My name is Amy Higer and I am running on the “Faculty for a Democratic Union” slate for at-large member of the PTL Executive Board. I am also a member of the Rutgers Adjunct Rank-and-File Caucus (RA-RFC), which PTLs from all three campuses formed this spring with the goal of making our union chapter more responsive to the needs of its members, more transparent, and more democratic.
I have been teaching at Rutgers University since the late 1990s. I am running for the E-Board because I believe that Rutgers can and must do much better by its adjunct faculty. PTLs are outstanding educators. We contribute invaluable labor to the university, and we deserve better employment terms and conditions than the university now provides. I believe strong unions are vital to the quality of higher education and integral to democracy.
I have an MA in International Affairs from American University’s School of International Service, and a doctorate in Politics from Brandeis University. I keep up with research in my field, but teaching is my passion. I have taught as both an adjunct and non-tenure track instructor at Vassar College, NYU, CUNY, Seton Hall School of Diplomacy, and Rutgers. I know that I am a better teacher when I feel my work is valued. Rutgers does not value what I do. It treats adjuncts as dispensable.
I decided to seek a leadership position in our PTL Union in part because I have first-hand experience with the abuse of power by university administrators. I filed a grievance against Rutgers a few years ago for arbitrary and sudden termination of my NTT contract. The union helped me win a favorable settlement. Without union support, I cannot imagine what I would have done. In my years of experience at Rutgers, I have found that this kind of abuse of power by administrators is, sadly, not uncommon. We need a strong union because we deserve better, and our students deserve better.
I am also running because I was upset about the university’s unwillingness to give us a fair contract. Rutgers relies heavily, and increasingly, on adjunct labor, but it has treated us as peripheral. The university cannot function without our labor. We deserve a living wage, access to affordable health care, and job security. As the largest public university in NJ, and one of the largest in the region, Rutgers has an outsize role to play in how colleges treat their adjunct faculty. We need a vibrant, active, and energized union to fight for us. I am ready to take on a more active role in this fight. Thank you for your time and consideration.