The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Letter to the Editor: “Vote YES to unionize”

Dear Editor,

In October of 2010 I suffered a heart attack while checking into the Leonard Center. My son and I were on our way to the field house for a baseball workout when I became dizzy and collapsed at the base of the check-in desk. Due to the quick and appropriate actions of several members of the athletic staff, who found me blue and unresponsive, I was saved. I remember waking up in the emergency room of the U of M hospital surrounded by my son, friends, and family.

I will always be grateful to those first responders who saved my life.

That night marked the beginning of my long battle with a rare disease that has no known cause or cure, and has landed me on a heart transplant list. This was also the start of overwhelming financial hardships that resulted in part from working for an employer who, as a member of the contingent faculty, offered me no health insurance. Within weeks of my campus collapse my medical bills had reached around $500,000.

Given the uncertainty of my health and financial situation it would have been reassuring to at least know I had job security. But as contingent faculty there was none. For the past five years as a Macalester employee I have never known if I would have a job the following semester.

While the details of my story may be dramatic, they are not unique. Contingent faculty live in a constant state of emergency, trying to make ends meet while teaching a majority of the classes at this elite institution. In order to support families, contingent faculty members often supplement their earnings with food stamps and other forms of social welfare.

This should not be the case. Contingent faculty should have the right to bargain with the Macalester administration for the kind of working conditions many Americans take for granted. We should have the opportunity to stand on equal footing with management and ask for what we need to make a decent living, to ensure some measure of job security, and to safeguard that security with healthcare.

I urge my colleagues to vote YES to unionize, and thank all of you in the Macalester community who support this effort.

Jon Lurie, Contingent Faculty, Macalester English Department

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