Howard’s adjunct faculty win historic vote to unionize


Howard University’s adjunct faculty voted overwhelmingly on April 30 to form a union, making it the first of the nation’s 105 historically black colleges and universities to have an adjunct faculty union.

The adjuncts voted 46 to 5 in favor of unionizing. They must now wait for the National Labor Relations Board to certify the union before beginning negotiations with the university.

While the movement for adjunct unionization has grown tremendously in recent years, unions for both adjunct and full-time faculty remain scarce at historically black colleges and universities. Less than one-tenth of these schools have faculty unions compared to more than a third of all nonprofit public and private colleges.

Experts say that this scarcity is due in part to the location of the vast majority of historically black colleges in southern states with harsh anti-labor laws. In addition, many of these colleges have a unique campus culture that can be skeptical of outsiders and concentrates a great deal of power in the hands of university presidents, who were once charged with protecting their schools from surrounding local communities opposed to the education of African Americans, experts say.

Inside Higher Ed, May 1
SEIU Local 500 blog post, May 1
The Chronicle of Higher Education, April 30
Adjunct Action, April 30

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