Category Archives: Dear Colleagues

Moving Past Contingency

bentley moving past contingency logo colorDear Colleague,

I began teaching psychology classes at Bentley fifteen years ago, in the fall of 2000. The department I was in has changed a number of times since then, but psychology is now in the Natural and Applied Sciences Department.

I am a licensed clinical psychologist, but have also been teaching since 1982. The first thing I want to say is that I love my job. I love the students, my colleagues, the staff, the campus and all the department chairs I have had. I have always been treated with respect and courtesy and I love coming to work each day.

I became involved in the union movement because I saw my adjunct colleagues struggling in a number of ways. Many of them were scrambling to make ends meet, often my teaching at two or sometimes even three universities to earn enough money to live on, and suffering from the lack of benefits. They were never sure until the last minute whether they would be hired again for the next semester. And sometimes, having put weeks or months into planning a course they would find it had been cancelled the week before school started, which left them uncompensated for their work and unable to find other positions at such a late date. It also doesn’t seem right that professors who have taught at Bentley for years and have demonstrated their competence, quality and commitment still have to sign contracts one semester at a time — I have signed 31 separate contracts in my time at Bentley.

All of this is contrary to Bentley’s strategic plan for 2013 to 2017, which includes the following goals: to “develop and sustain a community-oriented environment” and to “employ, develop and reward high-quality, passionate people.”

Hiring faculty one semester at a time undermines a sense of community that helps students learn best. Moreover, the lack of predictability undermines adjuncts focusing primarily on Bentley students because they constantly need to seek employment while they are at Bentley. Contingent hiring, therefore, doesn’t encourage Bentley to invest in developing and rewarding high quality, passionate and devoted professors, and since Bentley adjuncts make a serious commitment to Bentley it should be reciprocated by the university.

We would like to see changes that help us get closer to Bentley’s stated goals of developing and sustaining a community-oriented environment and employing, developing and rewarding high-quality, passionate people, and we are proposing the following:

  1. Longer appointments, with course guarantees for those who have been teaching for a certain number of years.
  2. Compensation for cancelled courses.
  3. Priority consideration for long-term adjuncts when assigning courses.
  4. Opportunities for adjuncts to teach more courses if they become available.
  5. Opportunities for adjuncts to obtain full-time jobs based on experience and performance.

Sincerely,

Barbara Nash, Adjunct Assistant Professor

Bargaining Update – July 23rd

Dear Colleague

We held our second negotiations on July 23rd with the Bentley administration’s negotiating committee. The administration responded to all of our previously submitted ‘boilerplate’ proposals. Although we didn’t reach an agreement on any of these proposals, their responses were thoughtful and offered opportunities to narrow our differences. We will offer modifications to our proposals, which will hopefully lead us closer to agreement on many of these items, at our next negotiation session on September 11th.

Next, we presented our proposals for ‘Creating One Faculty’:

  • Departmental and University Support for Our Teaching — Bentley should offer similar institutional support to both part-time and full-time faculty. This includes adequate orientation, clerical and technical support, ongoing access to library and email services during terms when we are not teaching, office space and professional development grants.
  • Faculty Inclusion — Adjunct faculty have something to offer the University in discussions regarding pedagogy, curriculum and related topics. We should continue to be represented in the Faculty Senate and Faculty Affairs Committee. We should also be allowed to participate in other committees in which our input could improve the educational experience of Bentley students. Many departments invite adjunct faculty to faculty meetings, but not all. We’d like the practice of notifying and inviting adjunct faculty to faculty meetings to be universal and occur across all departments.
  • Participation in the Academic Lives of Students — Students are not allowed to access adjunct faculty as advisors in a variety of capacities because as part-time faculty, we are not considered ‘real faculty’ by the administration. Our proposal is to end this distinction which does not benefit students or overburdened full-time faculty and will allow adjuncts to serve as formal mentors and advisors of students, as we have in the past.
  • Faculty Recognition and Professional Development — Our proposal is twofold. First, adjunct faculty should be eligible for the Adamian Award for Teaching Excellence and other similar University awards. Second, in addition to other grants, a professional development fund should be created for adjunct faculty’s scholarship, research, and artistic or professional practice. Currency in our respective fields and disciplines informs course content and enhances students’ educational experience. Tufts and Lesley already agreed to similar funds and Bentley should follow suit.

These proposals make sense for Bentley students and faculty, but clearly challenge the existing practices, which have marginalized adjunct faculty and places us in a lower caste. These current practices

evolved without challenge or interrogation. Shifting towards more inclusive treatment of adjunct faculty forces the administration to be open to change that benefits students and aligns Bentley’s practices with its stated mission of commitment to excellence in teaching and learning.

Our next negotiation session is scheduled for Friday, September 11th from 11am-5pm, and we invite all interested adjunct faculty to attend. All other negotiation sessions are tentatively scheduled for 11am-5pm as well.

Respectfully,

The Bentley Adjunct Negotiating Committee

Creating One Faculty

bentley creating one faculty logo color

Dear Colleague,

I have been teaching Expository Writing in the English and Media Studies Department at Bentley University since the fall of 2013. During my time here, I have become increasingly involved in the adjunct union because the vision of a unified faculty community has captured my imagination. Bentley University is committed to creating an inclusive and welcoming community, and I want to see that ideal realized by part-time faculty being given the opportunity to move from the margins to the center of campus life.

Bentley hires part-time faculty members because of what they can contribute to students’ education. To successfully create one faculty, the professional expertise of part-time faculty needs to be acknowledged and valued. This can be done by:

  1. Improving our working conditions.

Students expect the same excellent instruction and should have the same type of experience in a course regardless of whether a section is being taught by a full or part-time faculty member. At times, however, the working conditions of part-time faculty members stands in our way. For instance, students in a class being taught by a part-time faculty member may not be able to have one-on-one conversations with that instructor due to a lack of sufficient office space. Cramming large numbers of adjuncts into one small office makes it difficult for students to meet with their instructors privately, which is especially problematic when students want to discuss sensitive issues such as their grades.

  1. Providing us with more pedagogical opportunities.

We are qualified professionals who have a lot to offer our students, and our students recognize this. Many of the students we teach want to continue working with us as they pursue other academic endeavors, but we have to say no. When students ask us to be their advisor for a Capstone project, for example, we have to tell them that we are not allowed to do that—we are not “real” professors. Students understandably find this confusing, and part-time faculty members deserve more opportunities to contribute to student learning and to be involved in pedagogical decisions.

  1. Supporting our professional development.

Since I started working at Bentley in the fall of 2013, I have attended three academic conferences on my own dime. My participation and engagement in my professional field greatly enriches my teaching. Since students directly benefit from the subject matter expertise of part-time faculty, Bentley should encourage and financially support such professional development.

Part-time faculty are an integral part of the larger Bentley community and we deserve improved worked conditions, more pedagogical opportunities, and professional development support. We are committed to Bentley, and Bentley now needs to commit to supporting our professional development. If you are interested in talking with me more about these issues or the bargaining process in general, please feel free to contact me at ssparks@bentley.edu.

Thanks,

Summar C. Sparks

We Won!

Today we stood together at the National Labor Relations Board to watch the vote count for our union election — the result of a dialogue that began over two years ago on the Bentley campus.

We started organizing because we felt it was necessary for adjuncts to join together in order to have a collective voice and today that voice was heard — we have won our union.

This is not only a major victory for adjuncts, but for both our students and the university as a whole. We now have a real chance to not only to improve the conditions for adjuncts, but also to create an inclusive atmosphere that will enhance the university’s overall educational value.

It is important to remember that this is not the end. This is only the first milestone in our fight for better working conditions for adjunct faculty. We’ve put in a lot of hard work, but there is still much to do.

We look forward to being able negotiate as equals with our administration. Together we will negotiate an agreement that will build a better Bentley.

Sincerely,

The Bentley Adjuncts Organizing Committee

Full Time Support Letter

A Letter from Bentley University’s Tenured Faculty

– January 30, 2015 –


In 2013, some of us wrote to you about the adjunct faculty union election vote. As you most likely know, the choice to join a union lost by 2 votes. In the time since Bentley’s first vote, the Boston area has seen a big increase in adjunct faculty union activity. Adjunct faculty members at Tufts, Northeastern, and Lesley have voted to join unions. There are new adjunct faculty organizing drives underway at Boston University and Brandeis.

The Bentley Adjunct Organizing Committee has launched an organizing drive for another union vote this academic year. We thought it would be worthwhile to send our letter again, with support from more tenured faculty members. We hope to reach new adjunct faculty members and to remind all our adjunct faculty colleagues that we strongly support both your contributions to Bentley University and this effort to improve your working conditions.

Here (again) is the letter.


Dear Adjunct Faculty colleagues,

We really appreciate the very great contribution you make to teaching and learning at Bentley. We respect and admire your professionalism and talents. We know that your commitment to students and to Bentley means that you often do much more than the job requires.

We also recognize that you currently do this work for very low wages, without benefits, and without any assurance that you will have work from semester to semester. We believe that Bentley can do better than this, and that you deserve it.

As tenured faculty members who have both job security and decent working conditions, we strongly support the current adjunct faculty initiative to form a union and engage in collective bargaining. We believe that the exercise of your collective voices through an adjunct faculty union will enable you to improve your working conditions, which we very much hope will happen.

We also believe that this campaign is fully in the spirit of Bentley University’s commitments and values. Bentley has recognized the importance of collective bargaining by signing The United Nations Global Compact and agreeing to uphold “the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining.” According to the Global Compact, “Establishing genuine dialogue with freely chosen workers’ representatives enables both workers and employers to understand each other’s problems better and find ways to resolve them.”(http://www.unglobalcompact.org/AboutTheGC/TheTenPrinciples/principle3.html)

In addition, Bentley’s commitment to ethics and social responsibility continues to be both a source of pride and a goal for higher achievement. The union initiative is a great opportunity for Bentley to demonstrate our commitment to The U.N. Global Compact and to achieving “an ethical and socially engaged environment” at Bentley. (Our Vision http://www.bentley.edu/about/mission-vision-and-values)

For all these reasons, we support the formation of a union for adjunct faculty members at Bentley University. We believe that a legitimate negotiation forum for adjunct faculty members will contribute to making Bentley a better institution for all of us.

With best wishes and respect,

Bridie Andrews, Associate Professor, History

Anthony Buono, Professor, Management

Laura M. Crary, Associate Professor, Management

Samir Dayal, Associate Professor, English and Media Studies

Michael Frank, Associate Professor, English and Media Studies

Robert Frederick, Professor, Philosophy

Richard Garrett, Associate Professor, Philosophy

Ranjoo Herr, Associate Professor, Philosophy

Bruce Herzberg, Professor, English and Media Studies

W. Michael Hoffman, Executive Director, Center for Business Ethics

Angma Jhala, Associate Professor, History

Elliott Levy, Associate Professor, Accountancy

Carolyn Magid, Associate Professor, Philosophy

Clifford Putney, Associate Professor, History

Axel Seeman, Associate Professor, Philosophy

Anna Siomopoulos, Associate Professor, English and Media Studies

Kristin Sorensen, Associate Professor, Global Studies

Marcus Stewart, Associate Professor, Management

Cyrus Veeser, Professor, History

Tufts Contract Highlights

Dear Fellow Adjuncts,

As you probably know, last year adjuncts at Bentley had the opportunity to vote on whether to form a union to bargain with the administration for better pay and benefits. We lost that poll by two votes out of 198 cast.  At around the same time, adjuncts at Tufts voted overwhelmingly to unionize. You may have read in the Boston Globe that our colleagues at Tufts have now negotiated and ratified their contract. Here are some of the details of that contract:

  • By September 2016 part-time faculty will receive a minimum of $7,300 per course.
  • By September 2016 the minimum for someone with eight years service rises to $8,760 per course.
  • All adjuncts will have at least one year contracts.
  • Those with more than four years of service will be casino online eligible for 2-year appointments; those with more than eight years of service will be eligible for 3-year appointments.
  • Work done outside the classroom (mentoring, advising, etc.) will be compensated.
  • Those with a 3-year contract will receive full compensation for a cancelled course.
  • Part-time faculty will get first notice and fair consideration for full-time positions, including a guaranteed interview.  If the part-time faculty member is not offered the position, she/he can be informed of the reason in a meeting with the dean or department head.
  • The contract mandates the establishment of a professional development fund for scholarship or artistic practice that contributes to teaching excellence.

These are some of the things that adjuncts at Tufts have achieved in the year since voting to form a union.  In that year our situation at Bentley has remained static. Lesley and Northeastern have already voted to unionize and there are active campaigns underway at BU, Simmons and Brandeis.  As Tufts shows what can be gained by collective action, more and more part-timers will join the effort. We address our fellow adjuncts here at Bentley: Let’s not be left behind!

 

Let’s Build a Better Bentley Together,

Bentley Adjuncts Organizing Committee

Let's Not Be Left Behind!

Dear Adjunct Faculty Colleagues-

These are momentous times for contingent and part-time faculty here in the Boston area, and for that matter nationally. Over 2,000 adjuncts have united in SEIU in Boston in the last year, including our colleagues at Tufts, Northeastern, and Lesley. Many other area campuses are organized as well: Emerson College, Suffolk University, Berklee College, Curry College, Cambridge College, and the entire University of Massachusetts system. Campaigns are also underway at Brandeis and Boston University.

Bargaining negotiations at Tufts are expected to conclude this semester. Part-time faculty are working to address a range of key issues with their administration, including:

• Pay parity with other teaching faculty
• Regular pay increases
• Access to affordable health insurance
• Longer-term contracts
• Recourse/rights over issues related to reappointment
• Professional development funds

Such objectives speak not only to the welfare of adjunct faculty members, but also to the overall effectiveness of teaching on campus.

So far, Bentley administrators have rejected any serious discussion about changes. But we now have it within our power to bring about improvements. To miss this opportunity will be to the detriment of Bentley adjuncts. As casino online the movement to raise standards for part-time faculty grows, it’s important that Bentley continues to be a leader in higher education, and a desirable place to work.

Now is the time to make sure that Bentley adjuncts – and Bentley University – are not left behind.

We hope you will join us and sign a union authorization card.

Lord Andzie-Quinaoo, Economics
Joan Atlas, English & Media Studies
Lilian Bobea, Sociology
Roger Danichise, Natural & Applied Sciences
Jack Dempsey, English & Media Studies
Virginia Egan, Natural & Applied Sciences
Thomas Finn, English & Media Studies
Bob Hannigan, History
Mary Hartman, Finance
Curtis Holland, Sociology
Tom Johnson, History
Doug Kierdorf, History
Barbara Nash, Natural & Applied Sciences
Gabe Repassy, Natural & Applied Sciences
Elaine Saunders, Mathematical Sciences
Clarissa Sawyer, Natural & Applied Sciences
Summar Sparks, English & Media Studies
Jonathan Speros, Accountancy

Bentley Adjuncts are Organizing!

Dear Bentley Adjunct Faculty Colleagues:

As you are probably aware, we lost last fall’s union election by only two votes. Since then the situation of adjuncts at Bentley has remained unchanged, and in fact, while all staff and all other faculty received a raise this spring, adjuncts did not. We are beginning a campaign to schedule another election for early 2015, and we hope that you will join with us.

Bentley, along with most other universities, has adopted a model that consigns a significant amount of teaching to contingent and part-time faculty. This model evolved over the last thirty years without meaningful input from faculty or any involvement from adjunct faculty themselves, but it has redefined teaching and the role of faculty in the academy. Gone are stable teaching positions with benefits and opportunities for professional development, replaced instead with a contingent workforce and a university with little investment in what should be the core focus of any institution of higher education: learning.

We believe it’s time to work towards restructuring this model of higher education.
Professors and adjuncts are turning to collective bargaining to challenge the model and change it so that it values teaching and does not marginalize contingent and part-time faculty. College faculty unions aren’t new, but they are growing to meet a crisis in higher education.

The problems in higher education have become so acutely visible that more and more adjuncts are turning to their colleagues and saying that we can’t simply hope for change, we have to create it. And there are thousands of highly educated people just like you who have decided to form a union.

All instructors — including full-time and tenured faculty — at the University of Massachusetts have a union and have made significant strides at the bargaining table over the years. They are no less professional or committed to quality teaching, scholarship and professional practice because they engage in collective bargaining. In fact, they are using collective bargaining to help define their role in the academy and redefine their relationship to both their universities and professional fields.

Furthermore, over 2,000 part-time and contingent faculty at Tufts, Lesley and Northeastern have united in SEIU/Adjunct Action in the past year. Tufts part-time faculty are finding that collective bargaining is creating a space for positive conversations with administrators, and we believe it’s time for Bentley to become part of the forward-looking trend in higher education.

A union is a way for us to strengthen Bentley and make it a better place for all of us, and we believe it is the only way we will make any headway to improve the working conditions of adjuncts. We ask you to think seriously about supporting a union at Bentley. Our effort to collectively bargain for better wages, job security and improvements that affect instruction is gaining more traction every day as we plan for a new vote early in the spring semester, and we encourage fellow adjuncts to join this effort.

All professors teaching at Bentley bring high-level training and real-world experience to their classrooms. Adjunct professors are no different, and that is why we deserve the fair pay, benefits and working conditions that truly recognize the education, skill, experience and value we bring to this university. If you believe it’s time to put Bentley among schools at the leading edge of this national movement for beneficial change, we urge you to support the upcoming vote through which we can form a union. Please keep in mind that we are all in this together.

As you consider the issues, we hope you will contact us. We want to hear your concerns and questions as we move into the fall semester.

Sincerely,

Joan Atlas, English and Media Studies
Jack Dempsey, English and Media Studies
Thomas Finn, English and Media Studies
Robert Hannigan, History
Mary Hartman, Finance
Curtis Holland, Sociology
Tom Johnson, History
Barbara Nash, Natural and Applied Sciences
Clarissa Sawyer, Natural and Applied Sciences
Jonathan Todd, Mathematical Sciences

Launching a New Campaign

Bentley adjunct Feb 2014 Vanguard adDear Bentley Adjuncts:

Last fall, the effort to establish a Bentley Adjunct Faculty Union to improve our pay, benefits, and job security fell short by only two votes. We’d like you to know that the still-growing movement of our fellow adjuncts is launching a new campaign in 2014. The cornerstone of our position is the fair and ethical treatment of Bentley’s adjuncts, who comprise about 40% of this university’s faculty. On that basis, we ask you to consider the facts afresh, to talk with us this semester and to play some active part. We will be working to correct misinformation and connect with even more adjuncts, including those who did not vote at all and those who voted No.

We intend over the coming weeks to lay out clearly why this effort is not only in the interest of all Bentley adjuncts, but of all Bentley faculty, as well as the students we teach and the university itself. We welcome the support and active assistance of all educators on the Bentley campus who agree that all of the highly qualified and educated instructors who teach Bentley’s students should be paid as the professionals that they are, and should receive employment benefits.

Bentley, like many institutions of higher education, has been increasing its use of “contract adjuncts” as de facto employees
for many profitable years, paying low salaries with no benefits or job security, while knowing full well that the need for adjuncts is regular, year-round and ongoing. The ethical imperative is fair treatment for all. This past year, faced with the union-organizing activity, Bentley gave adjuncts an overdue raise that merely brought them closer to where the earlier trend of raises indicated they should be. More importantly, there was no move toward a new policy that would truly improve adjunct conditions.

The impact of inequitable treatment of adjunct faculty has been detailed with growing frequency in many higher education journals and in mainstream news. In fact, a January 2014 report from the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce presents what it calls “an alarming snapshot of life for contingent faculty,” finding as well  “a shortchanging of students who pay ever-increasing tuition.” It shows that we are the highest-educated workers in the realm of minimum wage labor. The report also finds no reason why adjuncts are grossly underpaid for the level of skills and experience required to teach at the college level.

It is apparent that there is a major problem throughout the country, the region, and at Bentley with respect to adjunct employment. It is equally apparent that without the shared strength of a union and collective bargaining, there will be no significant changes. This is particularly unfortunate at Bentley, given the university’s stated mission of inculcating business ethics and social responsibility in everything it stands for. Moreover, we believe that a school with a $201 million endowment and over $200 million in annual tuition can afford fair treatment of all of its employees, without passing the costs on to students and their families.

This campaign will show why Bentley must move past the contradiction between its treatment of adjuncts and what it preaches about ethics across its curriculum. If teaching is not the main source of your livelihood, please consider the effect of inadequate compensation and lack of benefits on those adjuncts who dedicate themselves to teaching as a career. In fact, we believe this is a major opportunity for Bentley to take national leadership in applying its own business ideals relative to ethics and social responsibility. And so, we hope that last year’s near success will inspire you to join in standing up for our valuable labor and the integrity of our profession.


Your friends and colleagues,
Concerned Bentley Adjunct Faculty

Lord Andzie-Quainoo (Economics)
Joan Atlas (English and Media Studies)
Lilian Bobea (Sociology)
Roger Danchise (Natural and Applied Sciences)
Jack Dempsey (English and Media Studies)
Thomas Finn (English and Media Studies)
Patricia Glynn (English and Media Studies)
Robert Hannigan (History)
Mary Hartman (Finance)
Curtis Holland (Sociology)
Tom Johnson (History)
Ted Kaplan (Mathematical Sciences)
Robert Keefe (English and Media Studies)
Doug Kierdorf (History)
Barbara Nash (Natural and Applied Sciences)
Alicia Nitecki (English and Media Studies)
Elaine Saunders (Mathematical Sciences)
Clarissa Sawyer (Natural and Applied Sciences)
George Seeley (Global Studies)
Jonathan Speros (Accountancy)
Rebecca Thorndike-Breeze (English and Media Studies)
Kim Vaeth (English and Media Studies)
Fred Wesemann (English and Media Studies)