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Elon University Adjunct Faculty Votes 2-1 to Unionize

Jeremy Sprinkle
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Elon becomes the second university in North Carolina where faculty have organized

On March 12th, adjunct professors at Elon University voted by a 2-1 margin in a union election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board to exercise their freedom to join together in union with SEIU Workers United Southern Region.

From coverage in the Greensboro News & Record:

“Everybody was very excited” after the results were announced, said Catherine Bush, an assistant professor of biology and a member of the faculty union’s organizing committee. “It was kind of like getting a Ph.D. You work so hard for something, and you can’t believe it’s real.”

Unlike professors with tenure — a nearly lifetime guarantee of employment — adjuncts at Elon and other universities are essentially part-time or full-time temporary teachers. Some adjuncts are hired for only a semester at a time. They don’t usually get health benefits. Adjuncts are paid only a few thousand dollars per semester-long class, and pay rates can vary by academic school and department.

“Our joint goal is to make Elon better for ourselves and for our students,” said Bush, who has worked at Elon since 2012. “At the end of the day I think we’re all on the same side.”

Source: Adjunct faculty at Elon University vote to unionize

From coverage in the Burlington Times-News:

“There’s very little transparency and equity across the different schools, and that didn’t feel good to me,” said Sharon Eisner, an adjunct faculty member with the School of Communications since 2007, to the Burlington Times-News:

“This makes me feel like I’m part of Elon,” Eisner said. “I’m an active part of this community, and I want to make it better.”

Source: Elon faculty vote to unionize

The vote by Elon faculty to unionize comes just one year after Duke faculty secured their first collectively negotiated contract since winning the first faculty union election at a private university in the South in 2016.

North Carolina State AFL-CIO President MaryBe McMillan hailed the result as proof that organizing victories are possible even in the South.

“On behalf of the over 100,000 union members in North Carolina, I am proud to welcome the brave faculty at Elon University into the state’s growing labor movement. This is a historic election in a state tied for the lowest union density in the country. When we band together as a strong movement, workers can win justice for themselves, their families, and their communities!”


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