Members of Howard University’s faculty have threatened to go on strike next week over what they call unfair work conditions and low pay for non-tenured, full-time teaching faculty and adjunct professors. The educators were joined by their colleagues, students, and alumni during Wednesday, March 16, protest on campus.
The premier HBCU has not reached a work agreement with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 500 for its campus’ 150 non-tenure-track, full-time teaching faculty and 200 adjunct professors, a collective identifying themselves as The Howard Teaching Faculty Union (HTFU).
On Wednesday, one of the alumni named Thomas attended the demonstration and spoke about his history with the school. Thomas said, “I was born colored and negro, but I became African-American at Howard University.”
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After sharing how he and his wife were students who participated in many protests on campus, he explained to the assembly why it is imperative for everyone to “support the union, support organized people, support having decent wages, support a wage that can raise your people.”
Teachers and students held up signs saying, “Working Conditions = Teaching Conditions” and “We are not disposable.”
Two female teachers were among the many speakers. Their stories were unique as they both claimed that when they were pregnant the university gave them a hard time when negotiating their maternal leave.
They said while the school gave them a lot of leave, the university was not willing to give them the money they needed. Now, with infants to raise, the two English teachers, who have taught for three years over 300 students, contend their salaries are “too low to afford child care.”
A flyer circulated about the dispute states the group has been negotiating with the administration for almost three years.
The fact sheet explains how Howard’s non-tenure-track lecturers and adjunct faculty “teach over 2,000 courses per year,” and the “lecturers have not received a raise in over 5 years.”