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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. 

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.

When Adjuncts Go Union

american prospect logoWhen Adjuncts Go Union

By Justin Miller

By now, Tiffany Kraft imagined she would be fully immersed in academia, putting her Ph.D. and passion for British literature to use on an annotated version of Irish novelist George Moore’s Mike Fletcher.

But her path to academia has not been as straightforward as she had hoped. She got her master’s when President George W. Bush was finishing his first term; her doctorate during Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign. Yet still, she finds herself in the purgatory of academia in which she’s been stuck since 2004: adjunct instruction.

“Adjuncting wasn’t great but there were no tenure-track jobs available,” Kraft says. “So I just thought I’d ride it out till the kids got through high school and I could move. Then after a period of time you’re sort of branded an adjunct if you don’t matriculate immediately—people wonder what’s wrong with you.” As an instructor of English and writing composition in Portland, Oregon, she’s cobbled together employment at four different higher education institutions in the metro area.

In a typical fall term, Kraft can secure up to six five-credit courses between three different campuses, ranging anywhere from $2,700 to $3,500 per course. In winter and spring terms, she usually can pull in three courses. For a single mother of two, these are not ideal circumstances. “I’m on fumes this term; it’s tight,” she said during the winter term.

She used to be able to find courses to teach in the summer as well. But now she says she’s seeing fewer summer opportunities at the colleges she works for, especially since many full-time faculty—who get hiring preference—are picking up extra courses.

“I just got a letter from my director and she said there is no summer employment for adjuncts. There were four slots, and they got filled,” she says.

Summer now holds a special anxiety for Kraft. She’s been forced to file for unemployment through the summer months. “Last summer was the first time I had to do that, and it scared me to death. I managed to get by but it wasn’t easy.”

The Affordable Care Act hasn’t made things any easier for her. University human resources departments are now hypersensitive to making sure that part-time instructors don’t work enough hours to require the universities to provide them with health insurance. Kraft’s previously stable course load at Portland State University was cut because of that. “HR red-flagged everyone that was above hours,” she explains. “That was a huge slam.”

Kraft’s tenuous situation is far from unique; in fact, it’s pretty much par for course.

Contingent faculty has become a subset of the new working poor—the subset with Ph.D.s.

Part-time. Contingent. Non–tenure track. Casual. Adjunct. Non-standard. Peripheral. External. Ad hoc. Limited contract. New model. Occasional. Sessional. Call them what you will, but these professors have now become the majority of college and university faculty. Their jobs are defined by low pay, limited instructional resources, tenuous employment security, and a complete lack of institutional support for their own research and writing. Contingent faculty has become a subset of the new working poor—the subset with Ph.D.s.

Kraft is just one of more than one million contingent instructors in the United States. Today, part-time and adjunct instructors comprise more than half of all faculty (not including those at for-profit institutions); another 20 percent are full-time without tenure. Just 30 percent are traditional tenured or tenure-track appointments. And the future is not looking better as tenure-track hiring continues to plummet, currently around one in four.

Since she began teaching in 2002, Kraft has been trying to better the lot of contingent faculty, reaching out to fellow adjuncts and her department chairs. Her efforts, however, amounted to just “banging my head against the wall,” she says. Her colleagues and bosses weren’t ready to have a conversation in which the problems of adjuncts, and solutions for those problems, were seen as collective. In 2012, she wrote an article airing her grievances, and in 2014, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) invited her to speak at a town hall event at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

She was joined by now-retired California Representative George Miller, then the ranking Democrat on the House Education Committee, whose staff had recently released a report on the “just-in-time” nature of higher education faculty. The town hall was a platform for the SEIU to announce a highly ambitious long-term plan to organize one million adjunct faculty members nationwide. Adjunct Action Network, as it was dubbed, was launched in direct response to an increasingly vibrant grassroots movement of precarious faculty demanding change.

These organizing efforts, of which SEIU’s is just one, are a response to the collective failure of administrations—from community colleges all the way to the Ivy League—to fully integrate their main source of instructional labor into their full-time, permanent faculty system. As tuition continues to rise, the budgetary share that goes to instructional costs, including faculty salaries, has either flat-lined or decreased. The starkest shift has come at community colleges, where the instructional budget share fell by 3 percentage points between 1987 and 2009, according to the Delta Cost Project. Administrations have effectively entrenched a two-tiered system of faculty in higher education—one that has the support and security of the academy, and one that is utterly detached and disenfranchised.

“The evil genius of the multitier system was that it enticed the tenured faculty with short-term benefits and lured contingent faculty with what seemed a reasonable expectation—that they would gain valuable experience in a highly competitive job market,” writes Richard Moser in Equality for Contingent Faculty: Overcoming the Two-Tier System. Contingents are realizing this is a false hope, and the movement is finally finding a voice through both grassroots and netroots organizing. If they get their way, higher education will change for the better.

With the mobilization of a grassroots movement of adjuncts has come a windfall of resources from national labor unions—both those that have traditionally focused on higher education faculty, such as the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), and those that are new to the sector, such as SEIU. In a labor market where union organizing in most sectors has been rendered all but impossible, these unions have found a new front full of long-exploited faculty members who are eager to band together.

 

HIGHER EDUCATION FACULTY in the years after World War II was still largely made up of upper-middle-class white men. Tenure was the expectation, and most got it—in 1969, only about 3.3 percent of faculty appointments were off the tenure track. Back then, part-time adjunct faculty were mostly a novelty, with outside professionals teaching a course or two each year.

Throughout the 1970s, a number of factors contributed to a massive shift in the academic workforce. As the economy sank into a stagflation crisis, states started cutting funding to higher education. Endowments tanked. These economic reverses coincided with a rapidly changing higher education landscape—increasing demand for college education was coming from a more diverse cohort than before. “It was no longer just the majority of 18-year-olds straight out of high school going full-time,” says Joe Berry, a contingent faculty member, activist, and labor historian by trade. Older women and men coming back into the workforce, veterans, and immigrants were making up a larger portion of the student body. These people had busy lives and wanted to attend part-time. The number of students “became much harder to predict,” Berry says. “You couldn’t just look at your area high schools and predict how many 18-year-olds were coming out” and count on those numbers to determine how many course sections would be needed.

Administrations turned to the more flexible—and cheaper—labor of contingent faculty, even as the era’s protests for racial and gender equality helped create a more diverse pool of faculty candidates. “Politically, it was much easier to casualize and degrade the job of college teaching now that it wasn’t just a white man’s job,” Berry says. At the time, however, “nobody among us realized the depth of that strategic change that was taking place. Initially, the administrations weren’t consciously setting out to change the faculty makeup. They got addicted to the cheap, flexible labor to solve all their problems.” But in time, he continues, “it came to be strategic, not tactical answers to their problem.”

In a sense, the traditional tenured-faculty bubble was bursting. Requirements for tenure were heightened at the same time that tenure-track hiring screeched to a halt. What was previously the next career step was now an inaccessible dream to many pursuing a career in academia.

Higher education scholar Gary Rhoades says these trends point toward what he calls “academic capitalism”: increased managerial control of the work and the employees. “It’s easier to control employees who have less job security and whose working conditions are such that you can easily non-renew them,” Rhoades says. “You don’t have to worry about layoffs when you have large numbers of contingent faculty.”

This “casualization” of faculty first began emerging in community colleges and state universities—the non-elite institutions. It was there that contingent faculty unionization campaigns began. The California Part-Time Faculty Association was likely the first explicitly contingent faculty association in the United States. By the mid-1970s, contingents in the California State University (CSU) system had formed lecturers’ committees in the statewide unions of both the United Professors of California—an American Federation of Teachers local affiliate—and the California Teachers Association.

SEIU

Adjunct instructor Tiffany Kraft speaks in New York City on the national Fight for 15 Day of Action, April 15, 2015.

The 1970s were a time of disconnected and decentralized efforts to unionize. Coming out of the ferment of the 1960s, the new academics were disproportionately left-leaning, and a surge in faculty unionization soon followed. In 1967 and 1968, state labor boards started granting collective bargaining rights to faculty at public universities and colleges. The State University of New York and City University of New York systems were among the first public faculty groups to gain certified union representation.

The National Labor Relations Board had no jurisdiction over private institutions until 1970. Prior to that, private-school faculty’s only hope to unionize was through an administration’s voluntary recognition. By 1976, there were 38 private colleges and 180 public colleges under union contracts in 29 states, the District of Columbia, and Guam. Berry argues that the administrations’ creation of a two-tiered structure—tenure-track and the rest—soon became an effort to frustrate the burgeoning unionization movements on many campuses.

Then a Supreme Court decision curtailed the scope of faculty organizing.

IN 1980, THE SUPREME COURT ruled in NLRB v. Yeshiva University that full-time, tenure-track faculty in private colleges and universities were “managerial,” and thus ineligible to organize under the National Labor Relations Act. The decision had no impact on contingents’ ability to organize, and it didn’t pertain to faculty at public colleges and universities, who, like all public employees, aren’t covered by the National Labor Relations Act, and whose right to bargain collectively is left to the discretion of the states.

Traditional higher education unions like the AFT, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), and the National Education Association had been organizing contingent faculty for decades—mostly, however, through comprehensive faculty unionization efforts, not by specifically targeting contingents. AFT’s higher education strategy had mainly consisted of building joint “wall-to-wall” bargaining units in which all faculty—from tenured professors to adjunct instructors—are represented.

Yeshiva scrambled those unions’ strategies. The AFT continued to focus on organizing broad units that included both tenure-track and non–tenure track faculty, but at public colleges and universities only. By contrast, nontraditional education unions like SEIU, which have come onto the scene in recent years, have largely organized contingent-only units at private schools where wall-to-wall units are forbidden.

“Some of the best contracts in terms of working conditions for adjunct faculty are in those joint units; some of the worst contracts are as well,” says Rhoades, who was formerly the general secretary of AAUP. If there’s a strong sense of solidarity between the two tiers, the ability of joint units to win strong contracts could mean big gains for contingent working conditions. However, joint units could just as easily mean captivity for contingents if their concerns fail to register in contract negotiations.

Some see this insistence on maintaining a wall-to-wall strategy as a failure to adapt organizing strategies to the rapidly expanding legions of contingent faculty who are struggling to improve their working conditions. AFT President Randi Weingarten contends, however, that her union’s wall-to-wall strategy was the best response to the Yeshiva decision. “The Supreme Court basically pulled the rug out from university organizing,” says Weingarten. “The organizing strategy we deployed was one that tried to lift all boats, and not let the boss of a university pit tenured faculty against non-tenure faculty or adjuncts.” In the post-Yeshiva world, she says, that strategy “has made us the largest higher education union in the country.”

With many university administrations openly antagonistic to organizing efforts among contingents, the AFT’s wall-to-wall approach has served to enlist a powerful group—tenured faculty—in the contingents’ cause. But contingents are an uncommonly unionizable workforce even without tenured allies, which is a lure for unions with a range of organizing strategies. “There are [unions] who even though they are not in the education space see contingent workers—exploited workers—and want to get into that space,” Weingarten says. “Frankly, there’s enough work for everyone in this space because there’s lots of exploited adjuncts.”

SEIU President Mary Kay Henry agrees. “It’s incumbent upon all of us to do whatever it takes to make sure that working people have a chance to come together and bargain,” Henry says. As the most prominent face in the crowd of nontraditional higher education unions, SEIU has employed a distinctly different strategy than AFT’s. It’s a highly publicized and aggressive campaign with aspirational goals of organizing one million adjuncts and establishing a base pay of $15,000 per course. While the union’s national campaign is in its infancy, it has roots in Washington, D.C., that go back nearly a decade.

KIP LORNELL HAS BEEN teaching since the early 1990s, mostly at George Washington University in D.C. His field is American music and ethnomusicology, on which he’s published 14 books, and he even won a Grammy in 1997 for his work on a folk music anthology project. As a music academic, he’s about as experienced as they come. But to the GW administration, he’s merely an Adjunct Professor of Music. Given his expertise, GW offered him a regular part-time position in 1999, which offers slightly more job security, benefits, and a higher salary. Lornell inquired what higher salary GW had in mind and was told $15,000 a year. “They said, ‘We pay all regular part-timers [in the college of arts and sciences] that,’” he recalls. “I didn’t believe that for a second.”

He asked around among other part-time faculty in the college, and as it turned out, he was right. “There were people getting paid two and a half times more than that. The folks who were offering me [the position] were either badly misinformed or absolutely lying.”

Faculty Forward Chicago

Faculty Forward Chicago march in downtown Chicago on Fight for 15’s National Day of Action, April 15, 2015.

The experience radicalized Lornell. After he got in contact with other part-timers, they started having regular meetings and eventually decided that they wanted to form a union. They had heard about the work the United Auto Workers (UAW) was doing at New York University and the New School, and by 2001 the group had grown enough to reach out to the union and make a pitch. The UAW sent down some organizers, but after more than a year with little results to show for their efforts, it became clear that the partnership wasn’t working. “They were stretched too thin,” Lornell says. They mutually decided to part ways and find a local union. Lornell then reached out to AFT, but GW is a private university and didn’t seem to mesh well with the union’s organizing strategy.

Finally, the GW part-timers met with SEIU Local 500, which covers the D.C. and Maryland area. The local took up the cause. Within six months, the group completed a card drive and presented it to the NLRB. “That’s when the fun began,” Lornell says. “The university was not very happy, and they became even less happy when we won a very closely contested election.”

For the next year and a half, GW tried to contest the election results at various levels of the NLRB. Eventually the school brought their case to the district appeals court, which very quickly issued a clear message to GW: You’ve lost this, now sit down and bargain. It took a year to negotiate the first contract, but when it was done, the faculty had made real strides. Minimum compensation for a course went up from $2,700 to around $3,400. The contract also restricted the university’s ability to deny reappointment, a boon for job security. Ultimately, the first GW contract became a beacon of encouragement for part-timers at other campuses and a template for their efforts. (The GW administration confined its comments on this history to noting that it “was the first university in the District of Columbia to agree to terms with a union to represent part-time faculty” and that it has since “maintained good relations” with the union.)

“GW unquestionably paved the way for adjunct organizing in D.C.,” Lornell says. One by one, faculty at other campuses in the Washington area, both public and private, joined Local 500. First came Montgomery College in Maryland. Then American University. Then Georgetown. Then Howard University. Then the University of D.C.  Then Trinity Washington University.

“The secret to making this work is to understand that the movement is bigger than any one individual school. No one school is broken; the system as a whole is broken.”

SEIU Local 500 Executive Director David Rodich explains the thinking behind the local’s organizing strategy: “The secret to making this work is to understand that the movement is bigger than any one individual school. No one school is broken; the system as a whole is broken.”

Rodich estimates that the union has organized 3,000 faculty members—about 80 percent union density in the metropolitan D.C. adjunct market. Local 500 hopes its adjuncts will be able to achieve such high membership that they could transcend campus-level contracts and collectively bargain at a metro-area level. This “metro organizing strategy,” as the union terms it, would give contingent faculty unprecedented leverage. The union could centralize retirement plans and create an adjunct job bank reminiscent of the old union hiring halls.

“That’s the way building trades organized 130 years ago—not by individual employer, but by those practicing the craft in that immediate area and then they made all employers have the same standards,” says Joe Berry, whom many credit with crafting this strategy for contingent faculty. “Entertainers—the musicians, the actors—organized on that basis. There’s a lot of precedent. … It’s the workplace-appropriate strategy for organizing this sector.”

Perhaps recognizing the need to make its contingent organizing more nimble and adaptable, AFT has even integrated the metro organizing strategy into one half of a two-pronged approach. In Philadelphia higher education, the union is attempting to organize a high density of contingents. It still remains invested in the power of the wall-to-wall unit, but in metro areas with a number of higher education institutions, where contingents often work at multiple schools, the metro organizing strategy just makes more sense. It’s a matter of pinpointing which strategy fits. “The real issue becomes, what creates a power for workers to have a voice and a decent shot at earning a living wage and the professional conditions they need?” says Weingarten. “So you try both.”

Indeed, where wall-to-wall organizing isn’t feasible, AFT seems now to have fully embraced the contingent reality. The union’s higher education director, Alyssa Picard, comes out of the contingent faculty and grad student movements. This change in strategy, argues Berry, is the result of the growing tumult and militancy of contingent faculty. “It’s pressure from below,” he says. “The national unions had to get on board because the train was on the tracks.”

About 8,000 adjuncts have been brought under the Faculty Forward banner so far, and the union says thousands more are in the organizing pipeline.

The SEIU announcement of its Adjunct Action Network campaign in 2014 was a calculated attempt to build on the early successes that its locals in D.C. and Boston had with adjunct organizing in urban areas. The union had been monitoring the organizing in D.C. and announced the campaign less than a year after Georgetown adjuncts had voted to unionize. The Adjunct Action initiative, later renamed Faculty Forward, has rapidly scaled up efforts in 18 states or metropolitan areas, from Los Angeles and San Francisco to St. Louis and the Twin Cities. About 8,000 adjuncts have been brought under the Faculty Forward banner so far, and the union says thousands more are in the organizing pipeline.

While many in the adjunct movement community commend SEIU for expanding aggressively, some are skeptical of the long-term efficacy of a campaign that seeks to model a national effort on two locals’ successes, and that perhaps puts a premium on the speed, rather than the depth, of organizing. Others wonder whether SEIU, which has taken a financial hit from a Supreme Court decision undermining its home-care locals and is devoting major resources to its Fight for 15 campaign, can deliver resources adequate to its ambitions for organizing contingents. On the surface, though, SEIU appears to be steaming ahead, not pulling back. It recently announced its Faculty Forward initiative that calls for a minimum of $15,000 per course, benefits included. It’s a bold, flashy move and one that is admittedly aspirational. However, the move has been widely applauded for bringing greater visibility to the adjunct movement, largely by tapping into both the rhetoric and the action of the Fight for 15 movement among low-wage workers.

DESPITE THE GROWING prevalence of contingent faculty, it took a long time for a national contingent organizing strategy to emerge. Until the turn of the century, most efforts were isolated into campus, city, or state silos. It wasn’t until the late 1990s, with the advent of the Coalition of Contingent Academic Labor (COCAL)—independent but supportive of particular union efforts—that the movement began to develop a national strategy and vision, particularly through its advocacy events like Campus Equity Week. In 2009, aided by the rise of social media, the New Faculty Majority (NFM) formed as an organization intent on connecting the various moving parts necessary to stem the tide of increasing adjunctification—unions, nonprofits, activists, legislators, students. “We see ourselves very much as a page in the evolution of the movement,” says NFM President Maria Maisto. “We try to be both a hub that connects the various spokes of the wheel and also to identify the issues that need to be addressed.”

The group has worked with unions and the Department of Labor to try to fix unemployment denials for adjuncts over the summer as well as addressing wage and hour violations that have occurred because of the Affordable Care Act. Maisto believes that legislative reform would be one of the most effective ways to advance contingents’ interests. With the Republicans’ control of Congress likely blocking any pro-labor legislation, Democrats have begun to use their power to outline the problems and propose solutions that future Congresses might enact.

Following up on the House Democrats’ 2014 investigation into working conditions, Virginia Congressman Robert Scott, who succeeded Miller as the senior Democrat on the House Education Committee, has expressed interest in continuing the committee’s work in support of adjuncts. In the Senate, Richard Durbin of Illinois and Al Franken of Minnesota have sponsored a bill that would extend loan forgiveness to adjuncts.

The Internet has broken down the silos of geography and discipline that historically divided contingent faculty. Facebook and Twitter especially have catalyzed the conversation surrounding contingent working conditions, seen most recently through the promotion of National Adjunct Walkout Day in late February.

As the adjunct movement gains traction, one big obstacle remains lack of student awareness of who is even providing them with their education. “Most students, when they hear [who is teaching them], are shocked,” says Troy Neves, a third-year student at Northeastern University in Boston. “A lot of people don’t even know what an adjunct professor is.” Neves is a regional organizer with United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS), a social justice advocacy group. As part of its Campus Worker Justice Campaign, the organization has made adjunct equality a major focus.

Northeastern University contingents successfully unionized with SEIU and are currently in contract negotiations. The USAS chapter was a vocal supporter of their efforts. “One of the main ways we support our adjuncts is by making sure that while in the bargaining room, our university knows that students are watching [and] are going to hold them accountable for treating their workers fairly,” Neves says.

Higher education administrations have varied greatly in their responses to adjunct organizing efforts. Some have declared themselves neutral. Some have waged blatantly anti-union campaigns. Most land somewhere in the middle. “Our official position was that it was within their rights to decide for themselves,” says Jim Glaser, the dean of Tufts University School of Arts and Sciences. “But our perspective was that there would be real costs, both in dollars and bureaucratically, to unionization.”

In Tufts’s School of Arts and Sciences, more than half of the instructors are not in the tenure stream. In September 2013, part-time lecturers voted to form a union. The administration prepared for contract negotiations with a clear sense of what their bottom line would be, with a vision of what they hoped to come out of it. “Tufts, like many other [universities], has resources. But they are constrained—we live within a tight budget,” Glaser says. Its main goals were to stay within that budget while developing a “simple structure that was easy to follow and administer.”

About a year after the unionization vote, the administration and the union settled on a contract that’s since become a model for SEIU’s Faculty Forward campaign. It offers, at a minimum, year-long contracts for all adjuncts and up to three-year contracts for those with more experience. The part-time lecturers also get first notice and a guaranteed interview for full-time openings. Increased compensation was, of course, a key part of the contract, with as much as a 40 percent pay bump for those teaching Romance languages. By 2016, all part-timers will make at least $7,300 per course; those with eight years of service will earn a minimum of $8,760. And work done outside the classroom will be compensated.

A common point of agreement between the union and the administration was the need for a better evaluation system for part-time faculty. Adjuncts wanted feedback on their performance, says Glaser; the school wanted more accountability. “I think [the evaluations] were one of the good byproducts of unionization,” Glaser says. “We are going to have better accountability and better communication and recognition of high-quality work.” Adhering to the new contract, he acknowledges, will require a big adjustment on behalf of the administration. “The university is taking on more costs and we have less flexibility as a result. But we also feel the outcome is contributing to more fairness and to, we hope, better pedagogy and to more satisfied faculty.”

Tufts provides a case study in what a successful negotiation between union and administration can look like. However, as Glaser notes, Tufts is a wealthy university with a lot of resources. As are Boston University, Northeastern University, and Washington University in St. Louis—all schools with adjuncts who have voted to unionize with SEIU. A key question for SEIU’s campaign is what kind of concessions unions can get outside the bubble of elite universities that educate a small slice of U.S. college students. To date, although SEIU has organized some community colleges, its campaign is almost exclusively focused on private universities—mostly because of Yeshiva, it’s easier to organize adjunct-only units at private colleges.

SEIU can’t come anywhere close to unionizing even a fraction of those one million adjuncts without figuring out how to organize in the public universities and community colleges where the vast majority of contingents are employed.

But SEIU can’t come anywhere close to unionizing even a fraction of those one million adjuncts without figuring out how to organize in the public universities and community colleges where the vast majority of contingents are employed. These are the institutions that have seen their state funding gutted over the years and have responded by embedding just-in-time instructional labor into their operational models. Can such colleges afford what the adjunct movement is calling for?

John Barnshaw, the senior higher education researcher for the American Association of University Professors, took an informal stab at answering that question. Using Ohio State University and its nearly 60,000 students as an example, he tried to come up with a rough figure of just how much it would cost to put its entire part-time faculty onto the tenure track. The university is actually less dependent on contingent faculty than the average institution. Of its 5,000-person instructional staff, less than a quarter are part-time.

The lowest-paid tenure position at OSU for the 2014–2015 academic year was assistant professor at $85,200, with an average benefits package bumping up total compensation to more than $100,000. To promote just half the part-timers to tenured positions would cost roughly $67 million in salaries and benefits. That’s not an insignificant number, especially at a public school heavily reliant on public funding. “It’s not without its costs,” Barnshaw says, but to put that in perspective, OSU spends a total of $1.8 billion in salaries and benefits.

Paving the way for a new reality in academia will likely require a multi-pronged approach—through unionizing drives, coalition-building, legislation, and ultimately innovative new employment models that don’t demoralize faculty.

“I don’t think people understand how oppressive it is to work without job security, to work on a terminal, sometimes ten-week basis, without knowing you’ll be employed,” Tiffany Kraft says. “It wears on you psychologically, physically. … Not only are you underpaid, there’s absolutely no respect. Over time, that hurts. It just hurts.”

What this adjunct movement could mean for Kraft, and legions of other disenfranchised faculty members, is simple: not just fair pay and stability, but a chance to engage in academia. “I would have a lot less stress in my life,” Kraft says. “I wouldn’t constantly be panicking and looking for jobs on Craigslist. I’d have time to publish and research more. I’d have time to just be academic, really.”

To see the full American Prospect article Click Here. 

Bentley Adjunct Faculty WIN Their Union!

Join nearly 3,000 Boston-area educators now united through FacultyForward/SEIU

BOSTON – Adjunct faculty at Bentley University overwhelmingly voted “Union Yes” today, casting their ballots to join Faculty Forward – a project of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 509. The vote marks the third faculty union victory in as many weeks, with nearly 3,000 Boston-area educators now joined in a shared effort to improve their profession and the overall quality of higher education through unionization

“This is a major victory, not only for Bentley adjuncts, but for the university and its students,” said Robert Hannigan, who has taught history at Bentley University for more than 30 years. “We now have a real chance not only to improve working conditions for adjuncts, but – in the process – to create an inclusive atmosphere that will enhance the university’s overall educational value.”

With today’s two-to-one vote, more than 220 adjunct professors at Bentley join adjunct colleagues at Boston University, Northeastern and Lesley in forming unions through SEIU Local 509. In October, part-time lecturers at Tufts signed their first union contract – making significant gains around compensation, working conditions and educators’ role in decision-making. Contingent faculty on the Lesley and Northeastern campuses also began contract negotiations in recent months.

“When we began our union effort in the spring of 2013, we felt it was important for adjuncts at Bentley to join together in order to have a collective voice,” said Joan Atlas, an adjunct lecturer in English and Media Studies who represents adjuncts in the Bentley Faculty Senate.  “Through our union, we’ve gained the ability to make real headway in improving adjuncts’ working conditions – and our students’ learning conditions – on campus.”

Greater Boston’s contingent faculty form the core of a robust, nationwide movement to address the crisis in higher education – where the role of educators is increasingly low-wage and marginalized, despite tuition increases and growing endowments. The groundbreaking effort seeks to reinvest in the classroom, raise standards and improve stability through the Faculty Forward and Adjunct Action initiatives.

The Bentley adjunct faculty vote was conducted by mail, with ballots tabulated at the National Labor Relations Board office in Boston. Three-quarters of eligible faculty members participated in the election.

 

SEIU Local 509 represents more than 18,000 human service workers and educators throughout the commonwealth, including 3,000 part- and full-time faculty in the Greater Boston area. SEIU 509 members provide a variety of social services to elders, at-risk children and people with mental illnesses or developmental disabilities — as well as educational opportunities from early learning to higher education. Local 509 is part of the Service Employees International Union, the fastest-growing labor union in the United States. For more information, visit http://seiu509.org.

Bentley University’s part-time faculty votes to form union

boston globe

 

Bentley University’s part-time faculty votes to form union

Wide effort cites low pay, benefits

By Matt Rocheleau

Part-time professors at Bentley University have voted to unionize, officials announced Thursday, making them the fifth group of adjunct faculty from area colleges to organize in the last year and a half.

A previous unionization effort by adjuncts at the Waltham school, in the fall of 2013, fell two votes short of passing.

The latest vote, organized by a group of the part-time instructors, was conducted over the past two weeks by mail-in ballot. This time, 108 Bentley adjuncts voted in favor of unionizing and 42 voted against, out of about 220 who were eligible to vote, according to the Service Employees International Union, which over the past two years has run a national campaign to unionize faculty.

“The unionization effort was really about giving us a voice and improving our working conditions,” said Joan Atlas, who has taught writing and public speaking part time at Bentley for 13 years. “We have people who have worked here for many years, but don’t have benefits and are paid very little.”

Atlas said that it was difficult to persuade some part-time faculty “because Bentley is a business school and there are a lot of conservative people here.”

But after watching adjuncts successfully unionize at other Boston area schools, many Bentley professors “started seeing things differently,” she said.

“It was a hard fight to get to this point. But it’s a relief that we did finally succeed and with such a wonderful result: a more than 2-to-1” ratio.

Bentley spokeswoman Helen Henrichs said in a statement that “while Bentley has consistently stated its belief that having a union is not in the best interest of the faculty or the university, the university will, of course, bargain in good faith over the terms and conditions of employment for unit members.”

In the fall of 2013, adjunct professors at Tufts University became the first local group to organize after the SEIU launched its faculty unionization campaign. About 200 part-time faculty at Tufts reached a contract agreement in October that will give most a 22 percent pay raise over the next three years and better job security.

Earlier this month, more than 750 part-time professors at Boston University voted to unionize, and will soon enter contract negotiations.

About 960 adjuncts at Northeastern University voted to unionize in May, and about 700 part-time faculty at Lesley University unionized last February. Both of those faculty groups are in the midst of contract negotiations with their respective institutions.

Full-time, non tenure-track faculty at Tufts voted to unionize this month, and similar campaigns are underway at other area schools, including Brandeis and Lesley universities, officials said.

The newly unionized professors from Boston area schools have joined Faculty Forward, which is a part of SEIU Local 509 and now has nearly 3,000 members, officials said.

Nationally, the number of tenure-track positions has dropped as colleges have become increasingly dependent on the low cost and flexibility of contingent faculty.

Today, about 76 percent of higher education instructors hold non tenure-track positions.

Adjunct faculty are paid on average about $3,000 per three-credit course, the SEIU said. About 80 percent of them do not receive health insurance from their colleges, and about 86 percent do not receive retirement benefits.

Full-time, non tenure-track faculty are typically eligible for benefits, including health and retirement insurance. However, they typically do not have long-term job security, and they are often paid less than tenure and tenure-track faculty.

While average annual pay nationally for tenured and tenure-track faculty is roughly $85,000, the median salary for full-time non-tenure track faculty falls around $50,000, according to surveys by the American Association of University Professors.

Meanwhile, National Adjunct Walkout Day was held this week on campuses across the country. But in the Boston area, where the adjunct unionization push has been an overall success so far, many part-time faculty decided against walking out or holding big demonstrations, officials said.

“Faculty in Boston are in a very different place than they are in other parts of the country,” said Jason Stephany,  a spokesman for the local SEIU campaign.

To see the original Boston Globe article Click Here.

 

Tufts University’s full-time professors vote to unionize

By Matt Rocheleau | Globe Correspondent February 13, 2015

Full-time professors at Tufts University voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to unionize.

The move marked a first for a local Service Employees International Union campaign that has successfully organized part-time faculty at several Boston-area schools over the past two years but until Thursday had not unionized full-time professors.

The Tufts instructors and lecturers are not on track to receive tenure, which is generally considered a permanent position.

By unionizing, the faculty hope to negotiate better work conditions.

“We’re hoping to have job security, better pay, and more of a voice, and the union, because of collective bargaining, gives us a strong voice,” said Claire Schub, a French literature lecturer who has taught at Tufts as a full-time, nontenure-track professor for 22 years. “It also makes us more a part of the academic community, so the students benefit ultimately,” added Schub, who helped lead the organizing effort.

Fifty-two of the Tufts faculty voted for unionizing, 24 voted against, and about a dozen did not cast a ballot during the two-day, in-person election, which was held at the Medford campus, according to SEIU officials. The next step for professors is to negotiate with the university to develop a contract.

Tufts spokeswoman Kimberly Thurler said in a statement that the university’s administration has supported the lecturers’ right to vote and respects their decision.

The statement said full-time lecturers “already have stable positions,’’ and receive the same benefits and average salary increases as tenure-stream faculty. The lecturers also play a role in university governance, the statement said. They have voting rights at faculty meetings and are members of and sometimes leaders of faculty-administration committees.

“Moving forward, we hope to work productively with the SEIU as the collective bargaining process begins,” the statement said.

Similar campaigns to organize full-time, nontenure-track faculty at other area schools, including Brandeis and Lesley universities, are underway, officials said.

While average annual pay nationally for tenured and tenure-track faculty is in the $85,000 range and can climb to more than twice that amount, the median salary for full-time nontenure-track faculty falls around $50,000, according to surveys by the American Association of University Professors.

But, unlike part-time or adjunct teachers, full-time faculty who are not on the path to tenure typically are eligible for employer benefits, including health and retirement insurance, and they often receive better pay than adjuncts.

Like part-timers, however, most full-time faculty who are not on the tenure track do not have long-term job security. They say they have little influence in decisions made by their colleges, including ones that directly affect their working conditions.

In the fall of 2013, adjunct professors at Tufts became the first of several local groups to organize since the SEIU launched its faculty unionization campaign. About 200 part-time faculty at Tufts reached a contract agreement that will give most a 22 percent pay raise over the next three years and better job security.

Last week, more than 750 part-time professors at Boston University voted to unionize and will soon enter contract negotiations.

The newly unionized professors from Boston area schools have joined Faculty Forward, which is a part of SEIU Local 509 and now has more than 2,700 members, officials said.

Daily Free Press | BU adjunct professors vote to unionize by a 2-to-1 margin

Written by J.D. Capelouto · February 5, 2015

BU OC Victory2As part of a yearlong campaign that has brought part-time faculty unions to several universities in Massachusetts, Boston University adjunct faculty voted Wednesday to join the Service Employees International Union Local 509.

With the 319-158 vote held by the National Labor Relations Board, more than 750 adjunct professors will unionize, advocating for better standards and improved stability, according to a Wednesday press release.

“It’s best when the university recognizes that it has a community and that we should be working together, and I think that the union will be a democratic process, as it was in today’s election,” said Dan Hunter, an English lecturer in the College of Arts and Sciences. “What’s important is that a group of people, adjuncts, who have been invisible, now cannot be ignored.”

Adjunct professors make up 41 percent of BU’s faculty, Hunter said.

The NLRB sent mail-in ballots to faculty members Jan. 13, allowing them to cast their votes in the election, The Daily Free Press reported.

The union will work to negotiate with the university over issues such as payroll, office space, longer contracts, job security and health benefits for the adjunct professors, Hunter said.

“What we really want to do is have as much conversation and discussion as we can on campus among the adjuncts and both people who supported the union and those who voted against it,” he said. “Now is the time to exercise democracy, to hear all the voices, to determine what adjuncts want the union to negotiate for.”

BU spokesman Colin Riley said the university looks forward to working with the adjunct union moving forward.

By becoming a part of SEIU Local 509, BU’s adjuncts join the faculties of Tufts University, Lesley University and Northeastern University, where individual union contract negotiations are in the process of being made, the release stated.

Laurie LaPorte, an anthropology lecturer in CAS, said she has been working on the unionization campaign for eight months. “I’m feeling pretty elated … listening to the stories of our adjunct colleagues and to have seen such an overwhelming turnout, we’re feeling pretty good about the outreach that we’ve done,” she said.

LaPorte said she looks forward to discussing different issues with the adjunct faculty, whether or not they voted in support of unionization.

“It feels very satisfying to be able to report back to the adjuncts with whom I’ve spoken that, ‘Yes, we are working toward actually having a voice for you to bring out your concerns and your issues and to work with the university administration on addressing those concerns,’” she said.

Gary Duehr, an adjunct professor in the College of Communication, said he is extremely pleased with the results and that the decision to unionize was a clear one.

“The only surprise to me was that it was 2-to-1 and not unanimous. It’s always interesting to me that anyone would vote against their own interests,” he said. “I understand that things can be complicated, but it’s great.”

Duehr said Tufts served as an example of how adjuncts should successfully unionize and negotiate multi-year contracts. “That’s kind of really beyond my imagination that something can even happen like that,” he said.

Several students said they are in support of the adjunct unionization. “Some of those professors bring a lot of unique experiences from different sectors, and they can only accommodate a part time schedule, and I think they really add to our educational experience, so we want to keep them happy too,” said Collette O’Connor, a freshman in the Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.

Justin Nadler, a freshman in the School of Management, said he was surprised to hear that adjunct faculty had only unionized now. “I feel like that would have been something they did a long time ago, if it improved their job conditions,” he said.

Alina Szremski, a sophomore in CAS, said spreading awareness about the working conditions of adjunct professors is important. “It’s kind of crazy that students pay so much tuition, and President [Robert] Brown makes over a million dollars a year, and then we can’t pay our adjuncts enough for them to live comfortably,” she said.

Hunter said the key to having a strong faculty is including all of its members. “You cannot have one faculty without bringing the adjuncts in and giving them a voice,” Hunter said. “We now have won that voice, so I look forward to very productive discussions about the future of the university.”

The Impact of Unionization on University Performance

diploma hat moneycassell text

Key Message: Unionization lowers costs and increases universities’ performance. 

A recent wide-ranging study by Kent State University professor Mark Cassell explored the impact of unionization on a University. He concluded that faculty unions benefit students and keep costs down by focusing on the classroom. Cassell writes:

“What impact does unionization have on university performance? The empirical analysis included several measures of university performance that reflected values of efficiency and effectiveness. Based on the experience of 432 public four-year institutions over 23 years, I find that unionization improves efficiency and effectiveness. Unionization contributes to lower budgets, higher graduation rates, and a greater number of degrees and completions.”

Key Messages:

• There is no link between faculty unions and rising tuition. The evidence suggests that faculty unions help universities refocus back on the classroom, containing costs and improving outcomes for students. The study revealed that “a positive change in the union status of a university on average reduces a university’s direct educational costs and core expenses.”

• The analysis finds little support for the view that unions hinder a university’s effectiveness. In fact, unionization is better for students: “unionization is positively associated with graduate rates, degrees awarded and completions and the relationship is statistically significant.”

There is no link between adjunct wages and rising tuition. If there was, tuition would be going down.

The study revealed that “a positive change in the union status of a university on average reduces a university’s direct educational costs and core expenses.”

Revenues at all types of degree-granting institutions have steadily increased in the last two decades, with private institutions showing more gain than public institutions. However, in both the private and public sectors, the proportion of total spending going toward the direct cost of instruction through faculty salaries has declined. Colleges and University administrators have decided to spend heavily outside the classroom, investing less in the core mission of instruction – faculty unions counter this trend.

Unions help center institutions on the core mission – teaching – and keep non-instructional budgets in check.

Mark Cassell: “The central hypothesis is that unionized institutions faculty play a more central role in managing the university. Indeed, much of what is negotiated in a collective bargaining agreement centers on issues of governance. Thus, in unionized institutions I expect a higher percentage of the education-related budget to be devoted to instruction than in non-unionized institutions. Relatedly, in unionized institutions I expect a lower percentage of the education-related budget to be devoted to administration than in non-unionized institutions.” And indeed he found: “Unionization leads universities to emphasize instruction over administration.”

Click here to see Mark Cassell’s full study.

Bentley Adjuncts Remain Hopeful for Unionization

vanguard

Bentley Adjuncts Remain Hopeful for Unionization

Attempt at building momentum towards a new vote continues

By Michaela Stephenson

Last semester, there was increased discussion on campus about creating a union for Bentley University adjunct professors. The discussion spurred from many open forum discussions and action committee meetings that spanned across the entire school year in hopes of finally establishing a legal obligation for the university to negotiate with Bentley adjunct professors on important employee benefits.

Over the course of the past year, the country saw many successes in forming adjunct unions. A growing group of dedicated staff and students at Bentley look to build off this success and continue to push for a vote in favor of unionizing. Professor Jack Dempsey, helping to lead the charge, gave a brief background of the different voting results from the past. Last fall, a little over a third of the Bentley adjunct professors signed a card in support of a vote in regards to getting an adjunct union at the university. “We had a very good ground game and outreach to adjuncts,” said Dempsey.

Professor Dempsey currently teaches writing and effective speaking courses, some key courses in the graduation requirements for many Bentley students. This semester, the group is building momentum towards a new vote and they are confident that it will happen soon. Currently, there are 225 adjunct professors at Bentley, making up approximately 40% of the faculty. This percentage is responsible for teaching over half the courses at Bentley. These professors only receive $5,000 per semester course and are limited to teaching only two courses per semester. “What is at issue is compensating adjunct faculty as the professionals that they are. Students usually do not know who is an adjunct professor and who is a full-time professor – we are all professors in their eyes,” said Professor Atlas in a past interview. This semester’s push for another vote comes after a recent unionization of adjuncts at nearby institution, Tufts University. According to Dempsey, Bentley’s committee has been affiliated with Tufts committee for unionizing, since the beginning. The hope is to follow suit shortly.

According to the Boston Globe, adjunct professors at Tufts will get a 22% pay raise over the course of the next three years. This year they are under a new contract that improves job security. This may act as a catalyst in negotiations on other campuses. Along with Tufts, Lesley University and Northeastern University are both in negotiations to unionize. Along with Bentley, Boston University and Simmons College are organizing campaigns. The new contract also makes adjunct professors eligible for health and retirement benefits.

The current salary cap at Bentley means that adjuncts do not reach the income threshold for healthcare. While professors are allowed to participate in university health plans, they are offered no university health plans. In contrast, full-time faculty members are offered 80% assistance in healthcare costs. Adjunct professors, however, still have similar duties as these full-time faculty members. These duties include designing courses and syllabi, meeting with students, mentoring students, composing recommendation letters and counseling after hours.

According to Professor Atlas “Not only do the professors teach their classes, but they prepare for each class, grade papers and exams, meet and communicate with students and routinely go out of their way to help students by doing such things as writing recommendations and providing career advice… Currently Bentley is one of the few universities where adjuncts have representation on the Faculty Senate,” said a statement from the University last year. If anyone is interested in getting involved, feel free to contact Professor Jack Dempsey or Professor Joan Atlas, the Faculty Senate Representative. Also, be on the lookout for any upcoming open forums on campus.

See the original Vanguard article here. 

Tufts Part-Time Professors to get Better Pay, Job Security

boston globe

Tufts Part-Time Professors to get Better Pay, Job Security

By Matt Rocheleau  | Globe Correspondent   October 27, 2014

Most part-time professors at Tufts University will get a 22 percent pay raise over the next three years and improved job security under a new contract that could influence negotiations at other schools in the Boston area and beyond where adjunct faculty have recently organized or are considering doing so.

The Tufts deal, a three-year agreement ratified Friday after receiving approval from more than 95 percent of the roughly 200 adjunct teachers, will also keep an existing arrangement where professors who teach at least three courses over the course of an academic year are eligible for health, retirement, tuition reimbursement, and other employee benefits, according to union officials.

Other improvements to working conditions include: first notice and a guaranteed interview for full-time openings; a revamped performance evaluation process; and the establishment of a $25,000-a-year fund that will pay adjunct faculty up to $500 a year to undergo professional development related to teaching.

“Previously, we had some benefits and advantages to working at the university, but they were not protected at all,” said Andy Klatt, who has taught Spanish and translation part-time at Tufts for 18 years and helped lead the unionization and negotiation efforts. “Now we have an agreement and some security.”

The contract goes into effect Jan. 1.

Part-time faculty members will generally receive at least a one-year appointment, though the university can hire teachers on a per-semester basis in certain cases, including to cover a sabbatical or leave of absence.

Lecturers with more than four years of service will receive two-year appointments, if approved through a performance review process. Those with more than eight years of service will be eligible for three-year appointments, the maximum length available to part-timers.

Previously, part-time faculty were never appointed for more than one year.

About 16 percent of Tufts adjuncts, who currently are the lowest paid, will receive a 43 percent raise over three years; another 19 percent of adjuncts, who are currently the highest paid, will receive cost-of-living increases during that span, officials said.

The remaining two-thirds of part-time professors, whose current pay falls between that of the other two groups, will receive a 22 percent raise over three years.

By September 2016, the final year of the contract, all Tufts part-time faculty will make at least $7,300 per course, and those with more than eight years of service will earn at least $8,760 per course, officials said.

Previously, faculty were paid as low as $5,115 per course, and even those with the most seniority were paid as low as $6,138 per course.

Professors will also now receive additional compensation for work outside the classroom — including advising, mentoring, and independent studies. And, if the university cancels a course taught by a faculty member who is on a three-year appointment, the professor will still be fully compensated; professors with shorter appointments will receive $750.

Tufts spokeswoman Kimberly Thurler said the contract “successfully balances the needs and priorities of the lecturers and the university.”

“The contract resolved important issues involving course assignments, compensation and security and strengthened the avenues for evaluation and accountability for performance,” she said via e-mail.

The contract ratification marked a major milestone for a campaign that has organized part-time faculty at two other Boston area colleges and that is pushing for professors at several other area institutions to unionize in an effort to improve their pay, benefits, and overall working conditions.

The Service Employees International Union launched a national effort a year-and-a-half ago to organize adjunct faculty at campuses across the country, including around Boston.

In September 2013, Tufts adjuncts became the first local group within the SEIU campaign to unionize. A month later, a push to organize at Bentley University in Waltham fell two votes short; however, adjunct faculty there are planning to hold another vote in the coming months.

In February, about 700 adjuncts at Lesley University in Cambridge unionized, followed by about 960 adjuncts at Northeastern University who organized in May. Faculty from both of those schools are now in negotiations.

Meanwhile, Boston University adjuncts expect to soon vote on whether to unionize, and campaigns to unionize are underway at Simmons College and other area schools.

Laurie LaPorte, who has taught anthropology part-time at BU since 2005 and is a member of the adjunct organizing committee there, said job security is a chief concern for her and her colleagues. She said she was impressed by how the Tufts contract addressed that issue and hopes that will help convince BU adjuncts that unionization will improve their work life.

“To see a contract come out where the university and the union have come together to say ‘let’s decrease that instability’ should be compelling to people [at BU] who are on the fence,” she said.

William Shimer, an adjunct who is helping to lead part-time faculty negotiations at Northeastern, said the Tufts contract “covers all the points we are asking for.”

However, adjuncts at other colleges that, unlike Tufts, do not already offer major benefits to part-time faculty may face greater hurdles during negotiations. For example, adjuncts at both Northeastern and BU are not eligible for health benefits and only some qualify for retirement benefits, according to part-time professors at each school.

“It will be more difficult, I think, in our negotiations,” Shimer said.

In 1975, about 30 percent of faculty across the country were employed part-time, according to the American Association of University Professors. Today, part-time faculty account for more than half of college teaching jobs, and about 76 percent of higher education instructors hold non-tenure-track positions.

Nationally, adjunct faculty are paid on average about $3,000 per three-credit course, the SEIU said. About 80 percent of them do not receive health insurance from their college, and about 86 percent do not receive retirement benefits. Employed on a per-course or per-semester basis, they typically have little to no job security.

Click here to see the original Boston Globe article.