In the wake of Monday’s announcement that the membership overwhelmingly voted in favor of strike authorization, which is precisely what we needed to do in order to signal PASSHE that our patience is pretty well taxed, this seems like a good time to follow that good news up with a nudge that I REALLY wish we didn’t have to keep doing.
While our CBA is one of the two best (if not the best) in the country in terms of its provisions for adjunct/non-tenure-track faculty, the general membership (by which I mean US, the rank and file) is lagging behind in terms of coming to grips with the fact that our adjunct faculty are just as much a part of the bargaining unit, and thus the union, as any tenured/tenure-track (T/TT) faculty member is.
Two things are prompting me to say this:
- During our Strike Authorization voting last week, I heard at least half a dozen times, either first-hand or via faculty who were staffing the voting stations, that T/TT faculty were “surprised” adjunct faculty were allowed to vote. And in one case, when I responded, “Of course they are, if they’re full members. Why wouldn’t they be,” the person said, “They can be full members?!?” I didn’t actually cry, but I almost did.
- A friend who is an adjunct faculty member and long-time APSCUF member (I’m not going to identify them any more specifically than that unless they volunteer it themselves) said semi-publicly this morning that they really wish APSCUF members would stop “Talk[ing] about us like we’re the help and don’t have ears.”
Those of us who are T/TT faculty do this all too often. Not every one of us every time, but as a collective, we all too often simply ignore our own members, or take them for granted. And we do it oftentimes for the exact reasons that we need to be most vocally supportive of our adjunct sisters and brothers–because their working conditions are worse than ours, their schedules often keep them from interacting socially and professionally with us, the list goes on and on.
So, again (and again, and again): our adjunct faculty are brothers and sisters, and we’re doing it wrong (very profoundly wrong) every single time we forget that.
If you know Dr. Mahoney and me, you know that we nearly always think pretty much the same things. Kevin has a gift for being a couple of steps ahead of me in his ability to make a clear case for what we both usually think.
His current piece on the Raging Chicken Press site is probably the strongest example of that phenomenon I’ve seen in 11 years of this. If you want to know what I think about the agreement, what it represents in terms of APSCUF’s status as a union and our role in defending public higher education, what it protects in terms of our job descriptions and workloads, how it defends against what was a brutal attack on our contingent faculty, what it costs economically and how those issues sift out, just read it.
Couldn’t have said it better myself.
A recent post on the APSCUF-KUXchange by friend and colleague Amy Lynch-Biniek. In a nutshell, she describes how the current PASSHE proposals regarding adjunct faculty hurt our adjunct brothers and sisters, our students, our departments, and our system.
To borrow a turn of phrase, you can tell a lot about a college by the way it treats its adjuncts. If you read the PASSHE Negotiation Objectives recently distributed to KU faculty via email (referred to parenthetically in this post as “Letter”), you are likely angered and dismayed by most if not all of their positions. For a moment, I’d like you to consider the repercussions of one element of their attack on quality education, their proposed treatment of contingent faculty. And make no mistake: the use and treatment of these faculty does indeed affect and reflect the education the state makes available to students.
Before I came to Kutztown University, I had been an adjunct at several colleges, though “adjunct” became a ridiculous term when I was running the writing center, directing the theater production and teaching several classes at a single institution on three “part-time” contracts. One…
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Our colleague Dr. Kevin Mahoney from KU says a lot here that I would also have said. He says it somewhat more savvily than I was going to, so I’m just reposting his version of it.
This past Saturday, APSCUF posted the following negotiations update on its blog:
APSCUF and PASSHE negotiators met Friday, September 14, at the Dixon Center in Harrisburg. The Chancellor’s team passed a proposal on retrenchment language and made suggestions for future bargaining sessions. APSCUF caucused and responded to their proposal in writing. The two sides reconvened and failed to come to agreement on the language, but agreed to session definitions for the next two times: on Oct. 5th APSCUF will present on curriculum, class size, and distance education and on Oct. 22nd the Chancellor’s team will discuss temporary workload and concessions on retiree health care. There was neither discussion of nor progress made on the Chancellor’s team’s demand for concessions on distance education, active and retiree health care, and temporary faculty workload.
There is so much packed into this statement, but I want to focus on one issue in…
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Filed under Advocacy, APSCUF, Benefits/Benefit Cuts, Budget, Budget Cuts, Collective Bargaining, Contingent faculty, Contract Negotiations, Office of the Chancellor, Tenure, Uncategorized
Not the news I wanted to wake up to on an otherwise pleasant Thurs morning. In today’s Inside Higher Ed, a story about a unionized cadre of part-time instructors (the union is an AFSCME affiliate) at the City Colleges of Chicago who have ratified a contract including merit pay for “student outcomes” (read: standardized test results); the merit pay replaces their longevity raises.
I’m willing to listen to the union’s explanation for why they accepted this, but the way it’s reported in this story isn’t very convincing. And any educational plan that Rahm Emmanuel endorses is probably horrible.
If you’ve talked to me about academic labor politics for more than 2 or 3 minutes, you probably know that I’ve become something of an evangelist about contingent labor in the last couple of years. It would be fair, I think, to accuse me of speaking with the righteousness of the converted, although that conversion–in my estimation–took about a decade longer than it should have.
I have also been writing, on and off over the last few years, about ways to expand our conception of shared governance to include populations that will help pressure management to cede back to faculty, and the communities we serve, at least a reasonable share of authority over our working conditions and areas of expertise.
Enter today’s (Monday, Nov 14) Chronicle of Higher Ed, featuring a story about an AAUP panel recommending that contingent faculty have access to shared governance just like regular full-time faculty on their campuses. For the record, these are draft recommendations; the final version isn’t on any official timetable.
Intuitively, this makes perfect sense to me. Anybody who has a stake in a policy should have something meaningful to say about whether the policy gets established and what it does. And, intuitively it makes sense to me that contingent faculty are a lot more likely to be policy allies than managers are, at least about most things most of the time.
There are criticisms coming from fulltime faculty, none of which is surprising, but no less galling (in my personal opinion) for their predictability. I won’t even give them the airtime by repeating them. Read them if you want. What they all boil down to is this: “We hate the exploitation of contingent faculty until altering the structure of academic labor costs us something.”
That’s not good enough.