Adjunct faculty, part-time university employees who are paid by the classes they teach, rather than on an annual salary, and are usually ineligible for benefits, are among the most exploited members of academic communities.

This makes the latest developments at Eastern Michigan University particularly interesting. According to an article by Kellie Woodhouse at

The EMU Board of Regents voted Tuesday to approve the first-ever contract agreement with part-time faculty. About 800 contingent lecturers are represented by the new contract, which was ratified last week by the adjunct bargaining unit of the EMU Federation of Teachers. The contract increased and formalized pay and benefits for adjunct professors.

The new contract creates an official pay scale, increasing some part-time lecturers’ pay from $600 a credit hour to at least $1,125 a credit hour. It also adds a longevity payment, which awards part-time faculty up to an additional $400 per semester, depending on how long they’ve taught at EMU.

Under the earlier system adjunct professors often didn’t know from one semester to the next if they’d be teaching at all.

Part-time lecturers voted to unionize in summer 2010 and since then have staged a sit-in in the president’s office and marched in front of the school’s administration building.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer