Adjunct professors at Northeastern University say they will stage a one-day strike if they do not have a labor contract by Jan. 19, a threat they say comes after more than a year of frustrating negotiations with university administrators.
In addition, 66 full-time tenured professors presented a letter Wednesday to university president Joseph Aoun, declaring support for the efforts of their part-time colleagues.
The newly formed adjunct union has been negotiating with the university for 15 months. The sides have three negotiation meetings scheduled between now and the date set for the one-day strike.
“The administration’s grudging approach to bargaining and its demeaning treatment of our adjunct colleagues saddens and disappoints us,” said the letter of support delivered to Aoun.
Northeastern spokesman Michael Armini said the university hopes that a walkout can be averted.
“We hope it doesn’t come to that,” Armini said. “It would be disappointing for the union to put its political agenda ahead of the interests of our students.’’
He also said Northeastern is bargaining in good faith on wide-ranging issues involving more than 900 faculty in the bargaining unit.
“This is a really important and complex negotiation, and it’s not uncommon for a first contract to take more than a year,” Armini said.
Adjuncts gathered Wednesday on campus to discuss their situation. Many shared stories of the unstable work, low pay, and few benefits that come with being what is essentially a professor-for-hire.
Adjunct professors do not have long-term contracts with the school and are hired on a per-class basis, often on short notice. Many are paid just a few thousand dollars per class and teach at schools across Boston and the region.
Many colleges have come to rely heavily on adjunct professors, especially to teach introductory courses, and there is a growing movement of adjunct professors nationwide to unionize and demand better working conditions from colleges.
“This is not a second job for me,” said Northeastern adjunct Anne Fleche, who teaches film.
Casey Alexander, who has taught four semesters at the school’s special program for incoming international students, said she is leaving because she feels she can’t advance toward a full-time job.
“I’m already tired of every semester wondering if I’m going to have a job,” she said.