After years of protest, Montclair State University adjunct professors have reached a conclusion to their battle for equal pay. As of January, these faculty members, as well as professors from eight other public institutions, are officially working under a new contract.
Among many other accomplishments, this contract has afforded adjunct professors a pay increase of $230 per credit.
Mary Wallace, the president of the Montclair Adjunct Union Local, explained why this decision was important.
“We are still underpaid, but this raise per credit was the largest in memory,” Wallace said.
This increase is an effort to solve the issue of pay disparity between full-time and adjunct professors.
“When full-time professors teach a summer course they receive a certain pay,” Wallace said. “When adjuncts teach that [same] course, their pay is lower.”
By 2023, adjunct professors will finally reach parity with a salary of $5,115 for teaching a three-credit course. According to Wallace, the full-time professors were in full support of the adjunct professors’ goals.
The union’s effort to arrange a fair contract was brought to public attention in 2016 when members created a petition on change.org entitled, “Support Equal Pay for Adjunct Faculty” which gained a total of 628 supporters.
“Adjuncts at [Montclair State] deserve equal pay for equal work!” the petition said. As the fall 2019 semester came to a close, negotiations for the contract continued to be stalled.
Wallace explained why the contract took a long time to be made.
“When issues such as a person’s livelihood and pay equality are at stake, it is the moral responsibility of the bargaining unit to take the time to get the very best contract possible,” Wallace said. “It takes time for both sides to reach an acceptable solution, but the adjuncts were committed to equal pay for equal work.”
Weary of working under an expired contract, professors began to protest around campus. The outcry from the faculty members and their supporters was heard. The agreement reached this January addresses their concerns with serious solutions.
Wallace was pleased with the overall outcome of the contract, but acknowledged that this wasn’t the end of it.
“Work must still be done for the future. We will soon enter into local negotiations directly with Montclair State on a number of items not negotiated on the state level,” Wallace said. “It will be a matter of whether the adjuncts are respected enough to be treated fairly.”
Many students at Montclair State agree with Wallace’s positive reaction to the new contract. Daniela Giordano, a senior television and digital media major, felt the new contract was only fair.
“For having spent the same amount of time working toward getting the same degree and teaching the same courses as full-time professors, it’s only fair that adjuncts are paid the same,” Giordano said. “This contract is a very good thing.”
Maria Spano, a sophomore English major, is happy for them as well.
“I saw the professors protesting on campus back in the fall. I think it’s great that they were able to get a raise,” Spano said.