Miami Dade College’s adjunct professors approved the formation of a union today, creating the largest single-school adjunct collective bargaining unit in the country.
According to Juan Mendieta, director of communications at MDC, 41.6 percent (1,165 out of 2,800) of adjuncts voted. The vote was 587-573 in favor of the proposal.
“We’ve been working hard, putting in our blood sweat and tears so it’s really amazing to see our hard work really pay off,” said Shelley Dockery, an adjunct professor at Kendall Campus, who teaches in the School of Entertainment & Design Technology. “It’s a historical accomplishment.”
Over the past two years, more than half—or about 9,000—of Florida’s adjunct professors have joined a union or are organizing toward unionization, according to the Service Employees International Union.
Miami Dade College is the sixth academic institution to successfully unionize, joining Valencia College, Seminole State College, Hillsborough Community College, Broward College and the University of South Florida.
“Their voice was heard, and we’d like to express our continuous support to our adjunct faculty as they transition into a new chapter with the SEIU,” Mendieta said.
Adjunct professors filed a request last August with Florida’s Public Employees Relation Commission to start the unionization process. They worked alongside SEIU during their campaign.
According to Stacey Wadle, a Kendall Campus adjunct professor, said demands include: to have more control over course material, gain access to better space to conduct office hours, more stable contracts and increased benefits.
Adjunct professors work on a semester-to-semester basis. Their contracts are renewed at the end of each semester. They are not eligible to receive medical benefits from the College. According to Mendieta, adjunct professors at MDC make more than $2,400 per course.
They will have the option to join the union, but if they decline to pay fees, they will still receive benefits from any collective bargaining negotiated, according to SEIU officials.
A timeline has not been set for negotiations to begin and it’s unclear what union fees will cost.
“This is a great victory for us,” Dockery said. “We have a lot of brilliant educators and they need the right accommodations so that they can do the best they can to provide for their students.”