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Adjunct faculty in Minnesota explore unionizing

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For the first time, half of all college instructors in the U.S. are part-time adjunct professors, who generally work long hours for low pay and no benefits, and have little job security.

A campaign to unionize adjunct faculty at the University of Minnesota and other colleges and universities in the state is getting underway, the Minnesota Daily reports.

The Service Employees International Union launched its Adjunct Action campaign last year at campuses in several cities around the country, and it currently represents 18,000 adjunct faculty nationwide. The union began reaching out to adjunct faculty in Minnesota earlier this year, according to Adjunct Action campaign director Todd Ricker.

Adjunct faculty accounted for nearly half of all higher education faculty last year, according to a recent report by the U.S. House Education and the Workforce Committee, but they typically earn an average of half the salary of full-time professors and instructors, the report said.

One reason for the increase in part-time and temporary staffing is money. Administrators are hiring more instructors at lower salaries to help balance their books.

Campuses in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System, as well as many private schools, are following the same pattern of hiring more adjunct faculty members, due to the same budget concerns.

As if to highlight that scenario, adjunct faculty at Minnesota State University-Moorhead are facing uncertainty as the school cuts back on teaching positions to balance its budget, the Forum News Service reports. The school currently employs about 150 adjunct instructors.

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