Thank you to all the observers who came out to support our affinity bargaining day and to those who have sent good wishes. We felt supported by the presence of the members and allies who came out on the 6th. We had a long day, our session started at 9am and went until 10pm. Unfortunately, we didn’t reach agreement on wages and benefits, but we feel hopeful that we laid some important groundwork. The administration’s team seemed to understand how important increases to our funds for professional development and healthcare are. We also came to possible agreements on a number of smaller issues.
As the day progressed, our team felt they had to battle to stay in the organic, interest-focused process that affinity bargaining is known for. About halfway through the day the administration’s team took a long caucus to come up with a full proposal that they then presented. This changed the mood of the day considerably. While there were certainly aspects of the proposal that were positive, such as wage rates for independent study courses, access to the Employee Assistance Program, and roll-overs in our benefits funds (so that any unspent money would accrue in the accounts rather than be returned to the University at the end of the fiscal year), it became clear that there was a substantial discrepancy between our parties in terms of wage increases.
While we felt heard in our desire to address pay disparity amongst part-time faculty, we still have some work to do to impress upon the administration how necessary substantial raises are, especially for the majority of faculty who make the minimum per credit rate. It was frustrating to end without a settlement, especially when our team has been at this for so long, but we plan to keep pushing. We’d rather spend another long day and night at the table then settle for way less than what we think part-time faculty deserve.
The administration’s team has stated over and over that they have a limited amount of money to work with: fiscal year 2015’s budget plus 3%. We want to do more than negotiate about how that money is allocated, but to negotiate about how adjunct faculty and instruction overall are prioritized at PSU.
May 20th will be another full day of negotiation. Stay tuned for more details.