AACC adjunct faculty gets right to form union


Photo courtesy of Rachel Mann

Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman speaks at an event celebrating the first day adjunct faculty had the right to unionize on Sept. 1.

Sam Gauntt, Associate Editor

Some AACC adjunct faculty members are collecting signatures in an effort to form a union.

A vote in the Maryland Legislature in 2021 allowed community college faculty and staff to unionize after Sept. 1.

“This fight has been going on for years,” Courtney Buiniskis, an adjunct professor who represents adjunct faculty on The Faculty Organization, said. “I want adjuncts to be, you know, included in more things. Looked at as equals.”

Adjuncts are part-time faculty. Forming a union would allow them to negotiate a contract for pay, benefits and workplace conditions.

“What we’re looking foris kind of an equality,” José Gonzalez, an adjunct technology professor, said. “Let’s be partners in this.”

Unionizing efforts for adjunct faculty began more than 10 years ago, with many adjuncts advocating for better pay, said Buiniskis, who teaches communications.

Adjunct health professor Susan Noble said she is not looking to join a union.

“I’ve honestly not paid attention to it,” Noble, head coach for women’s cross-country, said. “I’m pretty choosy about who’s going to get my attention, and right now my students and my athletes need it. And I’m not looking. I take my contract on a semester-by-semester basis.”

Approximately 67% of AACC faculty are adjunct, according to College Factual.

“We will vote on whether we want to form a union or not, [but] that has not happened yet,” Gonzalez said. “That would require that a certain percentage of the adjunct population at Anne Arundel Community College approve of this.” At least 30% of adjuncts must sign a petition to trigger a vote.

Linda Neuman, an adjunct professor of English Language Learning, said it is possible to form a union even without holding a vote if 50% of adjuncts sign up.

Linda Páez, an adjunct Spanish professor, said other community colleges have formed unions without an impact on tuition.

Buiniskis said she wants unionization to increase benefits for adjunct staff, and to improve communication with the college. 

“I absolutely love teaching, but at the same time, it deserves more dignity, more respect, more pay [and] more benefits,” Buiniskis said. “I want our voices to be heard.”