Activism–Cuyahoga Community College

Adjuncts organize at the Tri-C JazzFest in Cleveland

Adjuncts organize at the Tri-C JazzFest in Cleveland

by David B. Wilder

Every year Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) sponsors JazzFest, an annual nationally renowned 3-day summer music festival held in Cleveland’s Playhouse Square.

Tri-C adjuncts, who have formed the Tri-C Adjunct Faculty Association, a campus organization affiliated with OPTFA (Ohio Part-Time Faculty Association), decided to bring our calls for equity to the public attending the festival this year. We discussed our plans with officers of the AFL-CIO North Shore Federation of Labor, who were very encouraging. The North Shore Federation of Labor voted on a resolution supporting our ongoing efforts last October. We received union help in producing materials.

We distributed leaflets with the headline “Jazz Up Higher Ed with Adjunct Equity” along with stickers for attendees to wear. The leaflet asked for support by tweeting #RespectTriCAdjuncts.

We also circulated a petition calling for Tri-C to recognize our rights to equitable pay and benefits, a dignified work environment and the freedom to form unions free from interference or retaliation. We found a very receptive public with many eager to sign—including public school teachers, current and former students, adjuncts from other colleges, and other supporters of worker’s rights. On the last evening we were told to leave the festival area by police on orders from the Tri-C festival organizers. Undaunted, we resumed our activity from a distance. We collected over 200 signatures in 3 days.

We will continue to circulate our public petition. One plan is to seek invitations to speak at local union meetings throughout the Cleveland area, asking the union sisters and brothers to support our cause.


David B. Wilder is co-chair of OPTFA and teaches art and art history at Cuyahoga Community College and John Carroll University.

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