Opinion: Collective Bargaining Rights = Greater Equity for Community College Professors

Prince George's
File photo.

I am a proud associate professor at Prince George’s Community College, and I support SB746/HB894, the bill that would give adjunct professors the right to collectively bargain.

I have spent 15 years preparing Maryland’s workforce, and I’ve mentored countless students in their personal and professional goal attainment. As adjuncts work to win a union, I stand in solidarity with all community colleges and the right to negotiate a contract and have better working conditions.

A union for faculty means that in an environment that is less than optimal when it comes to faculty evaluations, hiring practices and more, we will get the opportunity to improve all of that for many adjuncts.

With a union we will be able to ask for respect on the job and for increased protection and pay as we return back to the classroom as we recover from a global pandemic. More than 200,000 Maryland public employees have a choice to collectively bargain, I’d like adjunct professors at Prince George’s Community College to be a part of that number.

These inequities don’t just impact faculty. They also affect our student body, 94% of which are people of color at PGCC. Many of my students use their studies as an opportunity to train in new skills, to find jobs in the fields they are passionate about and to become leaders in our community.

I am glad to see support from the Maryland General Assembly’s Black Caucus for this bill. They know that students will benefit as much as faculty, and that through them our communities will come back from this pandemic more resilient than ever.

The bill has been voted out of both houses of the legislature. I’d like to remind you that without collective bargaining, faculty have to “go it alone” in grievances around academic freedom, shared governance and due process.

Collective bargaining rights would help faculty negotiate for greater equity.

— SONIA BELL

The writer is an associate professor at Prince George’s Community College.