A small but powerful group of about 40 contingent faculty met in late April for our 2021 Adjuncts Building Community Conference. 15 of our higher ed faculty locals in both AFT Washington and Washington Education Association were represented. This is promising, especially in light of how much COVID has devastated our workforce.
The Communities for Our Colleges Coalition provided the keynote address; speakers Fernando Mejia-Ledesma and a contingent of Student Fellows, including Isaac Tchao, Mya Leonhard, Lizbeth Rivera-Estrada, and Nyla Coleman, joined us to share how they successfully advocated for HB 5194. This bill originally contained language around pay parity for adjuncts, but was pared down as it made its way through the legislature to funding 200 new full-time faculty positions, in an effort to begin to flip the 70:30 ratio of Part-Time to Full-Time Tenure-Track faculty. Even in its reduced form, this bill represents a major investment in CTCs and a huge win! It would not have gotten as far as it did without the tireless work of the coalition and the hundreds of AFT Washington members who came out to support it. The key difference in this win was that we worked in coalition with students; legislators listen to students in a way they don’t always to faculty. Our working conditions are their learning conditions; we are in this together, and should be fighting for the issues important to them.
Imagine what we could accomplish if more adjuncts came out in support of a bill for pay parity and job security in the next biennium. We could get a reinvestment in our colleges that improved the quality of the education our students receive, in part by ending the inequitable conditions that contingent faculty endure. That’s where YOU come in. The Contingent Faculty Issues Committee has a blueprint for starting committees on each campus, with a representative attending the monthly CFIC meetings. An organized adjunct committee on your campus could provide social activities as well as a much-needed space to share tips for surviving on your campus, as well as engaging adjuncts in supporting legislative priorities.
To learn more about starting an adjunct committee on your campus, or get involved in one that already exists, message Kent Hill, Third VP for Shoreline Community College Federation of Teachers & CFIC member at hill.kent AT gmail.com.