JACKSONVILLE, Ala. (WIAT) — On Monday, members of United Campus Workers (UCW) of Alabama–Communications Workers of America Local 3965, announced their union at Jacksonville State University.
According to UCW Alabama’s website, the JSU-UCW chapter hopes to build on the legacies of other unions at universities across the South that have won “a $15 minimum wage for campus workers, base pay raises for lecturers and academic advisors, and the elimination of graduate student fees.”
JSU-UCW is the third union at a public Alabama university, joining the University of Alabama and Auburn University.
“We’re really excited about working together with colleagues here on campus, across the state and throughout the Southeast to improve wages and working conditions for all campus workers,” Lance Ingwersen, an associate professor and member of the chapter’s organizing council, said in a statement.
“It has become increasingly clear to our members that unionization is the most effective means to achieving fairness and having our voices heard at JSU,” Ingwersen continued. “We believe that all employees should earn a living wage, have access to basic benefits, and possess safe working conditions. That is not currently happening on our campus.”
UCWAL claims that high enrollment rates have resulted in larger class sizes and the hiring of more adjunct faculty, who are paid “well below the national average of $3,500 per course;” Faculty are often paid $2,000-2,500 per three-credit hour course, UCWAL claims.
Additionally, UCWAL said in a press release that JSU’s student workers earn $8.25 an hour.
“I started at JSU in the mid-1990s. In the past several years, it’s become apparent that the power structure has changed,” said long-time JSU professor and member of the chapter’s organizing council, Teresa Reed. “It is now much more a top-down system than it used to be, which means that input from faculty and staff—and particularly those with the least power—has been greatly curtailed. Joining and helping grow the union is the best way to amplify many more voices on campus.”
Alabama is a “right to work” state, according to UCWAL, which means that employees cannot be forced to join a union.
“Even in right to work states across the South, more and more campus workers are unionizing to improve working conditions and student’s learning experiences,” said Sarah Donley, an associate professor and member of the organizing council. “We are hopeful to do that at JSU.”
Members of the JSU chapter invite staff, student workers and faculty to join their efforts on the “friendliest campus in the South.”