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.
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|
|• 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|
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.|
|• Some consideration of seniority in determining who is eligible for the new contracts||• No weight to seniority|
how many? when? for how many years?
||• 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Corrinne (email@example.com)
Please let us what you think about the terms of this offer from the administration bargaining team?
PCCFFAP: Together we can make a difference.
Performance-based funding (also called outcomes-based funding) is used by 26 states, according to a new piece put out by PEW charitable trusts, 7/28 2015. Tennessee has gone to 100% outcomes-based state funding for public colleges and universities. Oregon has flirted with partial funding based on indicators like degree completion, through the HECC (Higher Education Coordinating Commission)
I have heard many colleagues condemn this move, for many interesting reasons. Prominent among them is the idea that it is a further way in which higher education is becoming “corporate” or adopting an inappropriate and badly fitting business model. But there is a way in which this trend could help improve the poor (indeed shameful) treatment of contingent faculty.
In a business, success can be tracked by the bottom line of profit. When profit is decreased through bad treatment of employees, there is a feedback loop…profit goes down. Progressive employment practices — including professional development, credible and meaningful performance reviews, transparent hiring and promotion process, family leave and flex time — all make sense NOT as issues of justice in a for-profit business, but because they increase employee satisfaction which results in higher productivity. (Which then results in more profit.)
Colleges and universities provide services to students. Through these benefits to individual students, we bring a host of benefits to our broader community. But all PCC services depend on informed and committed employees — faculty, APs, staff and administrators. Not surprisingly, treating staff well makes a difference from the standpoint of student outcomes. Students do better, for example, when they have teachers who are supported, respected, and included in the organizational life of the educational community. The slogan, in this case, has outcomes-based evidence in its favor: faculty work conditions are student learning conditions. It is not just the teachers who suffer when instructors don’t know what (if anything!) they will be teaching from term to term (because they have no job security), have no idea who to call in an emergency in the evening during a night class (because they never got that basic orientation), do not know who the advisers and councilors are, or who might be teaching the next class in the sequence (because they are too busy driving from one college to the next to form relationships with colleagues….) etc etc etc. A move to tracking OUTCOMES of shabby treatment of instructors in the lives of students could help make visible all the “hidden costs” of the cheap contingent labor.
Should pccffap resist or embrace a funding model in Oregon that takes at least partial count of outcomes like student success? I am among the instructors here at PCC who can’t wait for our administration to start counting the “hits” to the bottom line of student well-being of the bad treatment of loyal, hard-working and dedicated adjuncts.
respectfully submitted by Shirlee G
The two members for the negotiations team for “part-time” faculty are Minoo M and Corrinne C. Here is their report:
This is an update on what has happened in the conversations we’ve been a part of: meetings with the Federation bargaining team, the joint negotiations with the administration bargaining team, and the subcommittee on part-time faculty and workload issues. There have been additional conversations between Ed, our lead negotiator, and the lead negotiator for the administration team.
We have had much discussion of the job security issues faced by part-time faculty and of the proposal we presented: giving a significant portion of part-time faculty a multi-year contract that would guarantee a minimum 1.5 FTE each year, enough to qualify for health insurance benefits. At this point, our proposal does not have support from the administration.
There is currently a proposal on the table to send the multi-year contract idea to a committee to continue discussing it and to consider it again in a reopener in two years. This means that we would not achieve this goal in this year’s contract.
Our position (coming from the Vice Presidents who represent part-time faculty on the Federation Executive Council) is that
- The current Assignment Rights system is valuable. We will continue to work toward an improved system that provides more job security for our members.
- We have given the administration specific proposals to address their concerns about flexibility in administering the multi-year contracts.
- We need to make progress on other proposals to increase job security for our members, such as a substantial payment for cancelled classes.
The concerns we have heard from the administration team that make them reluctant to accept the multi-year contract idea are that
- It would hamper flexibility in dealing with declining enrollment.
- It creates a bigger and more complex workload for deans and faculty department chairs, who would have to assess the current part-time faculty members (through some as-yet-to-be-determined process) to determine who would get these contracts, and that it would be more difficult for chairs to have to make these multi-year assignments.
- They don’t know what the process would be to determine who gets these contracts.
- They don’t know what to do about our current system of assignment rights and that it would be difficult to administer two different systems: multi-year contracts for some and assignment rights for those who don’t get the multi-year contracts.
- This would create anxiety and morale problems among faculty and would disrupt relationships by creating “winners” and “losers,” since not everyone would have a multi-year contract.
- Finally, it’s important to note that Ed has reported resistance from some department chairs (who are also members of our union) to this proposal.
This is where we need your support. We need to show the administration that we have many members who want more job security, not just for our benefit as employees, but also because it would allow us to better serve our students. Watch for emails from the Federation and from your campus coordinator regarding future events, such as attending bargaining sessions, board meetings, and rallies to show our solidarity. Talk to your part-time colleagues, and be sure they have signed a Federation membership form so they can receive our email updates and vote on the contract. If you want increased job security, you will need to step up, give some of your time and energy, and help us create the necessary pressure to enact changes that will benefit faculty, students, and the college as a community. Remember that the union isn’t a separate entity–it’s you and your colleagues, working together.
If you have any questions or comments about this information, please contact one of us, your two part-time faculty representatives on the Federation bargaining team.
Corrinne Crawford, firstname.lastname@example.org
Minoo Marashi, email@example.com
Here is a wonderful piece from an adjunct blog I recently found. I am pasting in the beginning of the manifesto, but invite you to go read the rest, and explore the archives!
The crisis of identity for adjunct faculty takes different forms, at different times, in different places, but is an undercurrent that flows through their lives. Adjunct faculty, a de facto underclass, carry the institution of higher education on their backs for just above poverty wages. Some [of us] are simply so busy maintaining a professional practice, and trying to make ends meet, under oppressive conditions, [we] hardly have time, between campuses, to consider [our] dismal fate. Rationalization is the dominant coping mechanism.
Organizing For Action, President Obama’s nonprofit, recently began outreach to generate support for new rules on pay for overtime. This (of course) is great BUT won’t help any of the term-by-term contingent workers in the academic labor force. You can add comments describing YOUR work reality, by clicking on the link below. (See an example below that!)
Last week, President Obama moved to update our nation’s overtime rules —
a step that will extend overtime eligibility to nearly five million workers
and help ensure that their paychecks reflect the hard work they are already
*OFA is collecting comments on the path forward to fixing overtime
protections. Add your voice today.
From: David Milroy
Date: Tue, Jul 7, 2015 at 4:01 PM
Subject: Re: [adj-l] Add your voice to the fight to improve overtime rules
Dear Mr President..
Millions of my contingent faculty colleagues and I are totally in favor of
fair employment and pay regulations. However for those of us who are
contingent faculty in higher education..(we are the VAST majority!!)
“over-time” means that FT faculty who are already generously paid for a
full 40-hour week..have the option of adding on 2-3-4-5-6 extra classes to
their regular approved teaching load of 15-units per week.
These are classes which would normally go to under-paid contingent faculty
who live month to month on the low pay we receive for our excellent
service. Students are short-changed when they get a FTer who “phones-it-in”
to hundreds of students per semester just to build their income up to $120K
to $200K+ per year..while contingent faculty try to survive on $10-$20K for
teaching a full load on several campuses.
Fairness needs to be fair to ALL!!!
Thank you Mr. President.
Part-time French Faculty
San Diego, CA
by Cody Luff
I am sitting on an academic time bomb. One that has been ticking since I accepted a temporary position as a full-time faculty member at the Sylvania campus. I have been an adjunct for six years, rolling up and down the I-5 corridor with three bags in my backseat. One for my morning classes at PCC, one for my afternoon classes at Chemeketa, and one for night class at a different PCC campus. Both lunch and student meetings were frequently conducted on the hood of my battered Honda Accord and I had found several coffee shops that had tables big enough to house my stack of grading, lesson plans, and the occasional flurry of design projects waiting for review. I had achieved a low-grade balancing act that paid the bills and kept me employed in the profession that I love. Unfortunately, enrollment numbers wavered and my balancing act fell apart. Instead of six classes stitched together between various schools and campuses, I dropped to four, and finally to two. A temporary position opened at Sylvania and I applied for it and was accepted in short order. I was now a temporary-full-time-daily-rate-faculty member and I immediately became aware of differences between the adjunct experience and that of a full-time faculty member. No longer did I conduct my student meetings in a parking lot or grade in my living room at 4 in the morning. I was assigned four classes and found that in my 35-hour contract that I had time to actually speak to my students for longer than a few minutes before a long commute. I discovered that I could go home at night, having graded that week’s ration of papers in my office, and actually have dinner with my family. Not only did I feel that I could impact my students’ education on a greater level, but I felt that I had time to enjoy that newfound ability. I was on campus when they were, student meetings could stretch beyond the boundaries of my commuting time, and I could actually chat with my colleagues about teaching ideas and seek advice the very moment I might need it. The game was sizably different.
But even though the cup had been placed to my lips, I knew it wouldn’t last. My position was temporary, I did not have assignment rights, and when my time at Sylvania was at an end, I would enter the adjunct pool at the bottom of the bottom of the pile. The likelihood of getting even one class per school is very poor. I realized that by taking this temporary position, I may have inadvertently started the swansong of my career. I have been tremendously lucky in the fact that my position has been extended for a year, I have twelve months to pack my CV with as much committee work as I can, twelve months to scour the schools along the I-5 corridor for open positions and to feed the adjunct pools my information. This position has been a life saver but it has definitely highlighted the dangerously precarious nature of working as an adjunct. So many of us would like nothing more than to secure a full-time position at PCC, temporary or otherwise, and yet the act of taking that temporary position has a much greater impact on future employment than we may have initially thought. By this time next year I will be scrambling to find open classes, coming employment announcements in hopes of stitching together temporary assignments, community education classes, and the occasional odd-hour section of reading or writing to find my balance once again.
Is there a better way? I don’t know, not for sure. I do know that things will change and, in fact, are changing, but I hope that they change quickly enough to help adjuncts in my position, or any position, before we lose our balance altogether and find we must leave the profession we love in search of income security. With the national press to focus on assessment and success of our students, it seems like a strange thing to lose so many great professors because our schools are unable to focus on job security for the majority of their instructors.
by Chris Brooks
I earned my PhD in history in 2010. During graduate school my cohort maintained a sense of gallows humor about our job prospects; the already abysmal statistics about tenure track (TT) placements grew even worse as the financial crisis took hold, and the fact that we at an excellent university that was nevertheless considered “second tier” in our field didn’t bode well for any of us. The reality turned out to be even worse; I played “academic roulette,” applying to TT jobs during a hiring year in which there were a grand total of seven positions available in my field in the entire United States. Despairing of my chances, and without even part-time positions available where I was, I moved back to Portland (where I had lived before leaving for grad school.)
I was fortunate enough to have a backup skillset: I had spent several years in IT working for software companies and call centers. Even as I applied to the part-time job pools at PCC, Mt. Hood, Clark, and PSU, I was also submitting resumes to return to the generally thankless life as a systems admin. Thanks to the influence of a former co-worker from several years earlier, I landed a position in tech (albeit as a “1099” temp – no benefits, security, or tax withholdings included.) Simultaneously, I secured a part time teaching position at PCC teaching one class per term. I told myself at the time that I would work at both until one of them offered me a full-time job, not knowing if either ever would.
My time on PCC’s campus was limited to prep time before classes, since I had to be at my other job as often as possible for the sake of providing for my family. I was met at PCC with a congenial, helpful, and friendly group of colleagues but next to no practical guidance; I wasn’t even aware that fall term was eleven weeks long until week eight. I had no idea what a “SAC” was.
After teaching for two terms, and being unable to secure a spot teaching in the summer, I was offered a full-time job at the software company at which I worked. Despite having spent six years in grad school, living in Paris to do my dissertation research, presenting at conferences, and innumerable hours teaching, I made good on my promise to myself and accepted the job in tech. I anticipated that the last term I would ever teach would be fall of 2011 (I was already committed to teaching one class), even as I concentrated on mastering and managing a very challenging technical infrastructure of servers and networks.
Miraculously, a full time position opened in my department at PCC the very term I thought would be my last. As the interview process wore on – four stages! Essays! Presentations, chats, interviews! A process that stretches on for half of a year! – I called in sick to work to come to campus for interviews, stayed up late writing essays, and did my best to make sure the network didn’t implode at my “real” job simultaneously. In the end, somehow, I got the job at PCC. I’ve never lost the sense of bewilderment I felt when getting the call from my dean.
My take-away from the last several years of my life is that getting a FT position in academia is much more like aspiring to make a living as an artist, a musician, or an athlete than as pursuing a conventional career path in which training and experience result in a job. There is nothing just, normal, or acceptable about that fact, and from my perspective one of the best ways institutions might start to address it might be to create pathways leading from PT to FT status.
One other note: I remain in awe of my PT colleagues who contribute so much not just to teaching, but to college service, usually without any compensation. When I was PT I took it for granted that I had no incentive to participate outside of the classroom, and as it happened I couldn’t have participated even if I’d wanted to (i.e. when I wasn’t here I was in a server room.) The spirit of dedication that motivates them speaks volumes to the need for improved conditions and prospects aimed at PT faculty.
Meet the 76%!
We asked PCC job-insecure faculty to answer three questions for adjunct
awareness week.. Here are their answers.
What do love about teaching at PCC?
As someone who was born and raised in Portland, I know how important PCC is to our community. I love that we serve a diverse group of students. And I love working with my talented and dedicated colleagues.
What are some obstacles to your effectiveness as an instructor?
How do you balance your PCC life with the rest of your life?
What do love about teaching at PCC?
The students! They are fully engaged, wonderful to know. In fact, I often tell them that I know the future of our state and the world will be better because of their dedication to learning and a sincere desire to change the world.
What are some obstacles to your effectiveness as an instructor?
Time to add current resources! Being a PT faculty member means I need other part-time work. In recent terms, with low enrollment, I struggle to make ends meet financially. This is far and away the work I love most.
For seven years, I’ve had the opportunity to teach online, first with Blackboard, and now via D2L. The course I teach is SOC 232, Death & Dying: Cultures and Issues. It is superbly suited for the online format, allowing students to have a little distance as they do their own work about taboo topic in American culture. No one can help another person deal with death, so they can help others. And they do it! Their Final Project is an essay about their personal experience with death. I am honored to read (and cry) through each one.
How do you balance your PCC life with the rest of your life?
Last year I worked for 15 months as an in-home caregiver for a remarkable and very interesting couple. The husband had worked for the railroad his entire career, and loved talking about railroad history. His wife worked her entire career, after moving from Minnesota for a job with the start of the Fred Meyer stores, ending her career as Mr. Fred Meyer’s personal secretary. I volunteer with Elders In Action, donate platelets regularly with the Red Cross, and I’m just about to become a tutor with Tutor Doctor, utilizing my linguistic skills and many years teaching phonics.
What do you love about teaching at PCC?
It took me a long time to get to the point that I thought I was doing a really good job of managing day-to-day operations and disasters and now I want to share what I have learned with others.
I love it when I get feedback from former students that are having success using something they learned from me.
also do a little consulting work. For fun we have stepped up our
attendance at live jazz and blues performances.
A new perspective on an old issue: