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 : email@example.com
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.