Temple adjuncts find surprising allies in fast food protest movement

 Protesters gather at Temple University's Bell Tower (Bobby Allyn/WHYY)

Protesters gather at Temple University's Bell Tower (Bobby Allyn/WHYY)

Fast-food workers around the country held walkouts in dozens of cities on Wednesday to push for a $15-an-hour minimum wage. In Philadelphia, marchers rallied all day around Temple University, where they were joined by another coalition calling for higher pay: adjunct professors.

Among them was Ian Davisson, an adjunct at Temple who teaches courses in the university’s great books program. He said adjunct pay at Temple tops out at $22,000 a year, a sum that doesn’t take into account grading papers, sending emails to students and holding office hours.  “If you take all my hours together, I make about $11.50 an hour as a college professor. So $15 an hour would be a raise for me,” Davisson said. A new study by UC Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education found that one out of four part-time college faculty rely on public assistance to get by. Davison, who’s also part of an attempt to form an adjunct union on campus, said he’s hardly surprised. “I think we don’t like to think of fast-food workers and college professors as sharing a lot of the same issues. But in actuality, our conditions are very similar,” he said. Gov. Tom Wolf has said that he supports raising the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour, but, with the Republicans who control the legislature largely opposing it, the proposal faces unpromising odds.

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