-represented workplaces throughout North America, sang a song with lyrics they composed about the value of part-time faculty’s work to the tune of Rent’s “Seasons of Love” at the Village Park at the corner of Wood St. and the Boulevard of the Allies.
Point Park University’s tuition has increased 38 percent over the past eight years. In this time, instructional costs have actually declined when inflation is taken into account.
Where is the tuition money going? Mostly not to the people who teach.
While nearly half of Point Park classes are taught by adjunct professors, these educators are paid at a fraction of the rate of a full-timer. Adjunct professors are highly qualified professionals with advanced degrees, who are committed to providing high-quality education. These contingent faculty make as little as $9.73 per hour and get no benefits of any kind.
Point Park is now proposing negligible raises for adjunct faculty over the next three years, well below average expected in the Consumer Price Index, and would only make the income of adjunct faculty less secure.
Point Park adjunct professors have been working under the terms and conditions of a contract that expired on Aug. 1, 2019, while negotiations proceed.