Clarity in What Contracts Include for New Crop of Unionized Adjunct Professors

The adjunct unionization trend is literally sweeping the country right now with a new school’s adjuncts electing to unionize on what seems like a weekly basis. The early adopters of unions have recently signed their first collective bargaining agreements (CBAs). These CBAs share many similarities. For example, Northeastern University’s adjuncts will see an average pay bump of 12% over the next 3 years; pay for the lowest earners will double, while pay for the highest will increase 9%. When courses are cancelled on short notice, adjuncts will receive 15% of the full-course pay. They also receive a 50% subsidy for health insurance.

Tufts University’s union contract is very similar to Northeastern’s, although Tufts’ contract included more job stability and larger salaries for some adjuncts. St. Michael’s College’s adjuncts will receive a 10% per course pay increase and a $1,000 per course cancellation fee. Hamline University in St. Paul will pay their adjuncts 15% more in 2016 and an additional 20% in 2017-18, as well as compensation for late course cancellations. Point Park University adjuncts will receive a 23% pay increase, job security, and late course cancellation pay.

Combined, these contracts show universities what life would look like if their adjuncts unionize. Adjuncts are receiving double-digit pay increases, pay for canceled courses, job security akin to a modified tenure track, and health care coverage or subsidies at some schools. These contracts also provide a roadmap to universities that want their adjuncts to remain union free.

Matt Austin is a lawyer based in the Columbus, Ohio office of Roetzel & Andress, LPA who limits his practice to representing employers dealing with labor, employment, and OSHA matters. You can call Matt at (614) 723-2010 or email him at