Another Must-Read

There is a comprehensive account of the troubles caused by reliance on academic contingent labor, this time from The Atlantic.

Go to:
http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/09/higher-education-college-adjunct-professor-salary/404461/

Here is short excerpt, appealing to evidence-based educational practice, which supports our negotiating goals of better job security and inclusion in institutional initiatives for  the majority teachers:

So the real question is whether the shift to adjunct teaching has helped or hurt education outcomes. That turns out to be a hard question to answer definitively, because comprehensive data on student outcomes is hard to come by[…]

A study of community-college students found that those who had more exposure to part-time teachers were less likely to transfer to four-year universities. Another detailed study of six public universities within one state found that at four of those schools, freshmen who had more time with part-time faculty were substantially less likely to return sophomore year. Interestingly, however, at the other two universities in that state, freshmen with higher exposure to part-time teachers were slightly more likely to persist to sophomore year. The difference, the researchers discovered, is that these two schools gave their part-time instructors more support, including them, for instance, in new-faculty orientation programs .

Part-time PCC Instructors: Have you taken the survey on multi-year contracts?

Your federation negotiating team is asking part time instructors to give guidance as they work to craft a response to the latest counter proposal from the administration on multi-year contracts. The request for guidance from members comes in the form of a short survey which was sent out by email during in-service week. (If you did
not receive a link to the survey, please email: minoo.marashi@pccffap.org.)

The idea of a new form of job security for PT instructors has generated lots of conversation. Below please find a table of pros and cons that have emerged from those conversations, organized around the most controversial aspects of the offer. This is offered to help think through the complex issues and formulate your own response. (t is a summary only, and not a complete guide!)

Background: The administration counter-proposal is a far distance from the original vision put on the table. That original proposal was formulated by our negotiating team after extensive campus conversations with part time faculty in winter 2015. (Thank you to everyone who gave of your time to come to one of those meetings!)

But while this latest offer from the administration is far from our original federation plan, it has come closer than the earlier responses from the administration. It is close enough to make it HARD to tell exactly what is best to do. Different PT faculty looking it over have come to different conclusions about it. Is this close enough to meeting our member demands, or is it still too far from what we proposed?

Please remember that whatever our bargaining team decides, the ultimate power is in the hands of our membership. We need to vote to ratify (or to reject) any tentative agreement. But our bargainers need to find (if possible) the general trend in member thinking at this point, to decide what response to make as the negotiations wind down.

Also important: only active members will be able to vote on the contract. (If you are not sure if you are a member OR pay fair-share dues only, please dash off an email to: shirlee.geiger@pccffap.org. I will get right back to you about how your status is listed in PCC’s database.)

ISSUE ONE: How many?

Original Federation Proposal Federation Rationale Latest Administration Counter-proposal
  • 500 multi-year contracts
  • each contract for 3 years
  • guaranteeing annual 1.5 FTE
  • This guarantees health insurance coverage
  • Approximately 500 PT faculty have been assigned at least 1.5 FTE over the past 3 years
  • OUT OF approximately 1100 total PT instructors
  • Making them eligible for health insurance
  • 300 mult-year contracts
  • Each for 3 years
  • A pilot program

Pros:

  • Additional job security for 300 teachers is better than nothing…
  • This is significant movement from the first Administration response (a refusal to discuss it!!)

Cons:

  • 300 is not enough, given the number of PT faculty…
  • As a pilot, what guarantees do we have for PT faculty if we find (disastrous) unexpected consequences? There are no protections written in as this experiment unfolds.

ISSUE TWO: who is eligible to apply?

Original Federation Proposal Federation Rationale Latest Administration Counter-proposal
Contracts open to:

  • PT instructors
  • based on seniority
  • as determined by years teaching or assignment rights or….
Research is clear that instructors  are more effective when:

  • familiar with their college
  • known by their colleagues
  • experienced teaching to a particular student population
  • Only existing PT faculty eligible
  • After one year of  PCC employment
  • This assumes at least one evaluation

Pros:

  • This proposal does a bit to recognize and reward the added value of experience and seniority at the outset
  • Over time, those who initially get the contracts (if not already senior) will develop the experience and relationships that matter to student success

Cons:

  • Long-time instructors are more expensive than new faculty, so departments may have an incentive to hire newer faculty; lack of transparency in hiring decisions makes this risky business…..
  • The hiring process will be like that for temporary Full Time (article 3.64 of the contract) — is that transparent enough, or will administrators use this process to hire friends and favorites?

ISSUE THREE: In addition to or instead of assignment rights?

Original Federation Proposal Federation Rationale Latest Administration Counter-proposal
  • Maintain current assignment rights (ARs)
  • ARs guarantee one class per term
  • About 400 to 450 faculty have been approved for ARs
  • Assignment rights are less valuable—especially in times of declining enrollment.
  • Assignment rights are not sustainable — the enrollment won’t guarantee everyone one class in many departments
  • Assignment rights predate negotiated health insurance (and don’t guarantee access to it)
  • Assignment rights ended for depts with multi-year contracts
  • They remain in departments with no MYCs
  • Proposed: No loss of classes for performance issues (without a performance improvement plan)

Pros:

  • Since Assignment Rights offer a small and diminishing form of job security, it makes sense to “trade them away” for a system with more security
  • It makes sense to tie job security to health insurance benefits

Cons:

  • There is no guarantee that the instructors with assignment rights will be the ones with multi-year contracts
  • Given the lack of transparency in hiring and scheduling, why give away more discretion to hire and fire in the short term — even if it might result in more job security (for some) in the long term?

WILL MULTI-YEAR CONTRACTS INCREASE THE JOB INSECURITY OF THOSE PART-TIMERS WHO DON’T GET THEM?

Part of what is alarming is that no one can predict what exactly will happen in the roll out of a new program. However, the federation’s labor relations specialist has the run the numbers, and his opinion is that (apart from the lost sections due to decreased enrollment), new multi-year contracts will not likely cause additional displacement. The average teaching load of the approximately 500 PT teachers eligible for insurance has been over 2.20 fte — much higher than the guarantee of 1.5 annually for the new contracts. But having said that, this will play out differently in different departments and SACs. Have questions? Call or email Michael C in our federation office. (michael.cannarella@pccffap.org or 971-722-4178)

Other considerations:

  • If a pilot for multi-year contracts are included in the contract this year, and it is ratified by the membership, the federation negotiating team intends to work to increase the number offered over time. Of course, there are no guarantees a proposal to increase the number would be accepted, and no way to guarantee that seniority would be considered in awarding those contracts.
  • The federation has also proposed additional funding for professional development, with expanded eligibility for PT faculty, and more money to compensate PTers for service to the college not directly tied to classroom instruction — such as Program Review, SAC assessment projects, and college committee work.  If combined with a multi-year contract, this could make it possible for some “freeway fliers” to stay on a PCC campus, increasing their availability to students and allowing them to build professional relations with colleagues.
  • A separate bargaining item is a number of new FT positions to be added. Historically at PCC, FT positions are filled more often than not by PT instructors, so this is a separate route to job security for current PTers.

September Negotiations Update

At the last scheduled meeting of the full administration and federation bargaining teams, the major focus was on the Multi-Year Contracts for Part time faculty.

The most recent Administration Counter-Proposal:

  • 100 contract positions per year for each of the next three years
  • Total 300 contracted positions
  • 3 year term of contract, with expectation they would be renewed (a change from the earlier position that they would be renewable at the discretion of the Dean)
  • Elimination of assignment rights in those departments with multi-year contracts only — other departments continue to recognize Assignment Rights within restrictions created by declining enrollment.
  • Guarantee of 1.5 FTE to assure eligibility for health insurance.
  • All current PT faculty are eligible to apply after one year, and one complete assessment.

Federation counter to this latest administration counter-proposal:

  • 150 contract positions offered per year for each of  the next three years (total 450 contracted positions).
  • 3 year term of contract, automatically renewable absent any performance issues and the opportunity for improvement.
  • Maintain assignment rights as they currently exist in depts without multi-year contracts; in depts with the new contracts, any instructor at PCC longer than 3 years would be provided a performance improvement plan prior to not being scheduled to teach a class due to performance issues.
  • Guarantee of 1.5 FTE to assure eligibility for health insurance.
  • New faculty would be eligible after completing three years of assessments OR current faculty who have been teaching over three years OR current faculty who have assignment rights.

The conversation continues, but it seems unlikely the two sides can get much closer….. Members of the federation team are still talking about what makes sense as a next step.

Here are some of the points considered at the close of the negotiations meeting on 9/2 by our Federation negotiating team, along with the Federation members who have observed the meetings:

  1. It seems clear that a system with multi-year contracts is better than a system with assignment rights only. However, the administration refusal to add any eligibility criteria regarding seniority means that current long-time PCC PT instructors could be displaced — both because the administration insists on suspending assignment rights immediately in those departments with multi-year contracts AND because the multi-year contracts could go to brand new teachers who have been at PCC only one year.  A major piece of thinking behind the original proposal was that students benefit from faculty members being part of an educational community (knowing what resources are available, who their colleagues are, how to maneuver in the system to get student needs met.) Over time, people with the new contracts will gain that kind of background knowledge, but there is no contractual guarantee that the people who step in to the new positions will already have it.
  2. Administration bargainers appeal over and over to their goal of making sure the best teacher is assigned to each class offered at PCC. It is why they need flexibility, and consistently push away contract language that limits hiring and scheduling discretion of Dept Chairs and Division Deans. Specifically, the need for flexibility is the reason given by the administration negotiation team for rejecting the Federation proposal to restrict the eligibility for multi-year contracts to long-time PCC faculty. Shouldn’t we all be able to safely assume that long-time PCC part-time faculty are highly skilled, competent teachers — especially those who have been through the additional evaluations for assignment rights? No! say the administration bargainers. Just because someone has been here a long time, they said, does NOT mean they are effective instructors.This implies that current PCC hiring and scheduling practices leave ineffective teachers in classrooms year upon year. Hardly what one would expect from an institution that values “the best teacher in each classroom.” (One writer on contingent faculty issues says we should substitute the term “whimsibility” for “flexibility” when used by administrators. Instead of making sure the best teacher is in each classroom, the lack of transparency along with the enormous hiring and scheduling discretion around adjuncts means there is maximal distrust and suspicion in the majority faculty in Higher Ed today.)

It may be that Administration bargainers will accept the aspects of the original proposal that they have so far resisted – honoring assignment rights while we pilot a multi-year contract plan (or at least building in some employment guarantees for those assignment right instructors in departments with multi-year contracts) AND restricting those new contracts in some way via prior PCC service, making sure they go to people with the institutional familiarity that should be recognized and rewarded. At this point, there are no signals they are headed that way. This leaves our bargaining team trying to decide what to do……

Going into a new term without a contract  builds pressure all around. We will keep you posted.

Help with an important new study on adjunct faculty and professional development

Adjunct faculty are the majority of teachers in higher education now. With the new emphasis on free community college, along with talk of outcomes-based funding from the state, the question must be asked:

Are U.S. colleges and universities ready for these challenges?

You can help answer that question by participating in a new survey on adjunct professional development opportunities. Follow this link for an article giving some background, along with a link to the survey. (The survey is directed toward those in charge of faculty development, but you can take it from your point of view, as an adjunct instructor.)

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2015/08/27/non-tenure-track-faculty-members-say-they-want-more-professional-development?utm_source=Inside+Higher+Ed&utm_campaign=d18648f5d8-DNU20150827&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_1fcbc04421-d18648f5d8-197583321