Mayday Declaration on Contingency in Higher Education

The Mayday Declaration on Contingency in Higher Education is part of the national Mayday $5K! campaign that was launched in the spring of 2013. Its goal is to ensure educational quality, fairness and equity by improving the wages and working conditions of all contingent faculty in higher education. They are the majority of college teachers and currently number about one million, including part-time adjuncts and full-time lecturers not on tenure-track lines.

The campaign welcomes the support of everyone, whether they are students, members of the general public or teachers, regardless of their employment status.

The campaign goals of the Mayday Declaration are endorsed by a variety of unions and other organizations, including New Faculty Majority: The National Coalition for Adjunct and Contingent Equity.

Please add your name to the list of supporters!

In solidarity,

Peter D.G. Brown
Mayday $5K! Coordinator
UUP Chapter President
SUNY New Paltz


Mayday! This is an emergency call for help! We face a dangerous crisis in higher education. It affects almost every university, college and community college. It is not limited to any city, region or state. It is called contingency: the majority of teachers in higher education today are grossly underpaid, at-will employees, lacking any meaningful job security and the academic freedom essential to quality education.

The tenured jobs of the past have been outsourced to a contingent academic labor force. Many so-called “part-timers” teach twice as much as their “full-time” colleagues. Similarly, many “temps,” whose short-term contracts typically extend for a year or less, have been teaching for decades—often longer than permanent teachers on continuing appointments.

The effects of this crisis should be known to everyone. Contingency has been a dirty little secret for nearly half a century, in plain sight but almost totally ignored, and nothing will change until the facts are widely understood. The majority of college teachers in the United States today—over a million individuals—are contingent. Most of them are so-called “adjuncts.” They are paid poverty wages, earning an average of $2,700 per three-credit semester course. Most adjuncts make $10,000 to $20,000 a year, often working more than 40 hours per week. An estimated 80% lack any health or retirement benefits, and academic freedom is meaningless in the absence of any job security.

The conditions under which contingent teachers are forced to work undermine the quality of higher education. Their miserable working conditions adversely affect student learning conditions, thus short-changing our students and threatening the future of our nation. This is no way to prepare the next generation for an increasingly competitive global economy! Funding education on the cheap has resulted in most American students no longer being competitive with those in dozens of other countries.

To reverse this disastrous trend, the undersigned urge that the following steps be adopted on a priority basis:
1. Increase the starting salary for a three-credit semester course to a minimum of $5,000 for all instructors in higher education.
2. Ensure academic freedom by providing progressively longer contracts for all contingent instructors who have proven themselves during an initial probationary period.
3. Provide health insurance for all instructors, either through their college’s health insurance system or through the Affordable Care Act.
4. Support the quality education of our students by providing their instructors with necessary office space, individual development support, telephones, email accounts and mail boxes.
5. Guarantee fair and equitable access to unemployment benefits when college instructors are not working.
6. Guarantee eligibility for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program to all college instructors who have taught for ten years, during which they were repaying their student loans.
7. With or without a time-in service requirement, allow all college teachers to vote and hold office in institutional governance, including faculty senates and academic departments.

The signatories urge a comprehensive, cooperative effort to end the staffing crisis in higher education for the sake of all our students and all our citizens. Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!




Adjunct Faculty Association, United Steelworkers
Pittsburgh, PA

Albany Chapter
United University Professions

Empire State College Chapter
United University Professions

Executive Board (statewide)
United University Professions

Graduate Student Employees Union (New York statewide)
CWA Local 1104

New Faculty Majority
The National Coalition for Adjunct & Contingent Equity

New Paltz Chapter
United University Professions

Oneonta Chapter
United University Professions

Oswego Chapter
United Univerisity Professions

Purchase Chapter
United University Professions

Union County College Chapter
United Adjunct Faculty of New Jersey


Richard Aberle, UUP Officer for Contingents
Department of English
SUNY College at Plattsburgh

Anthony Adamo, President
CSEA Local 610
SUNY New Paltz

Yvonne Aspengren, 2012 Fayez Samuel Award Recipient
Department of Languages, Literatures & Cultures
SUNY New Paltz

Joe T. Berry
Coalition of Contingent Academic Labor
Author: Reclaiming the Ivory Tower: Organizing Adjuncts to Change Higher Education

Rowena Blackman-Stroud
UUP Treasurer & Chapter President
SUNY Downstate/Brooklyn Health Science Center

Ross Borden
Lecturer in English
SUNY Cortland

Peter D.G. Brown, Distinguished Service Prof. of German, Emeritus
UUP Chapter President
SUNY New Paltz

Jim Collins, Professor of Anthropology
UUP Chapter Past President
SUNY Albany

Maureen F. Curtin, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of English
SUNY Oswego

James Engle, Assistant Professor of English
UUP Chapter President
SUNY Morrisville

Paul Kaplan
Professor of Art History
SUNY Purchase

Monazir Khan
GSEU Division of CWA Local 1104
SUNY Binghamton

Frederick Kowal
President, United University Professions (statewide)
SUNY Cobleskill

Carolyn S. Kube
UUP Executive Board (statewide)
SUNY Stony Brook Health Science Center

Alex Kudera, Lecturer in English,
Clemson University, SC
Author: Fight for Your Long Day

Martha Livingston, UUP VP for Academics
Professor and Chair, Public Health
SUNY Old Westbury

Maria Maisto
President, New Faculty Majority
Akron, Ohio

Lori Nash, UUP Chapter President
UUP Executive Board (statewide)
UUP Chapter President, SUNY Oswego

Earl Packard, Asst. Prof. of Mathematics
UUP Chapter President
SUNY Alfred

Laura S. Rhoads
UUP Executive Board (statewide)
UUP Chapter President, SUNY Potsdam

Robert Samuels
President, University of California AFT
Santa Barbara, CA

Arthur Shertzer
UUP Executive Board (statewide)
UUP Chapter President, SUNY Stony Brook

Betsy Smith
Adjunct Professor of ESL
Cape Cod Community College

William Simons, Professor of History
UUP Chapter President
SUNY Oneonta

Ana M. Fores Tamayo
Adjunct Justice, New Faculty Majority
Keller, Texas

Alan Trevethick, PhD
Adjunct in Anthropology & Sociology
Fordham U. & Westchester CC

Susan Udin, Professor
Department of Physiology and Biophysics
SUNY Buffalo

Vanessa Vaile
New Faculty Majority Social Media Coordinator
Mountainair, New Mexico

Anne Wiegard
UUP Delegate and Lecturer in English
SUNY Cortland

Matt Williams
Vice President, New Faculty Majority
Akron, Ohio

Beth Wilson
UUP Executive Board (statewide)
SUNY New Paltz

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