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October 14, 2014

SEIU/Tufts University Joint Statement on Tentative Contract Agreement for Tufts Part-Time Lecturers

October 14, 2014 | By |

Tufts University and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) have reached a tentative agreement on a three-year contract for part-time lecturers in Tufts’ School of Arts and Sciences.

Details about the agreement will be made public upon ratification by all Tufts part-time lecturers in the School of Arts and Sciences. Negotiations began in January of this year, and the bargaining teams have met regularly since that time. There are about 200 lecturers in the bargaining unit and efforts are underway to complete the process by late October.

The university and the SEIU are pleased to have reached this accord through a process that reflected a mutual commitment to students and respect for the interests and concerns of both the part-time lecturers and the university administration.

“We recognize the valuable contributions our part-time Arts & Sciences faculty make to the vibrant academic environment at Tufts. We believe this contract reflects our commitment to recognizing those contributions within the overall context of the university’s priorities,” said James M. Glaser, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences ad interim.

Tufts Part-time Lecturer Andy Klatt said, “Our tentative agreement with Tufts University reflects the institution’s long tradition of an inclusive and collaborative environment. Our negotiations were not always easy, but were always conducted in a respectful, honest, and collegial manner with the Tufts administration’s committee. We will recommend this proposal to all the part-time lecturers who will vote to approve it later this month. We believe it sets a high standard and balances the University’s stated need for flexibility and our goal of winning greater stability and security as members of the Tufts faculty.”

mquinn

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October 3, 2014

Adjuncts at Champlain, Burlington in VT File for Union Election

October 3, 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

September 22, 2014

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

September 22, 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.”

mquinn

By

September 12, 2014

GAO Report on Student Debt and Older Americans

September 12, 2014 | By |

A new study by the Government Accountability Office found that a small but increasing number of older Americans are burdened by a growing student debt load.  According to the report, “Student debt among older American households has grown in recent years. The percentage of households headed by those aged 65 to 74 having student debt grew from about 1 percent in 2004 to about 4 percent in 2010.”

“While those 65 and older account for a small fraction of  the total amount of outstanding federal student debt, the outstanding federal student debt for this age group grew from about $2.8 billion in 2005 to about $18.2 billion in 2013,” the report noted. Overall, the total outstanding student debt is $1.1 trillion.

The report was released a Senate Aging Committee hearing this week. “Some may think of student loan debt as just a young person’s problem,” said Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., chairman of the committee. “Well, as it turns out, that’s increasingly not the case.”

Read more about the hearing and the report here.

jhuskey

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September 3, 2014

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

September 3, 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

August 26, 2014

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

August 26, 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

August 25, 2014

St. Louis Adjunct Organizing Featured in STL Post Dispatch

August 25, 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

August 4, 2014

Tomorrow: Join A Call With Senator Dick Durbin on PSLF, Adjuncts

August 4, 2014 | By |

Join us for a call with Senator Dick Durbin and adjunct activists Tuesday, August 5th at 5:20 EDT. Senator Durbin will provide an update of the bill he introduced last week that expands the Public Service Loan forgiveness program, and adjunct activists will share their debt stories. We’ll also get an update about the exciting new programming coming to the Adjunct Action this summer and fall. Click here to RSVP: http://action.seiu.org/page/s/call-with-durbin-adjuncts

Durbin Join Call

mquinn

By

July 31, 2014

Big News: Sen. Dick Durbin Introduces Adjunct Faculty Loan Fairness Act

July 31, 2014 | By |

With advanced degrees, adjunct faculty are well-prepared to teach. But with such degrees often comes significant debt, and few options for keeping the student debt burden manageable. A new bill introduced in the U.S. Senate reflects the momentum adjunct faculty have created in the past year toward making big changes in their workplaces while helping shape the future of higher education.

Yesterday, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced legislation that will help adjunct faculty access the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF). The Adjunct Faculty Loan Fairness Act would make a tremendous impact on the lives of thousands of adjunct and contingent faculty, who now make up a majority of America’s college instructors and more than half of whom work part-time.

“As their budgets have tightened, colleges and universities have become increasingly reliant upon part-time adjunct faculty who face low pay, few if any benefits, and minimal job security,” Durbin said in a statement. “The vast majority of these educators hold advanced degrees, and as a result, bear the heavy burden of student loan debt. It is only right that we expand their access to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, a benefit already available to many of their full-time colleagues.”

“As a part-time, temporary worker with a crushing amount of school debt, I know how important student debt reform is for ensuring education retains the promise of social mobility for both me and my fellow adjuncts and the students we teach,” said Marga Ryersbach, an adjunct who teaches in New York. “I’m pleased that Senator Durbin is working to make sure we have access to a program that helps correct the imbalances wrought by huge amounts of education debt.”

Student debt has become a national issue and it’s one that is critically important for part-time and non-tenure track faculty, as the average debt burden for borrowers with advanced degrees is now $61,000. Furthermore, the average pay per course reported by adjunct faculty is approximately $3,000, which means that an adjunct who teaches eight courses per year will make just $24,000 annually.  Adjunct faculty often have trouble making ends meet, let alone, paying down their student debt.

Congress created the PSLF program in 2007 to offer student loan forgiveness to people with careers in the public or nonprofit sectors. But as the program is currently structured, many adjunct faculty are not eligible to participate. The current law states that in order to be eligible for PSLF a person must work an average of 30 hours a week over the course of a year. Since adjunct faculty do not have control over their course load (most times school administrators decide how many classes an instructor can teach), whether they meet the 30 hour requirement is out of their hands. As a result, just one semester or year with a low course load can prevent adjunct faculty from obtaining PSLF credit for their public service for that year.

The Adjunct Faculty Loan Fairness Act will allow adjunct faculty to access PSLF even if they have a low course load that does not meet the 30 hour eligibility requirement. Those who teach at least one course in a given year will qualify for PSLF. However, contingent  faculty who have a separate, full-time, private sector job will not have access to this program. This means that the program will only be open to those adjunct faculty who really need the benefits of PSLF—those who make a living from teaching.

“While we are joining together for a voice at Hamline, we are also focused on the big challenges facing higher education,” Hamline University adjunct faculty member David Weiss said. “It’s great to know that adjunct and contingent faculty have allies in Congress like Senator Durbin who are working to ensure that adjunct faculty are included in the PSLF program. While thousands of contingent faculty are joining together, this bill is a huge opportunity to take our movement to the next level and change the lives of adjunct faculty members by improving the PSLF.”

Stay tuned for more on the Adjunct Faculty Loan Fairness Act and how you can get involved in making it a reality.

mquinn

By

July 31, 2014

Adjunct Faculty Loan Fairness Act Factsheet

July 31, 2014 | By |

Part-time faculty are a large and growing part of the workforce in higher education.

  • In 2011, approximately 1.5 million faculty members worked in postsecondary education in the United States.[i] Of those, over 768,000 are part-time faculty.[ii]  
  • The reality is that institutions of higher education now overwhelmingly rely upon adjunct academic labor. Adjunct professors are instructors that are hired on a course-by-course basis or a semester-to-semester basis, have no job security, are paid minimal compensation, are usually provided no benefits, and are outside the tenure system.

 Adjunct faculty often have trouble making ends meet, paying student debt.

  • The average pay per course reported by adjunct faculty is approximately $3,000.[iii]An adjunct who teaches eight courses per year will make just $24,000 annually.
  • In order to “make it” in academia, most adjunct faculty must obtain advanced degrees. A 2012 survey by the Coalition on the Academic Workforce found that over 94% of the part-time faculty respondents had an advanced degree.[iv]
  • For most, pursuing an advanced degree means taking out student loans. Almost three-quarters of graduate degree recipients have an average of $61,120 in student loans.[v]

 Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Overview

  • The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program (PSLF), established as a part of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 (Pub. L. No. 110-84, 121 Stat. 784 and codified as amended in scattered sections of 20 U.S.C.), is designed to encourage graduates to pursue a career in public service.
  • PSLF offers loan forgiveness after ten years (120 payments) of full-time work in government or the non-profit sector. 

 Coverage

  • PSLF covers government entities, public institutions and not-for-profit organizations that are tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. The non-profit organizations include most private, not-for-profit elementary and secondary schools, private, not-for-profit colleges and universities, and thousands of other organizations, agencies, and charities.

 Current Eligibility Requirements

  • In order to be eligible for the program, one must work “full-time,” which the statute defines as 30 hours per week over the course of a year.[vi]
  • If you work part-time, you can qualify for PSLF by combining the hours you work at multiple jobs for an overall average of 30 hours per week. If you do not meet that 30-hour requirement you will not get credit for PSLF for that year.

 How does PSLF Fail Part-Time Faculty?

  • Some part-time faculty will meet the 30-hour benchmark by combining the hours they work at multiple jobs.
  • However, since school administrators decide how many courses a part-time instructor can teach, many part-time faculty have little control over their own course load. Part-time instructors do not get to choose whether they can meet the 30-hour eligibility requirement.
  • Just one semester with a low course load can prevent an instructor from obtaining credit for PSLF for that year. For instance, if an instructor teaches five 3-credit courses during the fall semester and just two 3-credit courses during the spring semester, he or she may fail to be eligible for PSLF and will not get credit for that year.

 Overview of the Adjunct Faculty Loan Fairness Act

  • The Adjunct Faculty Loan Fairness Act will honor the public service of adjunct faculty by allowing adjunct faculty to access PSLF even if they have a low course load that does not meet the 30 hour eligibility requirement.
  • Adjunct faculty who teach at least one course in a given year will qualify for PSLF.
  • Adjunct faculty who have a separate, full-time, private sector job will not have access to this program. This means that the program will only be open to those adjunct faculty who really need the benefits of PSLF—those who make a living from teaching.

 The Impact of the Adjunct Faculty Loan Fairness Act

  • Part-time faculty with student loans will be the only people impacted by this bill. There is no public data on the number of adjunct faculty with student loans. However, we do know, as referenced above, that:

o   Adjunct faculty tend to have low wages and poor benefits, they have advanced degrees which means they probably have student loans, and they have a variable course load that is largely out of their control. Most importantly, they are vital public servants who need PSLF, yet are blocked from stable access to this important program as it’s currently structured.

[i] John W. Curtis, “The Employment Status of Instructional Staff Members in Higher Education, Fall 2011,” American Association of University Professors, April 2014, P5. http://www.aaup.org/sites/default/files/files/AAUP-InstrStaff2011-April2014.pdf.  

[ii] Ibid.

[iii]Audrey Williams June and Jonah Newman, “Adjunct project reveals wide range in pay,” Chronicle of Higher Education, January 4, 2013, accessed October 3, 2013, http://chronicle.com/article/Adjunct-Project-Shows-Wide/136439/.

[iv]“A Portrait of Part-Time Faculty Members,” Table 9, Coalition on the Academic Workforce, June 2012, accessed October 3, 2013, http://www.academicworkforce.org/CAW_portrait_2012.pdf.

[v] “Average Undergraduate Debt, Graduate Debt, and Total Debt for Graduate Degree Recipients, 2007-08,” Figure 2009_8B, The College Board, http://trends.collegeboard.org/student-aid/figures-tables/average-undergraduate-debt-graduate-debt-and-total-debt-graduate-degree-recipients-2007-08.

[vi] Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, 34 C.F.R. § 685.219 (2010).

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