Union Busting at Duquesne University?

Unacceptable.  Duquesne University appears to be using its religious affiliation with the Spiritans in order to bypass its legal obligations, see here.  This is union busting plain and simple, whether or not it is clothed in religious garb.  Think that the adjuncts don’t have legitimate complaints?

““If you teach the maximum permitted number of courses, you make $10,000 a year, which is below the poverty line,” said Dr. Sowards, who became one of the union drive’s organizers. The salary represents four courses a year at a rate of $2,500 per course.

Another issue was health care. “We don’t have any,” Dr. Sowards said. And then there was job security. “Our contracts are written in such a way that the university can cancel our courses at any time for any reason, and you have no assurance that you can teach from one semester to the next. We have people who have been teaching here 25 years and never know if they have a job next semester.””

Don’t make me regret coming here.


About jleavittpearl

Philosopher and Theologian out of Pittsburgh PA.

Posted on September 25, 2012, in News and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. If they want more money, they should sell their services where people are willing to give them more for it (e.g. fast food service, janitorial work, construction; 10k/year at full time isn’t hard to beat). If they prefer working this job for less money, well, why is anyone obliged to give them more than that?

    Of course, there are other effects of unionizing we can consider. What of those PhD’s out in the field who aren’t even employed? Unionizing will restrict the market, meaning that there are a greater number who won’t get hired. I’m going to guess your solution to this hypothetical problem created by the introduction of coercion would be more coercion, since you don’t have any principles against doing such a thing here in the first place.

  2. Yes, but at an 8.3% unemployment rate, “selling your services” is much more difficult then it might seem, particularly for those whose training does not permit them to seek employment in fields such as construction. Fields which, in many situations, themselves require specific training and certification.

    As for the larger philosophic question, the answer comes down to the relationship between employers and employees. Is there a minimum level of compensation that should be required of employers when employing people at this level? I would simply answer yes. Does this jive with an absolutely “free market” system? No, clearly not. But we don’t have one, nor would I advocate one. On this point I believe we are at an impasse.

    Regarding the effects of unionizing. Certainly, given the recent trends in higher education, employment opportunities for PhD’s are already slim. But it seems laughable to suppose that support of an increasing exploitative adjunct system would possibly improve the prospects of future PhD’s. On the contrary, it is precisely this form of resistance, which is aimed at preventing future abuse.

    As for your closing comments, I don’t know what you mean there, so I will move on.

    Finally, as past interactions and this one lead me to believe that you operate from a libertarian economic philosophy, I must ask: why do adjunct teachers lack the right to unionize if they so choose? Is this not one of their freedoms? Why must the freedom of the university to exploit its workers be given higher priority than the workers decision to pull together in solidarity? The real question here is not about their demands, but more fundamentally, about their right to organize their demands as a whole.

  1. Pingback: A Letter from an Embarrassed Grad Student | The Space Beyond Being

  2. Pingback: Please Sign and Boost: Justice not Charity for Adjuncts | The Space Beyond Being

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