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Adjunct Professors At Broward College Rally For Higher Pay, Job Security

adjunct professors
Caitie Switalski
Adjunct sociology professor George Vernon, 75, held signs and chanted at a Tuesday rally at Broward College for higher waes and better job security.

About 75 adjunct faculty at Broward College and their supporters rallied Tuesday at the college’s south campus in Pembroke Pines, shouting “We don’t want your hunger games, workers want a living wage.”

The part-time professors are also demanding access to some form of health care, Social Security benefits and more job security – rather than getting contracted from one semester to the next.

“I am 41 years old and I still live with my parents because I know that I cannot afford rent,” said Carolina Ampudia, who’s taught pre-med student as an adjunct for 10 years. “It’s a little bit ridiculous."

Ampudia was a physician in Mexico before moving to South Florida.

“It’s a calling, and that calling comes also a little bit like a curse,” she said of adjunct teaching at Broward College.

The professors and their union, the SEIU Public Services Union, say they’ve been in a bargaining process with the college for nearly a year and a half.

Read More: In Narrow Victory, Miami Dade College Adjunct Professors Win Right To Form Union

According to a study SEIU's Faculty Forward campaign conducted in March this year, the median income for adjunct professors in Florida is $17,000 a year. Adjunct professors at Broward College make around $2,000 per three-credit-hour class that they teach, according to Ampudia. 

Broward College sent WLRN an email stating the college "values the contributions" of its adjunct professors.

"As a publicly funded institution, the College adheres to the policies and procedures set by its Board and as established by the Sunshine Law for both regular meetings of the Board and collective bargaining negotiations," the college said in the email. "Because the adjunct faculty are unionized, any discussion regarding mandatory subjects of bargaining must take place at a publicly noticed bargaining meeting, as required by Florida law."

The next bargaining meeting between the college and the union is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 27.

George Vernon, 75, teaches a sociology class as an adjunct professor at Broward College. He retired early from the U.S. Department of Defsense and wanted to teach. He's tried becoming a full-time professor, but hasn't been hired as one. He said he had hoped to be able to pay into Social Security now that he's at the twilight of his career. 

"We've become like second-class citizens," Vernon said. "We teach exactly the same classes [full-time professors] do with the same student responsibilities." 

Florida state representative Cindy Polo came to the rally to support the process, she said. Her district includes parts of Broward and Miami-Dade Counties.

"As an elected official, I may not necessarily have some say over this contract negotiation,” she said, “but if I can help facilitate that... this is about doing what is fair and negotiating."