Robert Yoshioka has chartered a bus to carry 60 part-time faculty from the campus of Butte College, in Oroville, California, to the state capitol on February 25th, but he’s not sure how many protestors will be there to march when the bus arrives.
Yoshioka, a representative of the California Part-Time Faculty Association, is one of many who are agitating for better wages and greater job security for adjunct, part-time, and contingent faculty, who often don’t know whether they’ll be hired back until a few weeks before the semester starts. But as he and his fellow activists prepare for a National Adjunct Walkout Day on February 25th—the first nationwide protest of its kind—he is running into a problem: It’s hard to organize a loose collection workers who are hired and fired at will. “The problem is that part-timers as a group…it’s a revolving door,” he said.
For the upcoming day of action, at least one school, Seattle University, has organized a traditional walkout that over 100 faculty have pledged to participate in. But, by and large, “Walkout Day” may prove to be a misnomer; under some state laws governing unions and strikes, adjunct professors can’t actually walk out of classrooms without risking their jobs—so many campuses are organizing alternative activities instead. A community college in Kentucky is planning a teach-in, and some schools in the City University of New York and State University of New York systems are planning other non-walkout events. There is also talk of “grade-ins,” in which adjuncts gather to work in public places to raise awareness about their lack of office space.