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Wed Jul 15, 2015, 02:57 PM

At Wash. U. and Webster, a Fight to Unionize Adjunct Professors -- With Different Results

Photo by Kelly Glueck
Elizabeth Sausele


I have to work at Trader Joe's to afford to teach at Webster," says Elizabeth Sausele. Sausele, 50, has a master's in divinity and a doctorate in education with an emphasis in intercultural studies. She worked on her dissertation in Rwanda, studying adolescent trauma in the wake of war and genocide. For the last six years, she's taught at Webster University's Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies, part of the College of Arts and Sciences at the private, non-profit university in Webster Groves. Currently, she teaches two classes a semester. It doesn't pay the bills. "Trader Joe's pays me more to stock bananas than Webster pays me to teach," she muses.

She quit Webster's academic subcomittee for the Human Rights Program for just that reason. "I can't afford to go to meetings for free anymore," she states flatly. In fact, thanks to her four-day-a-week job at Trader Joe's, she couldn't attend many meetings of her fellow adjunct professors as they contemplated unionizing.

She even missed the Webster adjunct faculty vote at the National Labor Relations Board on May 11, though she would have liked to have been there. She was too busy stocking bananas.

In recent years, American universities, both public and private, have become the Walmart of education. Anti-union CEOs from the likes of Peabody Energy and Emerson Electric sit on their board of trustees; their presidents and chancellors in turn sit on the CEO's corporate boards. Yet universities pay the people doing most of the work in this case, the actual teachers non-livable wages.

FULL story at link.

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