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Adjunct professors at McDaniel College vote to unionize

Adjunct professors at McDaniel College voted to unionize on Monday.

Adjunct professors at McDaniel College have voted to form a union, becoming the second four-year university in the state with collective bargaining for the part-time employees.

In recent years, adjunct professors across the country have been lobbying for more rights as universities employ increasing numbers of them. Adjuncts at the Maryland Institute College of Art unionized in 2014, amid dissatisfaction with what some lecturers called shaky job security and insufficient wages.

Montgomery College is the only other college in the state with a union for adjuncts. In Washington, Howard University, Georgetown University and American University have adjunct unions.

"Most adjuncts don't have a lot of input into their working conditions," said Pamela Zappardino, an adjunct who teaches in several departments at McDaniel and helped lead the organization efforts. "We wanted to have a voice on our campus that would be a recognized voice."

McDaniel officials acknowledged that "adjunct lecturers" had voted to unionize, and spokeswoman Cheryl Knauer said in an email that "As always, McDaniel College will comply with its legal obligations under the National Labor Relations Act.

"While the college does hire non-tenure-track faculty members, the majority of faculty members at McDaniel are full-time, tenured professors," Knauer said.

Adjuncts at McDaniel mailed in secret ballots to the National Labor Relations Board to gain formal recognition, and the vote was tallied Monday. About half of the 238 adjuncts voted, with 82 in favor and 36 opposed, according to the NLRB. The vote will be officially certified in a week.

The union will also represent graduate students who teach courses.

The adjuncts are represented by SEIU Local 500, which is based in Gaithersburg and also represents the MICA adjuncts. Organizers said they hope to sit down soon with McDaniel officials and begin working on a contract, which they hope will address wages and job security. Adjuncts with a master's degree are paid $3,000 a course, Zappardino said. Knauer declined to confirm the wage, noting McDaniel is a private institution.

"It's a wage that doesn't really respect the expertise and quality that adjunct faculty bring," Zappardino said. "I don't know anyone that just teaches and goes home. We're very interested in meeting with students and going beyond what our contract asks us to do."

cwells@baltsun.com

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