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Kate Bullard

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November 4, 2014

AAN Member’s Testimony on Adjunct Hours for Department of Education

November 4, 2014 | By |

Adjunct Action Network member Krista Eliot submitted the following testimony to the Department of Education (DOE) on the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. Read her story and submit your comments on adjunct hours and working conditions to the DOE.

Testimony by Krista Eliot, Adjunct Anthropology Instructor

I am a contingent faulty member–one of the new faculty majority who teach half of the courses offered on college campuses in the United States today. Although I love my job as an adjunct community college instructor in the San Diego area, it is very difficult to make ends meet. Community colleges in San Diego County typically pay their adjunct faculty $3,000-$4,000 per course, which means that I can expect to make approximately $35,000 per year, teaching the equivalent of a full-time course load at three different colleges. My husband is also an adjunct, and neither of us has employment that provides us with health insurance. We pay out-of-pocket for insurance for ourselves and our three-year-old son. 

In addition, we have a combined student loan debt of $140,000 – twice our anticipated annual income for the foreseeable future. We are in the process of applying for Public Service Loan Forgiveness, but we do not know if our applications will be approved, due to the difficulty of demonstrating that we are, in fact, employed “full-time” in public service.

Although each of our combined workloads (teaching at three colleges each) equals or exceeds the workload of a full-time faculty member, we aren’t hourly workers, so it is difficult to prove that we actually work far more than the minimum average of 30 hours per week that the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program requires. The matter is further complicated by the fact that most of the colleges where we teach pay us per instructional hour. This means that on paper, it appears that we only work an average of about 15 hours per week (the number of hours we spend in the classroom). But this is only a fraction of the actual work that we do – it does not include the many hours that we spend preparing lessons, evaluating student work, reading and answering emails, and meeting with students. 

In light of the issues raised by our story, which illustrates problems faced by thousands of other adjunct faculty with high student loan debt, I ask the Department of Education to do the following:

1. Preserve all existing loan forgiveness programs, and provide a reasonable method for determining full-time employment for adjunct faculty for Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

The standard in the proposed Adjunct Faculty Loan Fairness Act, which would extend public service loan forgiveness to all adjunct faculty for whom teaching is their main income, provides the fairest measure for determining eligibility, and this is the standard I recommend that the Department of Education adopt. Most adjunct faculty who make their living by teaching put in far more than the minimum average of 30 hours per week, whether or not these hours are documented on paper.

Another possibility would be to adopt guidelines similar to those issued by the  IRS for employers to determine health insurance eligibility under the Affordable Care Act. These guidelines credit adjunct faculty with 1.25 hours of work outside the classroom for every hour in the classroom. However, it needs to be recognized that the IRS number is a very low estimate. Two or more hours of work outside the classroom for every hour in the classroom is a much more realistic estimate of the real work that we do.

2. Extend PAYE to ALL Borrowers Not Previously Eligible.

All people with financial need and eligible loans should be included in the expansion of loan repayment programs like Pay As You Earn. Responsible borrowers who make payments on their loans for twenty years should have the remainder of their debt forgiven. 

3. Make sure that all borrowers are informed of their student loan repayment options, including any loan forgiveness programs for which they may be eligible.

 It has been my experience that most of my coworkers don’t know about their loan repayment options, or about the possibility that they may be eligible for loan forgiveness. The Department of Education needs to make enrollment accessible and easy.

jhuskey

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October 29, 2014

Boston University Adjunct Faculty Announce Union Election Filing

October 29, 2014 | By |

Adjunct faculty at Boston University announced that they have filed for a union election to join SEIU Local 509 as part of the regional and national Adjunct Action campaign to raise standards in higher education.

Boston University adjuncts are continuing to build support while taking an important step towards a vote to join colleagues at Tufts, Northeastern and Lesley universities who have joined SEIU in the last year. The filing comes days after Tufts University part-time faculty overwhelmingly approved a landmark first union contract that covers roughly 200 part-time instructional faculty.

Laurie LaPorte teaches in the Anthropology department at BU. She said, “I’m thrilled that my colleagues and I are a step closer to a union by filing for an election, adding to the momentum that we’re all building in the Boston area. The recent Tufts contract is a great accomplishment. It shows that adjuncts have the power to reverse the trend of ever-increasing contingency in higher education. It’s important to think about the real benefits from the reversal of this trend, particularly in regard to providing quality education and instruction to our students, which is the very purpose of higher education.”

Sixty-six percent of Boston University faculty are not on the tenure track and 41 percent of BU faculty are part-time. The trend at BU follows a national crisis in higher education that has led to broad concern over issues like the marginalization of teaching, academic isolation and job stability.

Dan Hunter teaches playwriting, politics and public policy at BU. He said, “As Boston University has grown in the national education ranking, so has the number of adjuncts and part-time faculty teaching at BU. We are critical to the success that BU has attained, yet adjuncts have no voice in the future of the university, low pay, no job security and no benefits. Adjuncts have the same credentials and are held to the same standards as tenured and full-time faculty.  Through our union, we are asking Boston University to support all its teachers and invest in the classroom experience.”

mquinn

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October 29, 2014

Boston Globe Article on Tufts Contract

October 29, 2014 | By |

Check out a new article in the Boston Globe

Tufts part-time professors to get better pay, job security

“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 where adjunct faculty have recently organized or are considering doing so.

The Tufts deal, a three-year agreement ratified Friday, will also keep an existing arrangement that makes professors who teach at least three courses over the course of an academic year eligible for health, retirement, tuition reimbursement, and other employee benefits, according to union officials.”

Read the full article here.

jhuskey

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October 27, 2014

Adjunct Faculty at Washington University in St. Louis File for Union Election

October 27, 2014 | By |

Adjunct and contingent faculty at Washington University announced today that they have filed for a union election as part of a national movement that is raising standards in higher education.

Forty-four percent of faculty in St. Louis area private, non-profit colleges and universities work part time and 73 percent of all faculty are not on the tenure track. While revenues and tuition have increased steadily over the last two decades, spending on instruction has declined – and it’s adjunct faculty and their deeply-in-debt students who are suffering as a result.

Rin Henderson teaches at Washington University. She said, “I’m proud to have received my doctorate from Washington University, and I love teaching the students there. But like many in my position, I often feel insecure about the future and struggle to give my students the full attention they deserve. Filing for a union election is a crucial step toward giving teachers like me a voice in the conversations that determine not only our own security, but the amount of time and consideration we can devote to the students in our care.”

Scott Granneman teaches in the Communications Department at Washington University. He said, “I support forming a union because it promotes fairness for everyone: workers and employers. It gives adjuncts a united voice, and it makes it easier for the administration to work together with adjuncts to create a better educational environment for everyone.”

Washington University contract faculty are following in the footsteps of non-tenure faculty at more than a dozen universities who have joined Adjunct Action in the past year, including Northeastern University and Tufts University in Boston, Howard University and Georgetown University in Washington, DC who have all voted for unionization in order to strengthen their voices and improve working conditions for all part-time faculty in America.

jhuskey

By

October 27, 2014

Tufts University Part-time Lecturers Approve Landmark First Contract

October 27, 2014 | By |

***Learn more about the Tufts part-time lecturer contract at the 2014 Boston Symposium on November 15. RSVP here.***

Tufts University part-time faculty have overwhelmingly approved a landmark first union contract that covers roughly 200 part-time instructional faculty. The three-year agreement makes groundbreaking progress in job stability, includes a significant increase in per course pay and establishes new pathways for professional development.

In September 2013, Tufts part-time lecturers were the first Boston area faculty to form a union through the Adjunct Action campaign, a national project of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). A year later, more than 2,000 adjunct faculty in Boston are united in SEIU. Lesley and Northeastern University are currently in the early stages of contract negotiations, while Boston University part-time faculty are building towards a union vote.

Andy Klatt teaches Spanish at Tufts. He said, “We are pleased that part-time faculty and the administration have come together in a positive and collaborative process to produce an agreement that will improve the working lives of faculty, advance the goals that we share as a learning community, and benefit our students. We hope that our non-confrontational process and the agreement that we reached will serve as positive models for other universities in the Boston area and around the country as we work together to address the national crisis of contingent academic labor.”

The Tufts contract is an important milestone in the national conversation on contingent faculty. Half of the nation’s faculty are now part-time with little or no job security from semester to semester. The Tufts part-time lecturer contract includes pay increases, in some cases up to 40 percent per course over the life of the agreement and multiyear teaching appointments with pay protections for cancelled courses.

Tufts part time lecturer Elizabeth Lemons said, “We made real progress toward equitable working conditions and full inclusion in the Tufts community. Our work, our contributions, our value are now more acknowledged. This is an important beginning, not only for us at Tufts, but also for our colleagues at other universities in Boston and nationally who are committed to raising standards in higher education.”

At a Glance: 2014 Tufts Part-time Lecturer Contract

For the first time, most part-time faculty will have the security of knowing that they have a job next year – reversing the trend towards contingency that has marginalized the profession.
• Everyone will have at least 1 year contracts.
• By the end of the contract period, lecturers with more than 4 years of service will be eligible for 2 year appointments and those with more than 8 years will be eligible for 3 year contracts.
• Part-time lecturers will get first notice and fair consideration for full-time positions including a guaranteed interview. If the part-time faculty member isn’t offered the position, the instructor can find out why in a meeting with the dean or head of the department.

All Tufts part-time Lecturers will receive a meaningful pay increase – as much as a 40 percent raise over the life of the contract in Romance Languages.
• By September 2016, all Tufts part-time faculty will make at least $7,300 a course. Minimum for someone with more than 8 years of service is $8,760.
• The contract clearly states that work outside the classroom (e.g., advising, mentoring and independent studies) will be compensated.
• Those with a 3-year contract will receive full compensation for a cancelled course.

Tufts part-time lecturers contract reflects how critically important part-time faculty are to the full life of the university.
• A revamped evaluation process will be used to improve performance, not punish.
• The contract sets up a professional development fund for scholarship and artistic practice that contributes to teaching excellence.

jhuskey

By

October 24, 2014

St. Louis Post Dispatch Editorial: Adjuncts unite for better education

October 24, 2014 | By |

Following up on last week’s feature story in the Post-Dispatch, the newspaper’s editorial board took a stand with adjunct faculty in the Labor Day edition. They wrote:

Despite lip service to the importance of attaining a college education, the critical need to compete with highly educated students from other countries, the value added to a life when educational goals are attained, the corporatization of higher ed demands the second-class citizenship of adjunct professors.
Many of these second-tier teachers are first-class educators being forced to teach without tools. They don’t have offices so can’t meet with students, unless they want to gather behind the trunks of their cars, which generally serve as their filing cabinets.
Adjuncts are fighting back. On this Labor Day, their efforts should be heralded as they take a page from the annals of the working poor of earlier generations and other industries. The adjuncts are organizing.
Part-time and contingent faculty are working together in St. Louis to reverse trends that have lead to a marginalized workforce by forming unions. Stay tuned for more on campaigns in the St. Louis metro area this fall.
jhuskey

By

October 24, 2014

University of the District of Columbia Part-Time Faculty Vote to Join Majority of DC Adjuncts in SEIU

October 24, 2014 | By |

Adjunct faculty at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) have voted to join their colleagues at Georgetown, Howard, George Washington and American universities and form a union in SEIU Local 500. A vast majority voted in favor of forming a union, joining a rapidly growing national union movement to address the crisis in higher education and the troubling trend toward a marginalized teaching faculty.

Seventy-five percent of adjunct faculty in Washington, DC are now united in SEIU Local 500. Professor Juan Laster, a UDC adjunct, said, “We worked very hard for this victory, but this is only the first step. I am looking forward to working with the administration on a first contract that respects our work as educators and faculty and as a key part of the UDC community. I am also proud to be joining Howard University as the second HBCU to have a union for part-time faculty.”

Adjunct faculty at UDC are already working on issues to discuss during first contract negotiations. Workplace conditions in higher education have quickly and dramatically changed for the people responsible for the core mission of instruction in our colleges and universities. Contingent faculty are now a majority of college and university faculty, and through their union contracts, adjunct faculty are already winning better pay, job security and access to professional development.

Throughout the Washington, DC area and across the country adjunct faculty continue to fight to address the crisis in higher education: a marginalized teaching faculty, administrative bloat, quickly rising tuition, and record levels of student debt. Thousands of adjunct and contingent workers have joined SEIU/Adjunct Action in the last year.

Workers at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York and the California College of the Arts are set to vote to form their union in early September, following in the footsteps of faculty at a dozen other schools, including the Maryland Institute College of Art, Northeastern University, Hamline University, San Francisco Art Institute, Georgetown, Howard University and Mills College, all of whom have joined SEIU/Adjunct Action since May 2013.

In addition to five schools in Washington, SEIU Local 500 represents adjunct faculty at Montgomery College and the Maryland Institute College of Art.

jhuskey

By

October 24, 2014

St. Louis Adjunct Organizing Featured in STL Post Dispatch

October 24, 2014 | By |

Adjunct faculty are ramping up efforts to form unions and solve the crisis in higher education this semester. And on Sunday, was front page news In the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

In the feature story, Andrew Nelson and Gail Brody share their story and why they are forming unions at campuses in the St. Louis area.

‘Nelson gets paid about $2,500 a semester for every three-credit course he teaches. So he picks up as many courses as he can, splitting his time between two universities to make ends meet.
But, he said, it’s not just about money.
“’The most important thing is that we have no input into the departments we work in. We have no say on textbooks, either,” he said. “So other people determine what we are going to teach and how we are going to teach it.’”
mquinn

By

October 24, 2014

Adjuncts at Champlain, Burlington in VT File for Union Election

October 24, 2014 | By |

Burlington, VT – Adjunct and contingent faculty at two Vermont colleges announced today that they have filed for union elections as part of a statewide campaign and a national movement that is raising standards in higher education. Part-time instructors at Champlain and Burlington Colleges believe a union will give them a stronger voice for both faculty and the students they teach.

Over 40 percent of faculty at Vermont’s private, non-profit colleges and universities work part time and 72 percent of all faculty are not on the tenure track. Adjunct faculty, now the majority of teaching faculty across the country, typically have no job security, no benefits and low pay that forces adjuncts to string together jobs at multiple colleges and universities to make ends meet. At the same time, revenues and tuition have increased steadily over the last two decades while spending on instruction has declined – and it’s adjuncts and their deeply-in-debt students who are suffering as a result.

Jeanne Lieberman teaches at Champlain College. “We love to teach, but we’re isolated and invisible in many ways on campus,” she said. “Forming a union gives us a voice in the decision-making process that affects our jobs, and our students. We are heartened to know that across Vermont, adjunct faculty are on our way to forming a union to strengthen the educational mission of our colleges and make them even better for our students.”

“It’s really exciting to see adjuncts organizing and coming together in Burlington as part of a growing labor movement in Vermont that’s on the upsurge, and we and many people across the state support them,” said James Haslam, the executive director of The Vermont Workers’ Center.

“Today is just the beginning and we are ready to build the support necessary to form our union and make our schools a better place for all faculty and students,” said Rebecca Weisman, adjunct faculty at Burlington College. “Over the next few weeks, we will to reach out to faculty here at Burlington, at Champlain, and other schools and who are ready to raise standards in higher education.”

“A union victory isn’t about a quick fix for salaries,” said Naomi Winterfalcon from Champlain College. “There are many issues that are critical for the future of higher education in Vermont and across the nation. A union is way for us to begin making changes with the support of the entire community.”

Vermont adjunct faculty are following in the footsteps of adjuncts at more than a dozen universities who have joined Adjunct Action in the past year, including The College of St. Rose in Albany, New York where adjuncts voted to join SEIU Local 200United last week. They join faculty at the Howard University and Georgetown University in Washington, DC, Antioch University in Seattle and Northeastern University in Boston who have all voted for unionization in order to strengthen their voices and improve working conditions for all part-time faculty in America.

jhuskey

By

October 24, 2014

College of St Rose Adjuncts Vote Overwhelmingly to Join SEIU/Adjunct Action

October 24, 2014 | By |

Adjunct professors at The College of Saint Rose have voted overwhelmingly to join adjunct faculty at schools across the country in SEIU/Adjunct Action. The victory is a step forward for adjuncts in New York State working to improve the working conditions of the increasing numbers of part-time and contingent faculty in higher education.

Saint Rose adjuncts will join SEIU Local 200United as part of Adjunct Action, a project of the Service Employees International Union that includes over 21,000 adjuncts across the country. The final vote count was 175 yes to 61 no.

Alyssa Colton, an adjunct instructor of English, said: “We would not have been able to do this so quickly and thoroughly without the hard work of the St. Rose adjuncts, full-time faculty, and alumni, students, and community leaders like Mayor Kathy Sheehan, Councilmembers Judd Krasher and Leah Golby, and Assemblywoman Pat Fahy, who have been supporting us the entire time. The students and the surrounding community stand to gain as much as adjuncts from improved conditions for part-timers and we are excited to get to work making these vital improvements.”

Throughout the Capital District and across the country, adjunct faculty continue to fight to address the crisis in higher education: a marginalized teaching faculty, quickly rising tuition, and record levels of student debt.

Bradley Russell, an adjunct instructor of Anthropology and member of the organizing committee, reflected on the victory: “This vote is historic for the College of Saint Rose. It is extremely gratifying to see how many of our fellow adjuncts stood up and made it clear that they want a decisive voice on campus. For the first time, adjunct faculty members will now have a well-earned say in our own futures. I look forward to working with the administration to improve teaching conditions, the student experience and the college as a whole. We trust that this is the beginning of a collective bargaining process that will move us into a positive new day for the college. It is time to come together for real and lasting change. Today Saint Rose took an important step to live up to its well-known commitment to social justice. I could not be more pleased with the results to date and anticipate great things ahead.”

St. Rose faculty are following in the footsteps of adjuncts across the country. The University of the District of Columbia, Antioch University in Seattle, Hamline University, San Francisco Art Institute, and Northeastern University have all recently voted to join SEIU/Adjunct Action. Supporters of the St. Rose vote for unionization see this as vital first step to strengthening voices and improving working conditions for all part-time faculty in the Capital District.

“This vote is a heartening reminder that change is possible when enough people decide the time has come,” said Jazmine Gabriel, an adjunct instructor of philosophy who has taught at the Sage Colleges and Siena College along with St Rose. “Speaking up takes courage, and the adjunct faculty members at St. Rose have demonstrated true courage by participating in this process and committing to envisioning and designing a better future. May this vote serve as an inspiration and example to the many of us who face similar challenges at other colleges in the Capital District. St. Rose now has the opportunity to be a leader in the community by helping to set the standards for fair working conditions through trust and collaboration with the bargaining unit.”