Delegates to the 2014 AFT Convention in Los Angeles ensured that improving the lives and working conditions of contingent faculty would remain a top priority for the union’s work in higher education. In the convention’s Higher Education committee, delegates prioritized two resolutions dealing directly with contingency to bring to the convention floor. On the floor, the convention passed a resolution calling for the end to the exploitation of and reliance on the contingent academic labor system in higher education and another calling for public service loan forgiveness to be broadened to include more contingent faculty.
Additionally, delegates also passed out of committee resolutions supporting a national mobilization for contingent faculty and calling on the Integrated Post-Secondary Education Data System (IPEDS) to collect more information on the employment of part-time and contingent faculty. While these latter two resolutions did not make it to the convention floor for votes, the AFT’s Executive Council is expected to affirm them.
Contingency was also a main focus of the Higher Education divisional meeting, where AFT’s partnership with the Freelancers Union to provide health insurance and other benefits for adjunct faculty were announced. This collaboration promises to help provide a safety net and professional network for all contingent faculty, regardless of their affiliation with the AFT. Delegates also heard from contingent faculty leaders from Oregon and Michigan about how they achieved important gains for their members through organizing and collective bargaining.
All in all, delegates left Los Angeles inspired and ready to fight forward to address the very real problems facing contingent faculty, their students, and their institutions. We are looking forward to building on the momentum started by the hard work of our members in order to reclaim the promise of higher education.