When adjunct faculty at Georgetown University swept their union election May 3 with 72 percent voting yes, it marked a local tipping point: Service Employees Local 500 now represents a majority of adjuncts at private colleges in the Washington, D.C. area.
The spread of adjunct unions in D.C., where faculty self-organized at four colleges, inspired SEIU to launch a citywide, cross-college organizing strategy in Boston. Seattle may be next. The Steelworkers are doing the same in Pittsburgh.
In many industries, your typical union event is a march or a rally, but in the academic world, folks like a good symposium. Both unions held conferences on contingent faculty organizing in April.