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Brandeis Democrats back Faculty Forward movement

By Charlotte Aaron

Section: News

October 23, 2015

Leaders of Brandeis Democrats support Faculty Forward, non-tenure-track faculty working to form a union, arguing that non-tenure track faculty deserve fair pay, benefits and compensation that will ultimately improve the quality of education on the Brandeis campus.

Last week, faculty gathered in the wake-and-shake area between Usdan and the library to promote their campaign for the creation of a union affiliated with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Non-tenure-track faculty, as well as students, spoke in support of the move to unionize.

The event, hosted by Brandeis Labor Coalition, was also endorsed by Brandeis Democrats, a club actively involved in the movement. On Oct. 10, the Brandeis Democrats hosted a teach-in with graduate student and UWS Professor Steven Plunkett, as well as Marcelle Grair, an organizer from SEIU Local 509, who educated club members on SEIU’s efforts to advance Faculty Forward’s cause, said Brian Hough ’17, vice president of College Democrats of Massachusetts.

“Professor Plunkett said at our workshop that he was paid $4,800 per section of UWS that he instructed … in addition to his holding office hours, preparing for courses and grading papers during spare hours, none of which are compensated,” Hough said.

Because adjunct faculty do not have long-term contracts, they can be let go with little notice and receive “little to nothing in terms of reliable benefits,” Hough said. “We find these conditions unfair to both the workers and to students, given that there is no differentiation between tenured faculty and contracted and adjunct [faculty] from the perspectives of students and the costs associated with education.”

In a club vote, Brandeis Democrats decided to fully support Brandeis Faculty Forward. “We believe the right to unionize for fair pay, benefits and equitable compensation is one of the main steps we can take to ensure social justice advocacy on our college campus,” Hough said.

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