Negotiating Rank and Titles for Adjunct Faculty and Researchers

This coming week we will be back at the table to wrap-up our discussions about academic rank and title. We have been pushing for a simplified process by which part-time faculty and researchers could hold professorial titles if they have a terminal degree in their field and advance in their academic rank from Instructor to Senior Instructor, Research Assistant to Senior Research Assistant and so on, if they do not.

Titles may be a minor issue for some, but for others stagnating in rank (as well as pay) feels like a symptom of a more systemic lack of recognition and marginalization of adjunct faculty and researchers at our University. This discussion is complicated by the potentially confusing ways that promotion and tenure guidelines and rank for the full-time faculty intersect with our adjunct titles and ranks. That said, after much clarification we feel optimistic about wrapping up the issue very soon.

Beyond this week, we are looking forward to opening articles of our contract related to economics, working on a system of longevity increases for part-time faculty, options for retirement and healthcare, as well as increases to our benefits funds. After that we plan to discuss orientation, on-boarding practices, and other amenities that could offer more support for new and returning faculty.

At this crucial moment in negotiations, we need your input and support. Come out and give us your feedback and hear from your bargaining team. Save-the-Date February 2nd 4-6pm! More details to follow.

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PSUFA Bargaining in the New Year

As this winter term begins, our contract negotiations continue with the PSU administration. We are looking forward to discussing promotion and academic rank this month as well as move on to tackle compensation and benefits—two issues of high priority for all of us part-timers.

Our team worked hard this fall, negotiating towards a tentative agreement on another important issue: job security. By the beginning of winter break, we arrived at a tentative agreement with the administration that will hopefully temper the profound sense of precarity many of our members have lived with for years. Here are some highlights:

  • After teaching an initial 8 credits or for 2 years (whichever occurs first), adjunct faculty will receive all future appointments on a 1-(academic)-year basis, with teaching assignments based on the average annual course load previously taught.
  • Once faculty members have taught a total of 20 credits or for 3 years (whichever occurs first), they will be offered an evaluation by their department. Upon successful completion of the evaluation, faculty will receive all future appointments on a 2-year basis. These appointments will include an assignment of two courses or the average annual course load previously taught, whichever is greater.
  • Criteria and procedure for evaluations of adjunct faculty have been heavily revised, simplified and standardized for clarity and to give faculty members a maximum amount of choice and protection. Classroom observations as a part of evaluations are elective.
  • If faculty members choose to not have an evaluation, there will be no repercussions. They will continue to be employed on a 1-year basis and offered another chance at an evaluation and 2-year appointments in the future.
  • In the event of last-minute appointments or cancelled classes adjunct faculty will be given compensation. This will hopefully give the departments some incentive to appoint early.
  • Part-time instructional faculty will be included in and can be compensated for the committee work they do at the departmental or university level.
  • Part-time faculty will be given notice of the University’s intent to reappoint or not as soon as possible, or at least one term prior to the end of their current appointment.

We were heartened that the administration took our interests in job stability, transparency, recognition, and respect into account throughout the process. In relation to the assignment rights process in our previous contract, we’re making massive gains.

In addition to outlining the new job security schema and changes to the appointment and re-appointment process, we spent many hours this fall re-writing large portions of the contract, transforming confusing and adversarial legal-ese into more plain and respectful language. We hope that the new contract can model for the University community a renewed way of addressing its adjunct faculty—not as disposable bottom-teir faculty members, but as the valuable educators and professionals that we are.