After almost a year of bargaining, on Friday May 20th, just after 8pm, our PSUFA bargaining team and the PSU Administration finally concluded negotiations. We reached an agreement that we will be recommending to our members for ratification in the coming weeks.
Our new collective bargaining agreement will include:
- 1-year appointments after faculty have taught 8 credits or for 2 year, whichever comes first;
- 2-year appointments after faculty have taught 20 credits or for 3 years, whichever comes first plus received an evaluation;
- Standardized, faculty-friendly criteria and processes for evaluations (for faculty seeking multi-year contracts);
- Changes to our letter of hire and appointment processes in order to increase transparency about expected class size, resources, etc;
- Recurring orientations for part-time faculty;
- New language to protect faculty from harassment, bullying, and unsafe conditions;
- Pay for participation on committees or for doing curricular work (Chair approval needed) at approximately $25/per hour;
- Pay for independent study at a rate of either $50 per credit or $100, whichever is greater, (Chair approval needed);
- 2 annual university-wide awards specifically for Adjunct Faculty, 1 for scholarship and 1 for teaching;
- A $15,000 increase to our Professional Development fund (now totals $100,000 per year), plus any remaining funds will roll-over at the end of the fiscal year;
- A $50,000 increase to our Healthcare Fund (now totals $225,000 a year), plus any remaining funds will roll-over at the end of the fiscal year;
- Pay for faculty in the case of late appointments and cancelled classes — $50 per credit;
- Extension of the Employee Assistance Program to all part-time faculty;
- 4% increases to the minimum per-credit rate for instructional faculty and researchers for the next two years, raises effective Fall 2016 and Fall 2017;
- $8.92 increases to per-credit rates above the minimum, raises effective Fall 2016 and Fall 2017;
- Length-of-service increases to start in the Fall of 2017:
- Faculty who’ve taught for 3-5 years will receive a .25% increase
- 5-7 years of service – .50% increase
- 7-9 years of service – .75% increase
- 9+ years of service – 1.0% increase
This Agreement will be expire June 30th, 2020, with an economic re-opener so that we can re-negotiate wages and benefits in 2018.
More on Friday’s session:
Friday began with open discussion of process as we attempted to regroup and revisit economic options we’d discussed in our last session. We also had report backs from the Administration about processes for paying adjuncts for committee work and heard some unfortunate information about our Faculty Education Fund. The Admin team was firm about the supposed new reality that the Education fund couldn’t be increased except nominally because it functions with tuition remissions. We had previously discussed substantial increases to the fund and so this came as a bit of a blow to our team.
As the day progressed and we tried costing out different options. Our team members expressed frustration with the numbers the Admin’s team were proposing as viable options for wage increases. PSUFA team members started asking questions about how the small raises, reflected our supposedly shared interest in recognizing a marginalized faculty group.
Team members spoke about the importance of recognition through fair wages and described the gap in equity between part and full-time faculty’s minimum pay. The administration team listened, but also shared their different interpretations of equity. They were looking for our wages to be on par with comparator institutions. We argued that there is a national consensus about adjunct wages being systematically (and problematically) low, so why would it make sense to compare to other institutions? Our part-time faculty are diverse in terms of income level, but the majority make the minimum per-credit rate, many are on food stamps, many are struggling to make ends meet, many want teaching to be a career and it isn’t sustainable. Regardless, we should be getting equal pay for equal work. Adjuncts teach the same classes as non-tenure-track full-time faculty for hundreds of dollars less a credit.
After this heartfelt and serious expression from our team, the Admin asked to take a break. It was during this caucus that we decided to take a new direction. Our frustration was clear; we weren’t making much headway and the afternoon was upon us. We decided to create a proposal and move slightly away from the Affinity IBB process.
The rest of the day was spent exchanging and discussing proposals. It was clear that the Administration wanted us to agree to a long-term contract – locking in 5 years of small increases to our wages and benefits in exchange for what they saw was a relatively generous increase to our per-credit minimum rate up front. They also shared that the length-of-service increases that we’d been talking about for weeks, were not going to be feasible until about 2018 and they wanted them off the table. This was revealing–they had not done their homework and we were angry.
Our team and the PSUFA observers who were present felt strongly that LOS increases were important, and that a long contract like the Admin was proposing wouldn’t benefit us. We needed the ability to at least negotiate economics again in 2 years, especially if PSU’s revenue increased due to changes at the state level. We were still committed to closing the pay gap.
After spending the afternoon exchanging proposals, we decided we had to stand fast with our last proposal or forgo a longer-year contract all together, which both teams wanted. After a long caucus, the admin team came back, reviewed our last proposal and said simply: “we agree.”
The work continues! For now, we will be working to move the economic agreements into contract language, and you will be hearing from us soon about a member meeting and ratification party. Then two years of organizing! When we are back at the table in 2018, we want to have the power to build on all we started here, compose a dynamite bargaining team, strategize, and demand more!