PSU Adjunct get Art-y

Many of PCC adjuncts also teach at PSU. Here is some news from PSU shared with us by one of PCC’s instructors, Davida Jordan. It is an email from the PSU Adjunct Union President Kelly Cowan about a creative action at PSU:

When you are back on campus for the Fall check out the exhibition organized by adjuncts in PSU’s School of Art+Design and sponsored by PSUFA.

[Con]temporary Faculty

An exhibition of artwork by all 75+ adjuncts in PSU’s School of Art + Design

September 2nd – 30th, 2015

Closing reception: September 30th, 5-8pm

Littman Gallery

Smith Memorial Student Union

Portland State University

1825 SW Broadway

Portland, OR 97201

[Con]temporary Faculty visualizes the numerous and dynamic adjunct faculty members who help to keep PSU’s School of Art & Design running. Many of us don’t know each other, and our creative and scholarly pursuits are diverse, but we walk the same paths to the copy machine, faculty mailboxes, and office printer on a frequent basis. Considering this, we invited our fellow adjuncts to utilize our common medium and contribute an 11 x 17in. black-and-white, Xerox copy, print, or paper construction for the show. 

      Beyond showcasing the work of the talented artists, art hisorians, and graphic designers who work in the school, the exhibition creates a visual structure through which we can begin to recognize all 75+ of our colleagues (even those who weren’t able to contribute), and open discussions about our varied experiences as members of a growing workforce of part-time professors. 

Response to Survey on Our Top PT Bargaining Issue: Job Security

The Federation’s’ major request in bargaining this year for “part-time” instructors is that the work of these faculty members be normalized: those instructors who have been teaching enough to qualify for health insurance in the past three years should be offered a multi-year contract. Their supervisors have found their service to PCC students to be of a high quality, as demonstrated by their assignment to teach year upon year, so this service should not come with such constant and extreme financial anxiety.

The administration bargaining team came back with a counter-proposal, which was summarized earlier on this blog. The PT members of the negotiating team (Minoo Marashi and Corrinne Crawford) needed input from their PT colleagues to know how to proceed. So we sent out a survey– late in summer term. We were uncertain of how much interest or energy it would receive because of this bad timing. But we were delighted and surprised by the responses – 209 PT instructors took the time to give detailed feedback, sharing their experiences at PCC and spelling out their concerns with the counter-proposal.

(The federation represents all FT and PT instructors, along with Academic Professionals. PT faculty make up approximately 55% of the employees represented, but it is the group with the smallest percentage of active membership. So the 209 people who responded comprise approximately 1/3 of the active PT members — a response rate to be envied!!)

Here is some of what was said:

76% said they favored the multi-year contract idea, 15%  were unsure (and as careful academics, most wanted more information), and 9% expressed opposition.

Just under 50% expressed concern with the idea that the contracts could go to candidates not currently teaching at PCC.

An additional 20% listed their top concern as the administration refusal to consider seniority as any part of a formula for determining who gets the position. Put together, that is 70% who are expressing support for the aspect of the original proposal that got lost in the administration counter — that the multi-year contracts be used as a way of normalizing the work lives of people who have been serving PCC students year upon year, but always with the threat over their heads that the employment could just dry up — not because their work was inadequate or sub-standard, but for a host of mysterious, non-transparent, and suspicious reasons.

12% listed their top concern that the multi-year contracts were offered as a replacement for assignment rights. Not surprisingly, several people who listed this as their top concern mentioned the huge amount of energy and running-around they had dedicated to the goal of getting assignment rights. So they were loath to have them just disappear.

Here is a selection of comments from the survey:

  • I feel that with PT there should be seniority the same as FT and that we should be grandfathered into the multi-year contracts and not have to “apply” as many of us have been teaching for several years. I also feel that it should be all of us not a chosen few.
  • I need a clear path to a job secure position. I can’t stay a temp worker forever.
  • [What matters to me is] if my classes do not get enough students. The setting of class sizes at 20 puts a lot of pressure on PT faculty to promote, distribute fliers and contact former students to get people to take your class. The amount of money we gave the former president to leave could fund over 100 empty classes.
  • Although the federation’s initial goal was to provide security to part-time faculty, this counter proposal would in fact weaken my job security. I have taught for PCC for nearly seven years and I went through rigorous review to receive my assignment rights. This needs to be taken into account as they consider multi-year contracts, or else it is simply asking me to start the process all over again.
  • [What matters to me is the] lack of transparency by my administrators about decisions for classes.
  • It seems to me that the administration should have ample evidence what with assessments and student evaluations who on the faculty has proved themselves competent and deserving of a multi-year contract. Their position makes no sense as it would be much more expensive to interview all those potential part timers than to use the people who already teach there and know the students. It appears a very insulting suggestion. Personally, I probably won’t even be eligible for a multi-year contract because I don’t teach enough, but in solidarity I still want them to happen.
  • I’ve been here fifteen years. My seniority should count. I can provide history and experience to my colleagues, and continuity for my students. I’ve grown with them and for them over the years. I don’t want to lose my job to newcomers who look good on paper. I’ve been in the trenches, and I know my students and what’s going on here, on my campus, in my department, in my city.
  • Does a multi-year contract protect me or retain my health insurance if a class does not fill or some other condition that drops me below the FTE?

Minoo shared many of these comments with the full bargaining team, who have crafted a counter-proposal. The next bargaining session is 9/2. It is open, so if you would like to attend, contact Michael C by Monday 9/1 at 8:30 AM at : michael.cannarella@pccffap.org

And, finally, there were a lot of comments like the following:

  • Thank you, thank you, thank you for everything you are always doing to help our PT faculty.

We say: thanks for the thanks!!

A personal note from Shirlee:
We all know that PT faculty are treated with an incredible amount of disrespect. Our work is often invisible, we are left out of major initiatives, and most of us can recite a long list of insulting or demeaning comments we have overheard or had delivered to our faces. Minoo and Corrinne not only have to deal with their own, personal bad treatment, but they also hear the tales of distress from many, many PT colleagues. This is appropriate, as they need to know what is happening around the district in order to adequately represent PT interests. Still, I am amazed at their ability to stay positive and focused on the achievable, but small ways to make it possible for PT faculty to be more effective, in the face of the mountain of horror stories of bad treatment. I think all PT faculty at PCC owe a huge debt to those who have bargained over the years. As bad as it can be here, it is even harder to be an effective teacher in a “PT” role in many other institutions. 

It was lovely for me to see how many colleagues took the time to express gratitude to Minoo and Corrinne on this survey.

How I Fell Through the Cracks

by Melisa Crosby

 

I started as part-timer at PCC fresh out of PSU  in the summer of 1990 after a wonderful spring term spent student teaching in the long-defunct Refugee ESL Program housed at the old Ross Island Center. I worked there for a number of years, gaining valuable experience working with students from a wide variety of backgrounds and learning everything I could  from my colleagues about how to be a better ESL teacher.

After taking a couple of  years off to have a baby and deal with family issues, I returned to PCC in 1996  to teach in the Multicultural Academic Program based at Southeast Center.  I absolutely loved working with the refugee and immigrant youth we served and became especially skilled at supporting the beginning level newcomer students as they transitioned to life in the US. We had a close community of teachers in that program and constantly worked to improve our ability to serve our students.  Populations changed over the years but we never wavered in our dedication to serving those kids.

In the time I worked as a part time instructor for MAP I was grateful to the faculty federation for all their hard work on our behalf. I saw my pay increase noticeably over the years.  Non-credit instructors became eligible for PERS in 2000 and in 2007, shortly after I was diagnosed with a chronic autoimmune disease, it was a huge relief to finally be eligible for health insurance through my employer.  My hours were steady and, thanks to the assignment rights system, I could make plans because I knew I could count on regular work.

Around 2009, at the height of the economic meltdown we (along with all programs serving similar populations) began experiencing a rapid decline in enrollment as fewer newcomers arrived in the US needing our services.  We attempted to adjust by combining levels and letting new teachers go but eventually we realized we were no longer able to provide our students with the best English education possible using the model that had worked so well over the years.

 A decision was made to send our 16-21 year old students to adult ESOL classes and cut out all but a few support classes for MAP students.  The idea was that our teachers would be hired by ESOL and our assignment rights honored and this is what happened for every other teacher from our program.  Unfortunately, in order for me to teach for ESOL, I needed to earn my master’s degree.  Because my husband had recently been laid off and I saw this as my best chance to support my family, I took out a huge loan and went to graduate school and worked through the program as quickly as I could,  earning excellent grades.  Despite the assurance I received about my assignment rights being honored, I found when I graduated that PCC ESOL departments were unwilling to hire me for anything other than temporary summer positions, citing too many instructors “ahead of me”.  While MAP (later renamed PCC Links) kept me on at a fraction of  my former hours to teach support classes, this was not enough income to feed my family and repay my school loan so I started teaching anywhere I could find work, at one point commuting over 300 miles a week just to barely scrape by.  I was earning far less than I earned as a 20+ year PCC part timer and received no benefits.  Luckily I still had a few hours of Links classes to maintain my health insurance and other benefits.

In the spring of 2015 I learned that my Links class would be canceled for the summer, dropping me below the necessary threshold for health insurance eligibility.  I contacted all the ESOL department chairs in the hopes that someone could offer me enough work to maintain my insurance but even those folks who took the time to respond assured me there was no work for me.  The union tried to intervene on my behalf with no success.  Then in June of this year, just a few weeks after completing my 25th year at PCC,  I learned that my Links manager decided to cancel my class altogether and, with that, I was no longer a union member and no longer a PCC part timer.   I now work for PCC solely as an hourly “trainer” with the International Education department.  I’m grateful that I still get to work with ESL students but I’d feel a lot better about things had I not taken a significant pay cut, been kicked out of the union, and lost my health benefits, tuition waivers for my kids, retirement, and even the slightest semblance of job security.

I’m a good teacher.  My students learn and they have a great time in my classes.  My colleagues have, to my knowledge, felt positive about working with me and have found me willing to jump in and work on projects.  I’ve never had a bad review in all these years.  But, thanks to our pay scale, I am an expensive employee and that is the best reason I can come up with for how I’ve been completely ignored by ESOL.  It is hurtful and humiliating after all the years I’ve worked for PCC to have no one step up on my behalf and ensure my continued employment.  I have no one to fight for me and I can only think that this is exactly what colleges and universities want as they increasingly rely on contingent labor. We need to have a system in place that values experienced teachers rather than simply tossing us aside when we become too expensive.  I don’t know how this can be accomplished, but I do know that no one should be left out in the cold  after 25 years of good work at PCC.

August Negotiations Update

August Negotiations Update

As described in the July update, our bargaining team was facing a proposal to table the top PT faculty bargaining issues — job security.

Background:

PCC has a large group of PT faculty who have been offered classes year after year, and who provide a critical mass of service to our students. Yet, unlike every other “regular” employee at PCC, instructors classified as “part time” have no guarantee of continued employment — regardless of how well we are doing our jobs.

On the basis of widespread input from PT faculty, our bargaining team proposed the creation of multi-year contracts for the approximately 500 adjunct faculty at the 1.5 FTE level (the minimum to be eligible for health insurance) over the last three years. This seemed to the negotiation team a straight-forward way to “normalize” the crucial service these faculty provide.

This seemed like a modest proposal, from our point of view, but it initially led to a bargaining impasse. Then, in response to the July negotiations update on this blog, our PT negotiating team members heard from lots of faculty. (Thank you!) A letter was sent from our federation Executive Council to faculty department chairs laying out the reasons for this request and asking for support. (The letter was drafted by a FT faculty supporter of adjunct colleagues — it is great to know we can count on our colleagues to support us.)

Contracts for PT Faculty
Perhaps in response to this pressure, the administration surprised us all by announcing that they were ready to consider multi-year contracts for PT faculty in the last bargaining session in July. However, they offered some significant changes from the proposal we made. Here is a table of contrasts:

Federation Proposal Administration Counter-Proposal
1)
eligibility
• Instructors eligible for multi-year contracts would be existing Part-Time PCC faculty • No guarantee that multi-year contracts go to existing PT faculty — use of an interview/ hiring process similar to current hiring of temporary FT
2)
addition or replacement?
• Multi-year contracts provide a form of job security, in addition to assignment rights • Assignment rights are phased out as multi-year contracts are phased in.
3)
seniority
• Some consideration of seniority in determining who is eligible for the new contracts • No weight to seniority
4)
how many? when? for how many years?
  • Multi-year contracts phased in over several years
  • Ultimately available to approximately 500 FT faculty who have been assigned classes, year after year (1.5 FTE)
  • Makes current status quo “official”
  • Helps PT faculty better serve students by reducing job uncertainty
• 100 2-year multi-year contracts, starting Fall 2016 (we are not clear if the 100 is all they are offering, or if that is just a start.)

Although the negotiating team (and observers) are glad to be talking about the top priority for PT instructors, we think there is a huge difference between what our members are demanding and the administration is currently offering.

We need your help. Please go to this short survey to let us know what you think about the administration counter-proposal.

SURVEY LINK for current “Part-time” PCC instructors:  https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1GTsY9a_GHFODqv1uXfMQP6Deg_VlgEl-YlW-GSN_-q8/viewform

SURVEY LINK for all others:  https://docs.google.com/forms/d/14G77IFxzxkKgvnq6X4NHyWrMatPCqA5bDeys9681ybg/viewform?usp=send_form 

If you have additional thoughts that don’t fit well in the survey format, you are welcome to contact our PT bargaining team members — Minoo (minoo.marashi@pccffap.org) and Corrinne (corrinne.crawford@pccfap.org)

Please let us what you think about the terms of this offer from the administration bargaining team?

PCCFFAP: Together we can make a difference.