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The Sad Death Of An Adjunct Professor Sparks A Labor Debate

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Note the date of this article – and also note nothing has change for the better in the last 10 years, in fact things have gotten worse. (ed note)

September 22, 20137:37 AM ET

Heard on Weekend Edition Sunday By  Claudio Sanchez

Read the full and original article here:

Adjunct professors at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh are trying to unionize. The death of a longtime, part-time employee has put the debate in a larger forum.

The death of a long-time, part-time professor in Pittsburgh is gathering the attention of instructors nationwide. The trend of relying on part-time faculty has been in the works for decades, and Margaret Mary Vojtko’s story is seen by some as a tragic byproduct.

Last spring, months before her death, Vojtko showed up at a meeting between adjunct professors at Duquesne University and the union officials who had been trying to organize them. The professors are trying to organize a union affiliated with the United Steelworkers.

Daniel Kovalik, senior counsel to the Steelworkers union, says Vojtko was distraught. “She had cancer; she had very high medical bills,” Kovalik says.

After 25 years of teaching French at Duquesne, the university had not renewed her contract. As a part-time professor, she had been earning about $10,000 a year, and had no health insurance.

“She didn’t want charity,” Kovalik says. “She thought that after working 25 years for Duquesne that she was owed a living wage and some sort of retirement and benefits.”

Vojtko died Sept. 1 after a heart attack at the age of 83, destitute and nearly homeless.

After her funeral, Kovalik submitted a biting op-ed piece to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, critical of how Duquesne had treated Vojtko. Almost immediately, a bigger debate unfolded on Facebook, Twitter and listervs.

Read more here:

What do you think? Have things gotten better or worse in the last 10 years?

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