EDISON…More than 450 adjunct faculty at Brookdale Community College have voted to unionize and join the largest higher education union in the state, according to Joan Carroll, who teaches math at the school and is a member of the new union’s leadership team. “We stuck together and now have our unified official voice for interacting with Brookdale’s administration along with a forum of communication among adjuncts,” Carroll said.
James Schmitt also teaches math at the school and is a member of the leadership team. “Our goal is now to negotiate a contract providing Brookdale Community College adjuncts with a better, more equal and more efficient environment to teach, grow, and prosper, Schmitt said. “We have achieved something meaningful at Brookdale—a union—a voice for all adjunct faculty.”
Adjunct faculty are underpaid and are often insecure as their classes may be reassigned if student enrollment drops, according to Elaine Bobrove, President of United Adjunct Faculty of New Jersey-American Federation of Teachers (UAFNJ). “Adjunct faculty teach a majority of the classes and are joining together because we deserve better pay and respect for our professional contributions to our schools,” said Bobrove, an adjunct English professor at Camden County College. “Only through working together can we hope to make the financial gains and the rights and respect that our expertise deserves.”
The adjunct faculty at Brookdale form UAFNJ’s eleventh community college chapter in New Jersey, representing a combined total of more than 4,000 individual members, Bobrove said.
There are more adjunct faculty in New Jersey than full-time faculty, according to Chiera. “We congratulate Brookdale adjunct faculty for making the decision to join the union and welcome them to the collaborative effort to improve higher education in New Jersey,” she said. “We are working diligently at the individual schools and in Trenton to improve access to higher education for students and bargain for good working conditions for educators.”
Brookdale Community College adjunct faculty members teach at the main campus in Lincroft and locations in Hazlet, Freehold, Long Branch, Neptune and Wall as well as online classes. The school reported 12,780 matriculated and non-degree students in Fall 2017.
An overwhelming majority of the adjunct faculty signed authorization cards to form the union, which Brookdale’s management voluntarily agreed to recognize on Feb. 13, according to Chiera.
For more information about the Brookdale adjunct faculty union, visit http://brookdaleadjuncts.org/. For more information about the United Adjunct Faculty of New Jersey, visit http://uafnj.nj.aft.org/. For more information about the American Federation of Teachers New Jersey, visit https://aftnj.org/.