Recently, adjunct professors at Mills College in Oakland, CA, voted 78 percent in favor of union representation by the Service Employees International Union. SEIU has been aggressively pushing adjunct unionization around the country, evidently on the belief that adjunct faculty members are the best pickings left in the field of public employment. No doubt, most of the professors who heard the SEIU pitch were enthralled — more money, more respect! No downside at all, especially since the school as a “social justice mission.”
Now, however, the downside is manifesting itself. As we read in this Inside Higher Ed story, some of the adjuncts have had their workloads reduced and some are being laid off.
The union campaign occurred in the face of a sizeable budget deficit for Mills. If that came up at all, no doubt the SEIU told the adjuncts not to worry about it.
Higher ed often seems like a fantasy land to the people who work in it, but it is a part of the real world, where actions have consequences. In recent weeks, professors have learned that vituperative tweeting can boomerang on you and now that union promises might not come true.