The wave of organizing sweeping college contingent faculty nationwide started in the metro Washington area. SEIU Local 500’s organizing efforts at Georgetown, the University of the District of Columbia, American University, and Howard University inspired national SEIU to adopt Metro Strategy organizing as a national campaign…
In Metro Strategy, multiple institutions are targeted simultaneously so a whole regional workforce becomes unionized. This takes advantage of how contingent (also known as adjunct) faculty members typically commute among various campuses, facing equally bad working conditions everywhere they go. The effort has spread beyond SEIU to other unions and there are now adjuncts organizing in 22 states across the country, according to a report in Labor Notes. Local 500 has also moved into Maryland, where it represents adjuncts at the only community college with a collective bargaining agreement, Montgomery College. Local 500 is now building Coalition of Academic Labor (CAL) chapters at other community colleges, including two in Baltimore. It has also organized the private Maryland Institute of Art and is organizing at George Mason University in northern Virginia.
photo: AU adjuncts and students at a 2013 teach-in; photo courtesy SEIU 500