Adjunct Professors Could Vote to Unionize At Valencia College This Week
A final vote is expected on the measure next week.
The fight for unionization has already had several victories at Valencia College, from 5 percent wage increases to full-time visiting professor positions.
But for adjunct professors like Priscila LaPuente, unionizing as adjuncts would be the ultimate win. She says right now she only makes 2,200 dollars a course.
“It’s frustrating to go through all that work and to think if you work hard, you’ll achieve the American Dream. And then you end up experiencing all those issues which include incredibly subpar pay for our qualifications.”
Rep. Anna Eskamani who used to be an adjunct at the University of Central Florida says unionizing would guarantee a living wage to 70 percent of the staff at the college.
“From the perspective of our state's talent pool, our state colleges are a key component in retraining a workforce, in getting folks into high paying jobs.”
Eskamani says as an adjunct she only made 1,500 dollars per class she taught.
“Many make less than 2,000 dollars per course without health insurance, retirement benefits or paid sick leave. And it’s just becoming impossible for them to just pay their bills on time and to have a decent place to live. So this effort of forming a union is really grounded in just equity within the employment. It’s about making sure that adjuncts are valued in the academic infrastructure.”
If their efforts are successful, Florida will have over 10,000 unionized workers at higher education institutions in the state.
In a statement, Valencia College says it has worked diligently to be responsive to the needs of its part-time faculty and instructors, “For example, we have provided annual pay increases for the past seven years, offered paid time off, including temporary paid emergency leave for those affected by COVID-19, and provided opportunities for increased compensation and advancement through professional development."
"As always, we encourage employees to engage directly with us to provide feedback on employment-related issues. We don’t believe an outside entity would benefit part-time faculty in achieving their objectives.”