In Keene, Some Professors Make $18,000 a Year

Professors in Keene are fighting for a union contract. Even if they want to work full-time, their employer, River Valley Community College, only lets them work 20 hours a week, for which they are paid about $18,000 a year, Ken Relihan told the Valley Post on March 23. He is a professor at the college and lives in Alstead, New Hampshire, near Keene. He has taught Humanities at River Valley Community College for three years. “You can ask to teach three courses and they often don’t tell you until the last minute how many you will get,” he said. Professors are paid $2,000 for each course they teach. The college doesn't allow professors to teach more than three courses per semester. A professor who teaches in the spring, summer, and fall semesters gets about six weeks of unpaid vacation per year, Relihan said.

In 2011, professors at River Valley, and at New Hampshire’s other community colleges, voted to form a union. Their union’s web site is Since then, the state has refused to sign a contract. The workers are asking the public to contact the governor and their state legislators and tell them to give the professors a fair contract.

On March 11, 2013, professors from community colleges around New Hampshire held a rally for justice at Manchester Community College. To be a professor at a community college, one must have at least a master's degree, Relihan said.

In recent decades, the richest Americans have gotten richer, while the middle class has gotten smaller and the ranks of the poor have swelled. Union workers in the U.S. make about 29 percent more money than non-union workers. That’s around $9,300 a year extra for the average worker who joins a union. For Latino workers, the union advantage is about 50 percent; for black workers, approximately 31 percent. This data is from

Millions of workers in the U.S. are union members, including workers at Stop and Shop and UPS.

Non-union workers can be fired at any time for no reason. Workers who belong to a union can only be fired for just cause.

More information about unions in the Valley is at:


No Due Process at Goddard College

When I began working at Goddard College in 2003, the pay for half-time faculty was $12,000.00. It was so low that this position was posted as an “internship” by College Art Association. UAW Local 2322 got us more pay -- $28,000 by 2011 for a little over a half-time position.

Unfortunately, we were so distracted by low salaries and working part-time at other colleges to subsidize our meager pay that we overlooked important issues. Since 2009 I noticed there were no procedures for conflict resolution. This led to grievances, retaliation, and my dismissal. After teaching at Goddard for over eight years with positive evaluations from other supervisors, faculty, and students, I was dismissed by my supervisor with no just cause or due process.

The former president of UAW Local 2322, and the former faculty union president, told me to resign without investigating my case. UAW’s International Representative eventually wrote a rebuttal to my former supervisor’s malicious evaluation. However, she did not ask that I be reinstated and reneged on her “commitment” to take my case to arbitration.

I still have not received any response from Goddard College as to why I was dismissed. I refused to settle and filed a discrimination and retaliation complaint with state and federal agencies.

Judy Hiramoto
San Francisco

Even for low-wage work, that's low

The pay you report -- $2,000 per class -- is among the lowest of the low for higher education faculty. At that rate, these people are making about $14 an hour. With the 20-hour cap, it's $9 per hour. Nationally, contingent faculty at state colleges and universities (where there is often a union) make $4,000 and up per class and contingent community college faculty typically make $3,000 and up.

Teachers' working conditions are student's learning conditions. New Hampshire (and Vermont, for heaven's sake) should welcome a unionized community college faculty and lean hard on the system to agree to a decent contract. Resistance to efforts to bargain stick out as a smear on New Hampshire's reputation as a state that cares about education.

Helena Worthen
Jamaica, Vermont 05343

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