In March, we met with about 25 adjunct faculty from about 10 departments to discuss the bargaining process and strategy as well as our goals for negotiations. We have 102 bargaining surveys completed and at least 1 person from every department has completed a survey. We will review the survey results at the meeting.
In the meetings, we talked a lot about the approach and strategy of bargaining. We want to make sure that we err on the side of inclusion and transparency. It is okay that we don’t know the answers to all of the questions nor do we need to marry a particular proposal or ‘one right answer’ to a particular problem. We have to demand that the administration and we measure our proposals based on how they improve students’ conditions of learning and return teaching and learning to a central place in the university’s mission.
We will also need to build a consensus among adjunct faculty in support of the goals that we set for our contract. We need to organize support from others in the Bentley community who care about the academic values of the institution and want to bring practice and resource commitments in line with the stated mission. This includes other faculty, students, their parents. etc.
While the contract negotiations are not reducible to one or two issues, we spent more time discussing pay in the first meeting and the problem of combined classroom and on-line teaching in the second meeting. We agreed pay is too low based on any reasonable standard (e.g., parity with full-time faculty, parity with Tufts adjuncts, adjunct compensation as a percentage of tuition dollars paid to Bentley for a given course, or just the basic premise that someone teaching 5 courses per year with an advanced degree should reasonably expect $50-60k per year plus benefits – not $25k with no benefits). The problem of teaching some students remotely while others are in the classroom is proving to be difficult and frustrating for both the faculty member and the students. Thus far, the administration has ignored the concerns and we will need to figure out how to approach the problem in bargaining.
In general, we agreed that our bargaining goals need to move past being invisible, marginal, disposable, and low paid faculty. That is why our agenda for the meeting reflects a paradigm shift to inclusion in one faculty, more regularized, stable employment, and pay that respects and values teaching and those who teach.
We look forward to seeing you on the 8th and at subsequent bargaining committee meetings as we prepare for the start of negotiations in the coming months.