AFT Adopts Standards For P/T Faculty

by Conrad de Aenlle

A highlight of the 2002 AFT convention was adoption of “The Standards of Good Practice in the Employment of Part-time/ Adjunct Faculty: A Blueprint for Raising Standards and Ensuring Financial and Professional Equity.”

The report documents the increasing exploitation of part-time and adjunct faculty. Part-timers now teach over 50 percent of courses in community colleges and comprise 43 percent of the entire professoriate. As the number of adjuncts has increased, the number of tenured faculty has dropped.

“The overuse and abuse of adjuncts has changed higher education–and unions such as ours,” said AFT vice president William Scheuerman, president of the United University Professions/AFT, in voicing his support for the passage of the resolution on the standards. “The institutions where our full- and part-time members teach will have to change.”

The report was written by the AFT higher education program and policy council. Last year, the council put together a task force to draw up standards that unions could use when representing part-timers before college administrators, as well as state and national legislators. The task force, chaired by Lou Stollar, president of the United College Employees of the Fashion Institute of Technology/ AFT, appointed an advisory group of part-time and adjunct faculty leaders to help frame the issues and write the report.

The standards are divided into four sections: compensation, employment, professional responsibility and support, and the role part-timers play in their unions. The report calls for equitable pay scales, hiring and evaluation procedures similar to those used for full-time faculty, a seniority system, pay for office hours and for committee work.

Concerns over violation of the basic principles of equity and fairness in the use of part-timers “have been around for years,” notes David Boetcher, president of the Madison Area Technical College Part-Time Teachers Union, in Wisconsin. “The depth with which they’re treated here, though, will help people use it in negotiations” and in other practical forums, says Boetcher, who served on the AFT advisory committee. At the prompting of AFT unions in California and Washington state legislators have looked into issues surrounding pay equity and pay for office hours.

Below are the report’s standards for treatment of adjuncts within their unions. To download a complete copy of the report, go to
Ensuring full rights for part-timers/adjuncts
within their unions

1. National unions seeking to organize part-time adjunct faculty members should be committed to sustain a vigorous organizing campaign at the campus and to make a priority of part-time/adjunct organizing nationally.

2. Where full-time and part-time/adjunct faculty members are in the same union on campus, the part-time/adjunct faculty must have full voting rights on all union matters, including the election of officers and the ratification of contracts.

3. Where full-time and part-time/adjunct faculty members are in the same union on campus, part-time members should be actively encouraged to participate in all union affairs.

4. Where full-time and part-time/adjunct faculty members are in the same union on campus, the part-time/adjunct faculty have a right to expect that their union, including the full-time faculty, will push for full implementation of the standards of good employment practice outlined in this report.

5. Where the full-time and part-time/adjunct faculty members at an institution are not in the same union, regular communication and information exchange should be established between representatives of the full-time and part-time/adjunct faculty.

6. Given the rewards that come from developing an effective union, membership dues for part-time/adjunct faculty should be set at a high enough level for the local union to be strong, while at the same time taking into account the limited compensation part-time/adjunct faculty receive.

7. All faculty unions on campus should take responsibility for initiating programs aimed at increasing understanding between full-time and part-time/adjunct faculty members.

8. National, state and local higher education unions should provide information to, and advocate on behalf of, part-time/adjunct faculty applying for unemployment insurance during periods when they are not teaching.

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