Register for
Email Updates

MassUniting Blog

Meet the 89 Percent: Survey Reveals Rampant Wage Theft Among Fast Food Workers

Fast food workers call on their employers to stop wage theft

Fast food workers call on their employers to stop wage theft at an action in Boston on March 18, 2014.

We’ve heard a lot about the 99% and the 1% over the last few years. Now, meet the 89%.

That’s how many fast-food workers reported dealing with wage theft on the job.

Earlier this week, a national poll of fast-food workers revealed that a significant majority of employees at corporations like McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s face this problem on a daily basis.

This survey comes on the heels of revelations from two former McDonald’s managers about being forced to steal from workers using practices that include shaving time off of schedules, editing time sheets and not paying overtime.

Companies like McDonald’s and Burger King makes billions of dollars a year, yet pay their employees starvation wages that are barely enough to put food on the table. On top of that, they are engaging in practices that rob their employees out of their hard-earned money.

In addition to showing that nearly nine out of every 10 fast-food workers experience some form of wage theft, the poll shows:

  • 92 percent of Burger King workers, 84 percent of McDonald’s workers and 82 percent of Wendy’s workers are victims of wage theft;
  • 60 percent of fast-food workers have experienced three or more different types of wage theft;
  • 60 percent of fast-food workers have been required to perform tasks before clocking in or after clocking out;
  • 26 percent of fast-food workers have not always been paid time-and-a-half for overtime hours they worked.

Last month, McDonald’s workers in California, Michigan and New York took a stand and filed suit against the company for the wages that were owed them. All across the country, fast-food workers are joining the chorus to take a stand against these practices and fight for higher wages.

Think your boss might be stealing from you? Take the survey at Robbed On the Job to learn more.

Did you like this? Share it:

5th Graders Rally in Support of Fast-Food Workers

OHigher Wages, Stronger Communitiesn Sunday, fifth-grade students from the Boston Workmen’s Circle Jewish Cultural Sunday School became the newest champions in the fight for better wages and a voice on the job for fast-food workers.

Joined by parents and community supporters, and armed with signs, students marched from Franklin Park Zoo to hold a protest at the Burger King restaurant located in Dorchester’s Grove Hall. Taking charge of the bullhorn, they inspired the crowd with speeches and chants in support of hard-working fast-food workers.

With more than 250 cards collected from the community supporting workers, the group attempted to deliver them, only to be shut out by management. Not to be deterred, the students left the cards on Burger King’s doorstep.

Drawing on the history of Jewish immigrants who toiled in textile sweatshops, these students are demanding that Burger King, as well as other fast-food companies, offer livable wages, benefits, and workplace rights.

The demonstration is the latest part of a movement that started in late 2012, when 200 fast-food workers went on strike in New York City. This cause continues to spread across the nation, with workers in Boston and 59 other cities first striking on August 29. That number swelled to 100 cities on December 5 when thousands of workers across the country walked off the job.

IMG_9921With engaged heroes like this fifth-grade class, we can help bring about change for millions of fast-food workers across this nation.

Find out how at

Did you like this? Share it:

Santa’s Holiday Message for Burger King: Don’t Be a Grinch to your Workers!

Don't be a Grinch to your workersWith the holidays quickly approaching, Santa took a break from his busy schedule to stop by the Burger King in Dorchester this morning. With a team of Santa’s Helpers in tow, he delivered more than 250 cards from members of the community to management asking them not retaliate against workers who are making their voices heard in the fight for a living wage.

The holidays are a time of joy, but many fast-food workers will struggle not only to put presents under the tree, but also to put food on the table for their families. This holiday season, we’re asking everyone to take a minute to think about the people whose hard work helps Burger King rake in millions of dollars in profits every year, while they struggle day in day out.

Santa and his helpers make a delivery for Burger KingNo one who work hard every day should live in poverty, but that’s the reality for many employees at Burger King and other fast-food restaurants. That’s why fast-food workers across the country are fighting for $15 an hour and the right to form a union without retaliation.

This is a time for giving, and we’re asking fast-food corporations to give these hard-working employees the wages, compassion, and respect they deserve. Help us make this a reality, because everyone deserves a happy holiday.

For more information, go to

Did you like this? Share it:

Fast-Food Workers in Boston Join Nationwide Strike

Last week, the national fight to give fast-food workers a living wage and a voice on the job reached a higher pitch. On Thursday, December 5, the struggle to give these workers better working conditions culminated in strikes and rallies in more than 100 cities across the United States.

Fast-food companies, like Burger King and McDonald’s, are being put on notice: the efforts to keep their employees trapped in poverty will no longer be tolerated. From Providence to San Diego, workers and their supporters throughout the country are keeping up the call for a $15 an hour wage and the right to form a union.

In Boston, more than 100 fast-food workers, community, faith, labor and political leaders held a rally outside the Burger King located at 100 Washington Street in Dorchester.

“It’s not right that these companies rake in multi-million dollar profits, yet they pay their employees, like me, barely enough to scrape by” said Christopher Cobb, a Boston-area Burger King worker who is working to save for college while helping to support his family.

Fifteen dollars an hour is a fair wage. It’s a wage that will allow workers to keep a roof over their heads, and the heads of their families, and put food on the table. It will help put an end to heartbreaking stories about workers having to choose between putting clothes on their children’s backs and keeping the heat on.

By putting more money into the pockets of workers, we can get our economy moving again and strengthen our communities. For too long we have been subsidizing fast-food corporations – to the tune of $7 billion. While they rake in billion-dollar profits, they leave millions in poverty and burden hardworking taxpayers.

Last year, fast-food workers in New York said enough is enough. On August 29, thousands around country took to the streets, rallying around the spark they ignited. Last Thursday, fast-food companies were shown that workers aren’t going away – they’re going to keep fighting until the battle is won.

You can join the fight for higher wages. For more information, go to

Did you like this? Share it:

McDonald’s Tells Its Workers to Apply for Public Assistance

McDonald’s likes to make you think that they are always looking for ways to help their workers. That’s why they created the handy McBudget tool, which helped workers “make ends meet” without factoring in things like food, medical costs, or heat — all while assuming that their employees were working a second job.

To add insult to injury, McDonald’s is now promoting a  1-800 “McResource Line” for workers who need help. Do they offer workers raises or health benefits when they call about their problems making ends meet? No such luck. Watch what happened when Nancy, a McDonald’s employee and mother of 2 in Chicago called the McResources hotline:

This comes just a week after researchers at Berkeley showed that fast-food companies’ low wages shift nearly $7 billion in public assistance a year onto taxpayers, with McDonald’s accounting for $1.2 billion of that hidden cost.

Designed for employees who need financial, housing, childcare or other help, McResources operators actually direct those who call to apply for public assistance like food stamps and Medicaid.

Rather than paying their workers a living wage, McDonald’s relies on taxpayers to pick up the slack.

That’s one of many reasons that fast food workers are joining together nation wide to raise awareness about the impact of low wages in the community. Join the nationwide fight for higher wages at

Did you like this? Share it:

BNN: Study Measures Fast Food Sector Reliance on Wage Supports

Check out this great segment from BNN featuring our own Darrin Howell and Jeremy Thompson of the Economic Justice Research Hub talking about the impact of the low wages in the fast food industry:

Study Measures Fast Food Sector Reliance on Wage Supports from Chris Lovett on Vimeo.

Did you like this? Share it:

How the Fast Food Industry’s Low Wages Cost Massachusetts $173 Million a Year

Boston Fast Food Strike August 29People who work hard everyday shouldn’t have to depend on food stamps to get by. Yet for many who work at fast-food companies nationwide, it is a way of life.

This week, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley released a new report, Fast Food, Poverty Wages, that shows that fast-food jobs cost Americans nearly $7 billion every year. More than half of fast-food jobs pay so little that workers are on food stamps and other forms of public assistance.

“I would like for us to get a raise in order to live better and be able to support our families better,” Burger King worker Georgina Gutierrez told the Boston Globe. “To be working so hard and under so much pressure from management and to not earn something decent, is not easy.”

Question: how much do low-wage, no-benefit, fast-food jobs in Massachusetts cost taxpayers annually? Answer: $173 million.

Companies like McDonald’s and Burger King are making billions of dollars a year, yet they force workers to rely on taxpayers to get by. These corporations are draining money out of our communities, money that could be used to improve schools, invest in infrastructure and create jobs.

Jobs that pay workers so little that they are eligible for public assistance don’t help the economy–they hold it back. Fast food corporations like McDonalds and Burger King need to do the right thing and pay workers a living wage raise our pay so they can be independent.

In fact, fast-food companies rely on the fact that taxpayers will pick up the slack for their low wages. A companion report, Super-Sizing Public Costs, by the National Employment Law Project shows how much low-wage jobs cost the public at each of the 10 top fast-food corporations. McDonald’s topped the list, to the tune of $1.2 billion per year.

McDonald’s, which made $5.5 billion in profits last year, even tells employees that they should go apply for food stamps if they are having trouble getting by.

Our economy is stronger when consumers have more purchasing dollars in their pockets and don’t have to rely on help from the government. Boosting workers help boost our families, our communities and our Commonwealth and our nation.

Fast-food corporations should be putting money into workers’ pockets instead of draining money out of public programs to boost their profits.

Did you like this? Share it:

Help Raise Up Workers in Massachusetts

You have the opportunity to help change the economic landscape for more than a million workers across Massachusetts. All it takes is a clipboard and a pen.

Raise Up Massachusetts, a coalition of community, labor and faith organizations, launched a signature gathering effort in September to get two initiatives on the 2014 ballot: earned sick time and an increased minimum wage.

What does this mean for families in Massachusetts?

It means that no worker will have to worry about losing their job if they have to stay home because they are sick or have to care for a sick loved one. It’s means helping to level the playing field by providing workers with higher wages that they can use to pay bills and keep a roof over their heads.

The success of these initiatives will have a ripple effect. It’s simple math: the more purchasing dollars people have, the more they will spend those dollars in their communities. That helps stimulate the local economy and strengthens the Commonwealth as a whole.

Earned sick time is not just about staying home with the flu. It’s about having the time to go to the dentist. It’s about having the time to prevent minor problems from becoming serious conditions. This is a basic right that all workers should have access to.

To date, we have collected more than 75,000 signatures. We still have a way’s to go to meet our 230,000-signature goal. You can help us get to the finish line. Click here to get involved with the campaign.

You can also stay connect with us online to find out the latest updates and events. Like the Raise Up Massachusetts page on Facebook and join the conversation on Twitter by following @RaiseUpMA and using the hashtag #RaiseUpMA.

Did you like this? Share it:

Boston Fast-Food Workers Strike for Higher Pay

Boston-Photo-8On Thursday, August 29, Boston fast-food workers made history as part of the  thousands to walk off their jobs in more than 50 cities as part of the largest-ever strike to hit the $200 billion fast-food industry. Fast-food workers went on strike in Boston for the first time, joining a growing fight for $15 an hour and the right to form a union without retaliation or unfair labor practices.

With support from community members and elected officials, workers held strikes at McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, KFC, Popeye’s and Dunkin’ Donuts across the Boston area. The day of protests culminated at the Boston Common, where U.S. Senator Ed Markey lent his support to the struggles of fast-food workers.


Fast food is a $200 billion a year industry and retail is a $4.7 trillion industry, yet many service workers across the country earn minimum wage or just above it and are forced to rely on public assistance programs to provide for their families and get healthcare for their children. Nationally, the median wage for cooks, cashiers and crew at fast-food restaurants is just $8.94 an hour.

The strike made headlines in Boston and across the country, including segments on NECN, WCVB and WDHD, in addition to articles in the Boston Globe, Boston Metro and Springfield Republican — among others.

Join the nationwide fight for higher wages at

Did you like this? Share it:

August 29: Support Striking Fast Food Workers

Did you like this? Share it:

Seniors, RIDE Users Arrested to Protest of Fare Hikes

On Wednesday morning, more than 50 seniors, people with disabilities, and supporters took the continuing fight against the RIDE’s fare increases to the doorstep of Massachusetts Department of Transportation Secretary (MassDOT) Richard Davey.

Taking place in front of the Massachusetts Transportation Building, the rally brought traffic on Stuart Street to halt, calling for Secretary Davey personally to address fare hikes that have made seniors, and those with disabilities, prisoners in their own homes.MBTA Ride Fare Policy

To highlight this, seniors filled a mock jail cell, remaining there until members of the Boston Police Department arrested them.

Organized by the Massachusetts Senior Action Committee, the confrontation comes in the wake of failure by the state legislature, and transportation officials, to address the inequitable fares in both the recently passed transportation finance bill and the state budget process – and in spite of the MBTA reporting record revenue generated from fare collection!

MSAC-RIDE Protest 1 - Aug 14 2013On July 1, 2012, the RIDE fares doubled from $2 to $4 one-way, compared to the average 23-percent rate increases for all other modes of MBTA transportation. Fares rose to $5, or 150 percent, for seniors using the RIDE in “premium territory.” This has led to use of the RIDE plummeting 19 percent – nearly twice the estimate MBTA officials originally presented – since the new fares were implemented.

Another way of looking at it: this equals 500,577 fewer trips between July 2012 and July 2013, or 1,371 fewer trips each day.

These fare hikes affect many of the state’s most vulnerable – many which rely on this mode of transportation to go to work, attend church, to shop, to visit family, or connect with vital community resources.

Send a message to Secretary Davey and the officials at MassDOT to liberate the RIDE and stop making our seniors and people with disabilities prisoners.

For more information, go to or call 617-284-1234.

Did you like this? Share it:

Raise Up Massachusetts Launches Campaign to Provide Earned Sick Time, Raise the Minimum Wage for Workers

IMG_7771On Wednesday, July 24, hundreds braved the hot and humid weather in Boston to kick off the Raise Up Massachusetts campaign. The rally, held at the Massachusetts state house, was just one of the many events that took place across the state, where workers, community leaders and supporters called for an earned sick time and an increase in the minimum wage.

Activists have pushed for these issues for years without any result, but working families just can’t afford to wait any longer. That’s why the Raise Up Massachusetts announced that if the legislature refuses to take action, they’re prepared to bring these two important issues before the voters on the November 2014 ballot.

In a dozen cities across the state, workers shared their stories and emphasized how much working families would benefit from these changes. Members of the community and elected officials also added their support to the fight, and pledged to continue fighting until earned sick time and a higher minimum wage become a reality.

Raise Up Massachusetts

No one should ever have to chose between their health and their job, but that decision is a daily reality for nearly a million hard-working people in Massachusetts. Every day, workers without earned sick time are at risk of losing their livelihood if they need to stay at home to take care of themselves or a sick loved one.

Earned sick time isn’t just good for workers and their families — it’s also good for business. Not only does it help prevent the spread of illness throughout the workplace, but it also boosts productivity and reduces employee turnover.

Earned sick time isn’t the only issue impacting the daily lives of working families, Massachusetts is also long overdue for an increase in the minimum wage. The last time we saw an increase in the minimum wage was in 2008, yet the cost of every day expenses like rent, groceries and gas are continuing to rise. At the current minimum wage, even full time workers find it impossible to make ends meet.

This isn’t going to be easy. Corporate CEOs have long benefited from this kind of exploitation, and they won’t want to pay their workers more without a fight. To learn more about how you can get involved, visit

Check out photos from events across the state below:

Did you like this? Share it:

Hundreds Pack State House in Support of Minimum Wage

More than 750 Massachusetts residents descended on the State House last week to urge their legislators to raise the minimum wage. Workers, small business owners, economists, labor leaders, and community and faith leaders testified at a legislative hearing for a bill that would raise the minimum wage and index it to inflation, benefiting individuals, families, businesses, local communities and our entire economy.

The legislation (H. 1701/S. 878) would gradually raise the minimum wage from $8 to $11 an hour over 3 years and index it to inflation to maintain the wage’s purchasing power. The minimum wage in Massachusetts has not increased since January 2008. Since 1968, the real value of the minimum wage has fallen by 24 percent, according to the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center.

Check out the video below to see highlights from the testimony:

Did you like this? Share it:

Stand with Striking Walmart Workers

On strike!David Coulombe and Aubretia Edick work at Walmart in Massachusetts and on May 28, they went on strike. They are joining hundreds of other Walmart associates from across the country who are striking to demand an end to illegal retaliation against associates who speak out about higher wages and respect on the job.

During the first week of June, Walmart strikers will be traveling to Bentonville, AK to take their stories to the Walmart shareholders’ meeting on June 7th. Here in Massachusetts, we want to make sure Walmart shoppers and associates know why David and Aubretia are standing up and demanding respect.

Here are two things you can do right now to show solidarity and help spread their message:

This fight is far from over and workers like David and Aubretia are leading the way to a better future. Take a minute today to show them that you’ve got their backs.

Did you like this? Share it:

On Mother’s Day, Stories of Family Separation Highlight Need for Immigration Reform

For most of us, Mother’s Day is a time for families to come together and celebrate the women who are important in our lives. It’s a day of breakfast in bed, flowers and time spent together as a family. But for many immigrants separated from their families, Mother’s Day is another painful reminder of the real need for commonsense immigration reform.

Antonia is a mother of three whose legal status meant that she couldn’t return home or bring children to the United States for most of their childhood. In the years since she left El Salvador in search of opportunities for her family, Antonia has heard her three children grow up almost exclusively over the phone. Watch the video below to hear Antonia’s story, and what Mother’s Day means to her:

Maria came to America with her parents when she was just 6 years old. Her mother now lives in Mexico, and if Maria were to visit her, she wouldn’t be allowed to return to home to Chelsea, MA. Mother’s Day is an emotional holiday for Maria, whose mom is being treated for breast cancer. You can see Maria’s story and hear what Mother’s Day means to her here:

Antonia and Maria are just two of the many of stories that demonstrate the need for real, comprehensive immigration reform that includes a reasonable path to citizenship. No family should be torn apart because of outdated rules crafted decades ago — and it’s beyond time we took action.

As the immigration debate looms in Congress, more and more stories like these are emerging each day, showing the major impact reform will have in the lives of millions of immigrant families. Click here to join the call to fix our immigration system and pass comprehensive immigration form this year!

Did you like this? Share it:

Immigrant Parents, Families Gather to Celebrate Mother’s Day as Reform Debate Looms

Keep Families TogetherMore than two hundred immigrant parents and children gathered in East Boston Saturday for a Mother’s Day celebration with a clear message: ‘Keep Families Together.’ Organized by more than a dozen community groups – including MassUniting, Neighbors United for a Better East Boston (NUBE), SEIU Local 615 and the Student Immigrant Movement (SIM) – the event showed the real faces of the immigration debate that kicked off in Washington this week.

While the Mother’s Day celebration featured a festive, family-friendly atmosphere, participants also shared their personal stories of family separation caused by America’s broken immigration system. Many children took photos and made greeting cards to send to mothers in countries thousands of miles away and college students spoke of the need for a pathway to citizenship for young Americans-in-waiting, also known as ‘DREAMers.’

MothersDay_5-11-13-16“For too many parents and children, Mother’s Day is a harsh reminder of years spent separated from loved ones,” said Conrado Santos, a DREAMer who works with fellow young immigrants every day at Student Immigrant Movement (SIM). “We hope this holiday will remind congress of the real need to pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform that reunifies loving families.”

The Mother’s Day event in East Boston came as part of a nationwide push for action on Immigration Reform, which has mobilized tens of thousands of supporters throughout the country in recent weeks.


Did you like this? Share it:

Following Deadly Fires, Building Collapse, Dozens of Workers’ Rights Advocates Demonstrate in Cambridge

Nurul Kabir (Litu) of The Alliance for Secular and Democratic South Asia shares observations of Bangladeshi workplace conditionsConcerned by the growing death toll in a series of incidents in the Bangladesh garment industry, dozens of workers’ rights advocates and community members gathered Saturday to call on GAP Inc. to join other major retailers in a binding commitment to addressing workplace safety issues. The vigil and demonstration at GAP’s Harvard Square store in Cambridge came as labor and human rights leaders across the globe call for progress on a binding Bangladesh Fire & Building Safety Agreement. Major companies like PVH/Tommy Hilfiger and the large German company, Tchibo, have already signed the accord, despite GAP’s opposition.

Dozens of workers' rights advocates gathered outside GAP in Harvard Square Saturday“Too many people have died and more will unless GAP changes course,” said Paul Drake of Mass Interfaith Worker Justice, a leader in the local fight for workplace safety. “This latest disaster is proof that the time for excuses is over. We need action on a binding fire and building safety agreement now.”

A growing movement of garment workers and advocates are demanding that GAP and other major apparel retailers end their decades-long ‘self-regulatory’ approach to building and fire safety – policies that have led to more than 1,000 deaths in recent years. Just last week, at least 431 workers were crushed to death in the devastating collapse of another garment factory in Bangladesh, with hundreds more workers still unaccounted for.

Nearly a dozen organizations participated in Saturday’s vigil and demonstration, including Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia, the International Labor Rights Forum, Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety & Health (MASSCOSH) and Massachusetts Interfaith Worker Justice.

Security looks on as demonstrators are reflected in the windows of GAP's Harvard Square store

Did you like this? Share it:

Concerned Customers, Neighbors Push for Workers’ Rights at Mass. Walmart Stores

Neighbors share letter of concern with Walmart managementConcerned customers and neighbors fanned out to Walmart locations across the commonwealth today in a push to secure more transparent scheduling and improved hour allotments for the company’s retail Associates. The delegations delivered community-signed letters to management at more than two dozen Walmart locations statewide – including stores in Falmouth, Lynn, Northampton, Quincy, Salem and Worcester. Advocates also spoke with hundreds of workers to ensure they know their rights on the job.

In response to a massive Black Friday mobilization that targeted more than 1,000 stores nationwide, Walmart management made a commitment to making schedules more transparent and predictable for its Associates. Yet many workers report continued understaffing in stores, insufficient hour allotments and no tangible improvement in control over their schedules. The Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart), founded in 2011 by Walmart workers from across the country, has engaged customers and community allies to help hold Walmart management accountable to its commitments.

Area residents speak with Walmart workers in Quincy“We’re out here letting Walmart Associates know that they have rights, that management can and must do better in Massachusetts,” said Darrin Howell, a community advocate who engaged workers and management at Walmart’s Quincy, Mass. location. “We shouldn’t have to ask Walmart to provide their Associates with basic respect and dignity in the workplace, but we’ll do whatever it takes to hold them accountable.”


OUR Walmart supporters outside local store

OUR Walmart members are demanding basic rights on the job – including fair wages and benefits, safe working conditions and more transparent scheduling practices. In Massachusetts, support for this effort is being coordinated by the Massachusetts Stands Up to Walmart campaign – a coalition of workers, community organizations, and faith and labor leaders that led the successful effort to halt Walmart’s planned expansion into the Greater Boston Area.

Did you like this? Share it:

Thousands March for May Day in East Boston

In East Boston yesterday, chants of “Si se puede!” echoed throughout the city as more than 1,000  immigrant workers and community allies descended on Central Square in a massive call for improved wages, safer working conditions and comprehensive immigration reform. Under the shared banner of “Stop the attacks on working families!,” the unprecedented marches from Boston, Chelsea, Everett and Revere converged outside the East Boston Social Center in celebration of International Workers’ Day, also known as May Day.

MayDay2013-7With roots in the American struggle for the 8-hour workday, International Workers’ Day is celebrated in more than 80 countries around the world as a day to commemorate the ongoing fight for workers’ rights. Yesterday’s Boston-area celebration came as the debate over immigration reform intensifies in Washington – along with several pending bills on Beacon Hill affecting low-income and immigrant workers at the state level.

Across the country, International Workers’ Day events echoed the call for immigration reform in cities from New York to Milwaukee to Salem, OR.  And in Boston, more than fifty community groups came together for the 14th annual May Day march and rally. Among the crowd of 1,000 were hundreds of  low-wage immigrant workers – many of whom are in the midst of local battles for better wages and working conditions.

“I marched today in solidarity with my fellow airport workers who are struggling to make ends meet on minimum wage,” said Yahya Bajinka, a West African immigrant who works in aviation services at Logan Airport. “We shouldn’t have to work multiple jobs in sweatshop conditions just to get by. It’s time for change at Logan.”


Did you like this? Share it:

Massachusetts Adjunct Professors Kick Off Union Organizing Drive

Boston Higher Education Symposium

In 2012, four-year tuition at the average public university cost more than $15,000 – not counting books, meals or housing. At the average private institution, that figure was even higher, clocking in at over $32,000. Even two-year and vocational programs ran nearly $9,000 per certificate.

With the cost of higher education skyrocketing, it’s easy to assume that professors – the men and women who educate our students – are doing quite well for themselves. In some cases, that’s true: tenured faculty members’ salaries at leading universities can top $160,000 a year. But the average adjunct professor makes just $2,700 per course, with no health care insurance or other benefits.

Here’s the kicker: 76 percent of university faculty in the United States are adjunct professors. Most have to work at multiple universities and still don’t make enough to stay above the poverty line. And considering the amount of time involved in preparing, teaching and grading each class, many adjuncts make less than minimum wage.

With statistics like these, it’s no surprise that adjunct professors nationwide are forming unions through Adjunct Action, a project of the Service Employees International Union. This past weekend, faculty from more than 20 Bay State campuses kicked off their own organizing drive with an ‘Adjunct Faculty Symposium’ in Boston.

More than 100 professors from across Eastern Massachusetts gathered at the JFK Presidential Library Saturday for the daylong conference – discussing everything from classroom challenges to coalition building. Participants also met in small breakout groups to develop campus-specific organizing strategies and plan next steps, joined by scores of student supporters who were ready to stand in solidarity with their professors.

By the end of the symposium, adjunct professors were well prepared to launch organizing drives on campuses throughout greater Boston. And soon, they’ll be standing arm-in-arm with 15,000 other faculty members who have already unionized through Adjunct Action at SEIU.

For more information on the fight to raise wages and improve working conditions for adjunct faculty, check out this great interview from WBUR’s All Things Considered – or visit Adjunct Action online at

Did you like this? Share it: