AFT Adjunct/Contingent Faculty Caucus: 2015 Issues Statement

…as prepared by the members of the Caucus, and with special thanks to Margaret Hanzimanoulis. For more information, contact William Lipkin

The members of the AFT Adjunct/Contingent Faculty Caucus support the sentiments expressed by the Resolutions ratified at the July, 2014, AFT National Convention, insofar as they are aimed at addressing the working conditions of Part-time and other contingent faculty:

  • “Ending the Exploitation of and the Reliance on a Contingent Academic Labor System in Higher Education,”
  • “Clarification of the ‘Reasonable Assurance’ Clause in Federal Unemployment Compensation Law,”
  • “Expansion of the mandated data collected by the “Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) Regarding Part-time Faculty Positions,” and
  • “Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program Eligibility for Part-time Faculty.”

We find that these interventions signal a new willingness on the part of AFT to take seriously the rapidly eroding situation for Part-time Faculty and other contingent faculty in the United States. We understand the commitment expressed to be dependent on a long-term strategy that will ultimately insure that Part-time and other contingent faculty earn pay, receive benefits, and are afforded governance opportunities at the same rate and level as their Full-time, tenured brothers and sisters.

We are determined to help accelerate the transformation of the political and economic landscape that has so thwarted the legitimate aspirations of this historically underrepresented group, the Part-time faculty, as well as limited the contributions that short contract, non-tenured faculty have been able to make to their institutions and students. The Caucus is prepared to take a leadership role in devising and shaping more operationally-oriented responses to the issues identified by caucus members, below, in partnership with the existing AFT political and governing processes:

  • Equitable pay structures
  • More pathways to job security for adjunct and other contingent faculty, including, but not limited to, negotiated seniority and reappointment rights based on peer review
  • Inclusion in, payment for, and a required role in shared governance
  • More robust and reliable academic freedom protection
  • Protection of teaching loads
  • Equal access to employee benefits
  • Timely notification of teaching assignments
  • More contractually stipulated opportunities for career advancement
  • Paid professional development
  • Access to unemployment benefits in states where it is not presently available
  • In order to bring about these changes we are asking AFT to prioritize the following:
  • Lobbying for federal and state legislation important to adjunct and other contingent faculty in areas such as unemployment insurance, disability insurance, student loan forgiveness programs, equal pay for all categories of workers doing the same job, and employer responsibility for retirement contributions.
  • Asking the Department of Labor to investigate hiring and wage practices for contingents that violate the equal pay for equal work statutes.
  • Dedicating more resources to researching, analyzing, and developing strategies that might begin to address the enormous wage and benefit imbalances between the various employment status categories, and other issues of concern to Part-time, adjunct, and other contingent faculty.
  • Hiring more staff to research and provide support for Part-time, Adjunct and other contingent faculty issues.
  • Lobbying for more mandated data on the pay and benefits of PTF and for the disaggregation of pay data on the NTT and TT/T faculty groups at the state and federal level.
  • Launching a nationwide drive to move those currently paying agency fees into full union membership with full voting rights in local, state, and national levels of governance.
  • Providing locals with funding and training to build Part-time and Adjunct membership.
  • Building stronger working relationships with other unions and organizations who represent Part-time faculty, or are concerned with the working conditions of marginalized academics, such as AAUP, CPFA, FACCC, COCAL, NFM, MLA, ASA, Campaign for Equity, Campaign for the Future of HIgher Education, and other major unions and faculty associations.
  • Building stronger alliances between K-12 and Higher Ed groups within AFT.
  • Collecting, analyzing and publicizing comprehensive data on the number of adjunct/contingent faculty teaching, their compensation rates, the benefits for which they are eligible, and their levels of institutional integration.
  • Examining dues systems and “per cap” thresholds for fairness to Part-time, Adjunct, and other contingent faculty members and agency fee payers.
    Improved Part-time, Adjunct, and contingent faculty representation on the Higher ED PPC and the Executive Council.
  • Providing more programming at the Higher Ed Conference and the National Convention relating to Adjunct and other contingent faculty issues.
  • Organizing and training for leadership positions Adjunct, Part-time, and other contingent faculty.
  • Calling for a national forum on Part-time, Adjunct, and other contingent faculty issues in DC.

About @NatM4Equity

The National Mobilization for Equity is a coalition of organizations committed to alleviating the present staffing crisis in higher education: three-quarters of the teaching jobs in American colleges are held by underpaid, precarious and poorly-supported contingent faculty. Our long-term goal is to end contingency as the norm. The current untenable situation not only adversely affects all faculty members, both contingent and tenure-track, it also negatively impacts our profession, our students and the quality of their education.

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