Dear Hamline Colleagues –
Over the past two weeks I’ve met with about a dozen of you one-on-one. I think every single person I’ve connected with has found it useful. I’ll continue to reach to others as your availability matches mine. A union is as strong as the common convictions and—more importantly—the good relationships that hold us together. If you want to be sure to connect with me, then send a message my way, and I’ll get right back to you.
AN IMPORTANT CLARIFICATION
One misconception I encountered a couple times has to do with the impact of union dues on your paycheck, so let me clear that up right away. (1) No one pays any dues until our first contract takes effect. (2) At that point everyone in the unit pays dues, except for a few very rare exceptions. (3) Dues are 2.1% of your pay, typically deducted right from your paycheck. (4) Dues are only paid on courses covered by the contract and only when you’re actually teaching them; semesters you don’t teach, you don’t pay dues either. (5) Most importantly, we are bargaining for a contract that will increase everyone’s salary by more than 2.1%, so we are working toward a contract that raises everyone’s net pay.
Here’s the single caveat I need to mention. Right now some folks in our unit make more than $4000/course. The university is presently offering no increase for you, which is one way they will try to fracture the unit from within, pitting us against each other. The bargaining team is committed to a new contract that has an increase for everyone, even as we work to secure the largest increase for those at the bottom of the pay scale. We are determined not to leave anyone “standing still.” Visible solidarity from those of you making above $4000/course is incredibly important right now because it tells the university that we are standing together for each other.
UPCOMING FOOD DRIVE
The next two weeks may well be the most significant for us since we started bargaining. Here’s what going on and how you can help.
Over the past decade, as most of our wages have remained absolutely flat, we’ve lost $800 of buying power per course we teach. For some of us the money we earn as adjunct faculty is simply an added bonus to a fulltime salary or an extra boost to a household budget already in good shape, but for many of us our pay is a direct part of our household budget—the part that purchases clothing, pays the mortgage, covers the heating bill, puts gas in the car, and buys groceries. And somehow the university’s best economic offer to date doesn’t even come close to restoring that lost buying power.
So starting on Friday November 6, we are partnering with MPIRG (a social justice-oriented student organization) to run a 10-day Food Drive in Anderson Center. To be clear, we are not collecting food to feed adjuncts. All donations will go the Keystone Services Midway Food Shelf, which serves needy families in the Midway area. But we will track the food we gather in $800 increments so that we can visually represent what that lost buying power looks like in groceries. This will drive home in a powerfully symbolic way that will be visible to the entire campus community what is at stake in our negotiations.
We are launching this food drive on the same afternoon that Family Weekend begins. We are not doing this to humiliate the university, but to declare unmistakably that justice for adjunct faculty is an issue inextricably tied to Hamline’s mission, vision, and values—and therefore something that all Hamline stakeholders, including parents, should care about. This will be a positive campaign, “doing good while pursuing good,” but it will also be highly visible, and we believe that is to our advantage. Besides the food drive itself, MPIRG has created a large banner to hang in Anderson and will be posting announcement around campus. We have taken out a half-page ad in the upcoming issue of The Oracle and are creating flyers (as well as more buttons and windows signs) to have at the food drive table in Anderson.
If you can, we’d love to have you join us for the food drive kick-off at 3 p.m. on Friday, November 6, in the central forum on the first floor of Anderson. But we would also welcome your presence during any of the tabling hours. MPIRG will lead that effort, but it’s important that we be present, too. The table will be just inside the entrance to Anderson. Here are the tabling times:
Fri. – 11/6: 2-5p
Sat. – 11/7: 12-1p
Mon. – 11/9: 5:30-6:30p
Tues. – 11/10: 12:30-1:30p
Wed. – 11/11: 5-6p
Thur. – 11/12: 11:30a-12:30p
Fri. – 11/13: 5-6p
Mon. – 11/16: 11:30a-12:30p
If you can be present for the entire hour on a specific day, please email me, and I’ll make sure MPIRG knows you’re coming. Otherwise just drop by the table, let them know you’re an adjunct faculty, and thank them for standing up on our behalf. And don’t forget to bring a non-perishable food item to add to the bin. (A collection box will also be available at the info desk anytime Anderson Center is open.)
MAINTAINING OUR VISIBILITY
Finally, as we undertake the food, let’s also keep up our other forms of visibility. Sport your Hamline burgundy and gray threads as solidarity colors on Monday and Thursday. Wear those “I Support Hamline Adjuncts” buttons everyday with Piper pride. And display those window signs wherever they’ll catch the most eyes. I have a pair of signs in each backseat window of my Prius, so wherever I go my message goes, too. If you need a button or a sign, let me know or stop by during the food drive table hours. Every show of solidarity, both within and beyond our unit strengthens our position. And keep sharing the video. We added over 1000 new views in the last ten days! (https://www.facebook.com/SEIULocal284/videos/10153626628264675/).
We bargain the morning of November 6 (right before we kick off the food drive that afternoon) and then again on November 10, the Tuesday following Family Weekend.
Steward for Hamline Adjunct Faculty Union, SEIU Local 284