Chapter 30 President Philip Inwood Asked to Talk About Union Involvement
Philip Inwood has seen the impact that being in a union can have. He’s helped improve conditions for fellow adjunct faculty at Plymouth State University and he gained insurance for the first time in years when the state expanded Medicaid — a campaign Inwood was deeply involved in through SEA/SEIU Local 1984.
It makes sense, then, that when Sen. Bernie Sanders came to Plymouth on Tuesday in support of Hillary Clinton and the Democratic ticket, he asked Inwood to say a few words about the importance of unions for working people.
“It was a great honor and a great opportunity,” said Inwood, who’s president of Chapter 30, the PSU Teaching Lecturers. “I felt very comfortable up there talking about things that we’re fighting for that are very real, like pay equity. This isn’t some philosophical, far away idea.”
As he noted in his few minutes at the microphone, adjunct faculty at Plymouth State have no job security and no benefits, and make up more than half the faculty at the college.
While the fight for pay equity continues, he and his colleagues have seen some positive change. He told the crowd that in the years since the union formed, he’s seen people more willing to talk and work through issues.
For those, like him, who couldn’t afford health care, Medicaid expansion in New Hampshire was a huge deal — something that wouldn’t have come about without a lot of work from labor unions and support from political leaders. He gave a shout-out to Gov. Maggie Hassan — who spoke later in the event — for her role in making expanded Medicaid a reality.
“You want politicians who are willing to fight for something,” he said of Hassan. “That was such a tough fight. That was my way of personally thanking her.”
Looking ahead to next Tuesday, Inwood said he worries there will be low voter turnout, especially among students. He said that the issue of student loan debt — which Sanders spoke about at length on Tuesday — might be the one thing that gets them active and out to vote.
“When you’re a student, you’re kind of kept quiet,” he said. “You’re not empowered. You have a lot of energy but you don’t feel like you can change much. I talk about student loans because they’re not always educated about the options that are out there. You have a feeling because it’s a federal loan that it’ll be fine.”
Instead, Inwood said, the average student in New Hampshire walks away from college with around $30,000 in debt. That’s not a great situation to be in when the economy is trending more toward part-time jobs with no benefits — a trend that won’t be stopped without workers uniting together. First, though, people need to come together on Election Day.
“On Tuesday, we must get out and vote for candidates who’ll support working people,” Inwood said.