All posts by hcushman

Contact Us

If you have any questions about your union contract, or if you’re having issues, please reach out to your union and your faculty union representatives.

 

Jeremy Thompson: jthompson@seiu509.org

Tentative Agreement Reached!

Averting Mass Faculty Protest, Administrators Reach Contract Settlement with Adjuncts at Bentley University

Tentative four-year agreement improves wages and teaching conditions for more than 200 faculty at the Waltham campus

WALTHAM, MA – Adjunct faculty at Bentley University reached a contract settlement late Friday evening with campus administrators – a four-year agreement that makes meaningful progress in compensation and course stability, professional development and the faculty role in decisions that affect their work. Facing anunprecedented faculty and alumni protest that was set to begin Monday, administrators came back to the table this week for negotiation sessions overseen by a federal mediator. The resulting settlement is subject to a ratification vote by affected Bentley faculty.

Among the gains in the four-year tentative agreement:

  • Meaningful increases in compensation: Adjunct faculty will receive across-the-board
    increases in per-course pay over the life of the contract.
  • Improved Course Stability: For the first time, Bentley has committed to promoting greater predictability and consistency in who teaches courses semester-to-semester.
  • Professional Development Fund: Bentley adjuncts will have access to funding to support research, scholarship, civic engagement and professional practice that contribute to the learning experience on campus.
  • A True Voice on Campus: Adjunct faculty have codified their academic freedoms and established a formal process to weigh in and address workplace conflicts and violations. 

“Negotiations like these are never easy, but both faculty and the administration remained committed to the process,” said Summar Sparks, a bargaining team leader and Adjunct Lecturer in Expository Writing. “After Friday’s marathon mediation session, I’m glad we were able to reach an agreement that we can bring back to our colleagues for a vote.”

The tentative agreement caps off a three-year effort by more than 200 professors at Bentley, who voted to join Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 509’s Faculty Forward division in February of 2015. In the ensuing months, elected officials, community leaders, students and alumni joined part- and full-time faculty in an unprecedented public campaign to improve teaching and learning conditions at the Waltham campus.

“Thank you to all the students, alumni, community members and faculty from other institutions who took the time to write letters and keep the campus community informed,” said Joan Atlas, an Adjunct Professor in English and Media Studies who represents her colleagues in the Bentley Faculty Senate. “We know their support and activism made a big difference at the bargaining table.”

Friday’s settlement marked the latest milestone in the growing faculty union movement in Massachusetts – with nearly 4,000 instructors now joined in a shared effort to raise standards and improve the overall quality of higher education through SEIU Local 509. Contingent faculty broke new ground this spring with strong first contracts at Boston University and Northeastern, following landmark agreements atTufts and Lesley last year. Negotiations are underway among non-tenure-stream faculty at Brandeis University. Full-time lecturers and instructors have also entered the fray in recent months, netting landslide union victories at Tufts, BU and Lesley.



For interviews with professors leading the bargaining process, contact Gabriela Camargo Martins at (774) 326-0535 or gcmartins@seiu509.org. 

Pay Us What We’re Worth

Dear Colleague,

Last week we finally had federal mediation with the administration. While we were able to make progress around some unresolved issues in the contract, it is clear that the administration has no intention of paying us what we are worth.

After a Year of Negotiations, and Three Years Without a Raise, The Administration Still Insults Us.

The administration proposed to increase per course pay from $5,000 to $5,788 by the 2020-2021 academic year. That means in five years, an adjunct faculty member teaching four courses a year would earn $23,152 without benefits.

A floor specialist at Bentley makes $43,000 with benefits. A dispatcher makes $35,000 with benefits. These are full time jobs and these people deserve to make a living wage, but adjuncts, with advanced degrees, who are integral to the educational mission of the university, will continue to be the lowest paid people on campus.

What We Should Be Paid:

Our proposal would increase per course pay to $7,500 per course by the 2018-2019 academic year. That means three years from now an adjunct teaching four courses would earn $30,000 with no benefits. It would cost the university well under a million dollars more in the third year, which is just .5% of revenue and about .7% of net tuition revenue at the end of the third year — a tiny fraction of what the university spends each year.

Bentley’s lawyers and deans conceded that:

  1. We may be right in our contention that the adjuncts’ work is valuable to the university.
  2. We may be right that there is a 20% increase in work because of the per course contact hours that have been added this year and last
  3. We may be right about the minimal cost to the university

BUT NONE OF THIS MATTERS TO THEM.

The administration feels they don’t need to pay us a cent more than they already do – according to the administration, this minimal increase comes out of pure generosity.

It is clear that we have to proceed with our protest on July 25th.

Direct action is the only way to get the media attention and community support that we need to pressure the administration into offering us a deal we can work with.

 


Monday, July 25th

4:00 PM

Bentley University

175 Forest St.

Waltham, MA 02452

All of us must be involved in order to make progress.

R.S.V.P. HERE



We have one more mediation scheduled before our protest.

 

Your presence will help. Will you be there?R.S.V.P. Here

Friday, July 22nd

9:30 AM

99 Summer St., Boston, MA

Suite #510

Facebook Event: www.BentleyAdjuncts.org/Facebook725

Sincerely,

Bentley Adjunct Faculty Union

We Prepare for Federal Mediation

 

 

We have scheduled three negotiation sessions with a federal mediator, but so far the administration has canceled two of them. Monday is our third scheduled mediation and we hope to make major progress towards ensuring higher pay and job security for all Bentley adjuncts.

 Your presence will help.

Support from the Bentley Community:

 Over the past few months, alumni, students and faculty have written letters of support for Bentley adjuncts, urging the administration to stop dragging their heels and come to a fair agreement. In the last month we’ve forwarded hundreds of these letters to the Board of Trustees, so the entire administration can see the real human impact of low pay and no job security on their faculty, and see the overwhelming support adjuncts have in the Bentley community.

Bentley Is Being Left Behind:

At the end of May, Boston University adjunct faculty approved their first Union contract. The agreement significantly improves compensation over the next three years and gives adjunct faculty preferred status to teach courses that they previously taught. Boston University now joins Tufts, Lesley and Northeastern as the latest university in the Boston area to reach an agreement that improves pay, shows greater respect for adjuncts, and provides greater job security.

Elected Officials Express Their Concern:

 Local politicians have written letters to Gloria Larson expressing their concern that the administration has not reached an agreement with the adjuncts. Bentley cannot be the only school in the area that refuses to give its faculty meaningful pay increases and some form of job security — local officials are paying attention.

If Bentley Won’t Come Around:

 If the administration continues to refuse to come to a reasonable agreement, we will shine a spotlight on the disparities between Bentley’s public commitment to business ethics and the reality the administrations treatment of adjunct faculty throughout negotiations. On July 25th we will come together at the Center for Business Ethics 40th Anniversary Celebration to protest this disparity. We will be joined by allies from other universities and many concerned outside organizations from all over Boston. In this effort we must stand united  a few of us cannot be left to fight on behalf of everyone else.

All of us must be involved in order to make progress.

R.S.V.P. HERE

Fair Contract Now!

Dear Colleague,

We all know that it’s been over a year since we voted overwhelmingly to form a union, and we’ve been working towards a collective bargaining agreement ever since. The negotiation process has been long and difficult in the face of an administration that has vehemently resisted all of our attempts to improve pay and job security for adjuncts, but last week was an exciting week for our campaign!

Faculty Senate Speaks Out

At Faculty Senate on Wednesday, April 6th our only adjunct faculty representative, Joan Atlas, gave a statement about the state of adjunct negotiations and the oppressive atmosphere that permeates our school. The administration has insisted that Faculty Senate should not be informed about what is happening during negotiations, and they’ve worked hard to silence any public examination of these issues, so Joan had to speak up during the “other items” portion of the meeting. To see a full copy of Joan’s remarks, click here.

This inspired a 45-minute discussion where many members of Faculty Senate expressed support for our goals, especially fairer pay for adjunct faculty and more transparency around the process.

Adjunct Faculty Take Action at the Open HouseBentley 040916

Saturday, April 9th was Bentley’s Open House for accepted students. There were over 800 potential students on campus with their families learning about Bentley, but we had faculty, students and supporters there too — teaching them about the adjunct experience at Bentley.

We handed out flyers and spoke to people as they came in. Then we took to the stairs of the library to speak out about the    treatment we have faced from the administration. In addition to full-time and part-time Bentley faculty, allies from Interfaith Worker Justice and adjuncts from other schools in the area also came to show their support.

We didn’t try to discourage anyone from coming to Bentley, or undo all the work people had put in to make the Open House a success — but we did take the opportunity to make sure our voice was heard.

Sincerely,

Bentley University Adjunct Union

Happy Valentine’s Day, From Out Students

As our bargaining committee continues to push for higher pay and more job security for all adjuncts at Bentley, the students showed their love and support for our cause too. As we go back and forth with the administration, it’s heartwarming to recognize that the students see our hard work and support our efforts for fairer treatment. 

On Thursday, in LaCava, students collected signatures on a Valentine to adjuncts and handed out flyers explaining how the school can afford to pay adjuncts fairly and that it has a moral obligation to do so.
The truth is that it would cost about 1 penny more out of each dollar of Bentley’s revenue to improve the pay of adjunct faculty over the next three years. At a time when the school is preparing to spend $45 million to build a new hockey rink, committing an extra one percent for fair adjunct professor pay seems trivial. 
The students understand that it is time for the Bentley administration stop trivializing its commitment to pay for teaching. The students are demanding that the administration make the choice to increase the pay of their lowest paid professors. They see it as a choice and a statement of the values that Bentley says that it stands for. Bentley should choose to treat and pay faculty fairly; we know it, the students know it, and soon the administration will know it too.

December Bargaining Update

The Bentley Administration Should Value Teaching

 

Students pay the same tuition, receive the same credits and have the same expectations from their professors whether a course is taught by an adjunct or full-time teaching faculty member. There is no reason we should be paid less for the same work – teaching.

Further, adjunct pay has not gone up in over two years and now the administration is planning to increase contact hours 20% per course by increasing the length of classes and the semester.

We proposed increasing our pay by at least $1,000 per course each year for the next three years. This covers the increased contact time with students and makes meaningful progress toward parity with full time teaching faculty.

The Bentley administration’s response is to continue to use adjunct faculty as a source of cheap labor that reduces the cost of classroom teaching rather than as filling an important instructional need for our university and our students.

The administration’s proposal:

• Offers only a one-time $75 increase for arts & science classes and a $375 increase for business classes.
• Tries to create a wedge between business and arts & science adjunct faculty by offering pennies more for teaching business courses.
• Ignores the 20% increase in classroom time by not offering to pay for our additional time.

Adjuncts must make it clear that pay for our work and making meaningful progress towards parity is important to all of us and to our students.

Vanguard Article

vanguard

Adjunct Union Updates Series: The Union Side of It

By Murrows Boys

It was back in February of 2015 when 108 Bentley University adjuncts voted in favor of unionizing. Joining a movement of several other colleges and universities in the New England area that had already done the same, Bentley’s adjunct union currently stands without an official contract in place, despite seemingly reasonable and fair demands. As the group of individuals in support of such changes continues to grow, including an increasing presence of both Bentley staff and students, union officials are hoping that a breakthrough in negotiating efforts is close at hand. Although multiple meetings between union representatives and the Bentley administration have taken place since the creation of the union, with additional meetings already scheduled well into the following academic semester, disagreements on compensation increases, benefits entitlements, and employment incentives have repeatedly stalled progress in the formation of a working settlement. Yet with the offers presented by union leaders, among them by Bentley Faculty Senate adjunct representative, Joan Atlas, a closer look into the specific requests set forth by the union body reveal a sensible and valid call for better adjunct treatment.

The central focus of the union goals begins with compensation. At the present moment, adjunct professors are paid $5,000 per course and are limited to instructing two courses per semester. At the maximum level, adjuncts are capped at earning $20,000 per academic year without access to any form of subsidized benefits, a perk that many other Bentley part-time employees are entitled to. At that rate of income, adjuncts receive roughly $4,000 less than the established federal poverty level for a family of four ($24,250). Not to mention the fact that courses may be cancelled at any time before the beginning of the semester if it fails to meet adequate enrollment, leaving such professors out $5,000 with no promise of reimbursement and minimal opportunity to find work elsewhere. This was exactly the case for Economics professor, Charles Saccardo, a twenty-one year Bentley veteran and member of the adjunct negotiating committee who lost one of his regularly held economics sections due to insufficient student sign-ups. In spite of having twenty-one years of Bentley teaching experience under his belt, Saccardo came away with one less course for the semester, a serious hit to the already tight income that Bentley provides him and other adjuncts with.

“I’m going to have to take $5,000 out this semester just to meet my commitments. And that really has been a sore spot for me,” Saccardo commented in an interview on December 5th. Other adjuncts feel very much the same way surrounding the apparent inaction by Bentley counterparts to recognize adjunct seniority, regardless of the fact that adjuncts teach nearly 30% of all undergraduate courses and are expected to deliver the same quality of learning as all other full-time employees.

The union proposal for compensation increases is not a ridiculous demand either. At a steady wage increase of $1,000 per course, with an added 10% bonus for professors with six semesters’ or more experience, union leaders are calling for a $6,000 base compensation for adjunct faculty beginning in the spring 2016 semester, with increases of $1,000 increments into the spring of 2018. The $1,000 increase in year one represents a 20% raise in base pay per course, but in actuality reflects a figure that is still less than what the union argues is mathematically equivalent to the work that they do. In other words, take a look at the following: the added five minutes to each course meeting as a result of the newly modified schedule, or 6.7% increase in class time, sums to a 14.9% total increase in expected teacher effort per course, given the anticipated plan of 28 meetings throughout the semester—valued at $745 of pay.

At a typical combined tax rate of 20% on the $1,000 raise and union dues of 1.5% on the $6,000 gross pay, $1,035 is the resulting amount, $35 more than the union’s own request. In overview, union representatives explain that such modest wage increases would take a mere one-third of one percent of Bentley’s annual revenue from just simple tuition and fees in the first year of implementation. In the third year of the proposal, one percent, or simply, “Just a penny on the dollar,” would be subtracted, according to Joan Atlas. For a group that hasn’t received a raise in three consecutive years, as opposed to the rest of the entire Bentley faculty and staff, it appears that the proposed increase in pay is not only deserved but also long overdue.

In response to the October 28th proposal, Bentley administration counteroffered by proposing a raise of $75 for arts and sciences adjuncts and $375 for business adjuncts – a rather uncooperative answer to the adjunct union’s seemingly reasonable request. One of the main concerns on the administration’s mind was that the resulting faculty raise would force them to also raise student tuition.

However, tuition has consistently increased for years now, but adjunct compensation has remained the same. Compared to the planned $80 million dollar expenditure on renovations to Jennison Hall and the construction of a new campus hockey arena, which are both necessary projects, asking for 1% of what the school receives in tuition and fees per year is, “A drop in the bucket,” says union organizer, Heather Cushman, of the Massachusetts Union for Human Service Workers & Educators. Overall, such an increase would not be powerful enough to elicit a dramatic change in the amount Bentley must charge for tuition.

On top of compensatory changes, Bentley adjuncts have also requested entitlement to benefits that many other fellow Bentley part-timers presently enjoy. Included are insurance coverages, retirement eligibilities, tuition remissions, and flexible spending accounts. The administration’s response was a rejection of any increased access to benefits.

“It’s become a difficult process, and the administration does not seem to be open to making significant change for what is 40% of the faculty – a faculty that does a huge amount of the teaching of introductory courses as well,” Joan Atlas further added.

For a school that is known for taking a leadership role in issues such as business ethics and corporate citizenship, it would rationally follow that Bentley would reciprocate its words with fair and equal treatment of its adjunct faculty. As it seems right now, such is not the case. With a growing base of supporters, including a particularly encouraging voice from Bentley’s own tenured faculty, agreement on a working deal could appear sooner rather than later. Until then, union representatives remain hard at work to gain what they believe are respectable changes in adjunct faculty policy.”

 

Click here to see the full article on the Vanguard’s web page.

​OCTOBER 28 BARGAINING UPDATE

It’s time for Bentley to stop the bullying and start bargaining with adjunct faculty

Given our contribution to the university, we should not be treated as cheap, disposable academic labor. We made this point clear in our contract negotiation session Wednesday – and asserted that it is time for the Bentley administration to stop bullying and start bargaining in good faith.

The Vital Role We Play

At Bentley, adjunct faculty are hired to meet critical educational and staffing needs.We often teach courses that full-time faculty don’t teach. We contribute a unique perspective based on our professional experience and academic knowledge, which expands departmental offerings. We also teach many of the required introductory courses, giving tenured and tenure-track faculty more opportunity to focus on scholarship and teaching upper-level and graduate courses.
In fact, we teach one out of four courses to Bentley students. Our courses and expertise are vital to the educational mission of the university.

Changing the Paradigm

Our contract proposals aim to change the current paradigm and force the administration to face how it views the role of adjuncts in the university. Most recently, we proposed contract language that increases job security with one-year contracts and course guarantees – as well as a compensation proposal that, over three years, gets pay per course equal to full-time lecturers. Our proposal would also secure benefits equal to that of other part-time employees at the university.
These proposals challenge the administration to decide whether adjuncts are in fact filling an instructional staffing need, or are merely a way to reduce the cost of instruction.

Disappointing Response from the Administration

Instead of offering constructive counter proposals, the Bentley administration responded in two disappointing ways:
  • First, they warned us that if they paid adjuncts fairly and made the positions more stable, they may have less of a need for us because they would lose all the operational financial advantages of having adjuncts in the first place.
  • Second, they questioned our teaching ability and threatened that too many adjuncts survived not because of excellent teaching, but through the inertia and laziness of department chairs who don’t evaluate teaching performance.

Threats Won’t Be Tolerated    

We were clear in our response. As long as Bentley continues to rely on adjunct faculty, adjuncts should have more stable, predictable jobs and our teaching should be paid equally to other teaching faculty.
Threats won’t be tolerated, and we hope you’ll join us at an upcoming negotiation session to drive this point home. It is time that the Bentley administration stops bullying and starts bargaining!

Protect Your Academic Freedom

Bargaining Update from October 2, 2015

On Friday we had our most recent bargaining session with the administration. It is clear we have very different ideas of what is important to students and faculty as a whole. A glaring difference is the fact that administrators don’t value the academic freedom of the faculty.

The gradual erosion of tenure and increased use of adjunct faculty undermines academic freedom throughout the university. In the administration’s view, adjuncts are disposable; they don’t need a reason to fire (or not-reappoint) an adjunct. The lack of job security means we are forced to be cautious about the content of our courses, our independent scholarship and practice or are public activity. None of this bodes well for the intellectual life of Bentley or the educational experience of our students.

While the administration claims to recognize the importance of academic freedom – as higher education institutions do – there is a serious disconnected between what Bentley says and what they do. The Bentley Faculty Handbook recognizes academic freedomrights of tenured faculty. The administration says this policy applies to adjuncts, but there is no recourse if our academic freedom is violated. The easy answer is to provideprotection and recourse in our union contract, but the administration refuses to agree.

Academic freedom is central to the mission of how universities across the country. If the Bentley administration can’t grant this basic right, how are we supposed to come to any agreement?