An Adjunct Tragedy | The Nation

An Adjunct Tragedy | The Nation.

The proletarianization of higher education, according to the associate general counsel of the United Steel Workers Union, has now claimed a life. In a moving op-ed published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Daniel Kovalik, wrote this week of Margaret Mary Vojtko, a French teacher at Pittsburgh’s Dusquesne University whose tenure there—though it was, of course, a tenure without tenure—lasted twenty-five years, who just died at the age of 83. Receiving radiation therapy for cancer, living in a house that was nearly collapsing in on itself, and in receipt of a humiliating letter from Adult Protective Services informing her she had been referred to them as not being able to take care of herself, she turned to her union for help, because that is what unions do. Kovalik helped despite the fact that the Steel Workers did not, officially, represent her: Dusquesne adjuncts had voted overwhelmingly for the USW to represent them a year ago but the Catholic university has fought the certification of the election tooth and nail ever since, claiming their school’s religious beliefs should exempt them from federal labor laws. “This would be news to Georgetown University—one of only two Catholic universities to make U.S. News & World Report’s list of top twenty-five university—which just recognized its adjunct professors’ union, citing the Catholic Church’s social justice teachings, which favor labor unions.”

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