by P.D. Lesko
In Washington State, the AFT and NEA have a virtual lock on the organization of higher education faculty. At Green River Community College (GRCC) in Auburn, Washington, the faculty are represented by a singular AFT-NEA joint affiliate. Kathryn Re teaches mathematics at Green River Community College, and in 2011 helped co-found an independent adjunct faculty association at Green River Community College. It was a move to counteract what Re and other adjunct faculty at the college allege is a conflict of interest that exists in unified locals. At Green River Community College, members of the union’s Executive Committee have been division chairs. In a November 13, 2012 email Re sent to the part-time faculty at Green River Community College which was forwarded to AdjunctNation, she writes, “Adjunct supervisors are not only in the union, but run the union. Higher education faculty are the only union members in the state where supervisors are in the same union with the ones they supervise. The Division Chairs are not only in the union, but they are leaders of the union.”
Her colleague, Keith Hoeller, a long-time adjunct faculty activist at his own school, in Washington state and nationally, told AdjunctNation that after the independent faculty association was founded, “The union people went bananas. Three of the adjuncts who founded the organization with me were let go….”
When Phil Ray Jack, former President of the Green River Community College union embezzled approximately $10,000 in union funds, Re and Hoeller insisted that union officials file charges, and release information about the crime (Jack confessed, resigned his tenured position and moved out of state) to the membership. While current United Faculty president Mark Millbauer did release information about the theft, and did offer Re and Hoeller the opportunity to examine audit documents and other information under supervision, he has steadfastly refused to cooperate with the local police in having the crime investigated. In an email to AdjunctNation, however, Millbauer wrote that he had cooperated with local police in their investigation. Police reports released in response to Freedom of Information Act requests showed Millbauer’s assertion to be false.
Thus far, Re and Hoeller’s persistent calls for a police investigation into the embezzlement of union funds have been unsuccessful. However, Kathryn Re has continued to be vocal in her criticisms of both her own affiliate, of which she is a long-time member, as well as the alleged conflicts of interest inherent in the unified local model.
Andrew Jeffrey, 52, teaches Philosophy at Green River Community College, and is active in the United Faculty—one of just 40 adjuncts who belong to the union (there are 140 full-time faculty union members) and an official union representative of the college’s 300 adjunct faculty. Andrew Jeffret is a staunch supporter of United Faculty, and of its full-time faculty leadership, as was Phil Jack. Jack, a one-time part-timer, helped the NEA and AFT in the Washington Legislature with testimony in support of a political push to get more money from the state’s Legislature in order to replace part-timers with full-time faculty. Shortly thereafter, Jack was given a tenure-line position at GRCC without the inconvenience of having to compete in a national search—the job was never advertised. It was after he’d been put on the tenure-track that Jack embezzled from the GRCC union.
Like Phil Jack before him, Andrew Jeffrey has proven to be a reliable ally to the full-time faculty union leaders at Green River Community College.
According to records, Jeffrey earned a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Washington in 1994. Jeffrey started teaching part- time at Green River Community College in 1995. In 2012 he told AFT’s On Campus magazine, “Not including a break to teach a half-year full-time stint in Pennsylvania and another yearlong full-time stint at the University of Washington, Tacoma, he’s been aiming for an average annual load of 13 classes at GRCC and other local colleges and universities for nearly 20 years. I’d take the full-time position anywhere in the country for added job security and the way banks look at you.”
The dispute between Kathryn Re, Keith Hoeller and other adjuncts in the union and the union’s full-time faculty leaders (their own division heads, in some cases) has devolved into a bitter conflict. With union elections pending, Andrew Jeffrey sent out an email to the college’s adjuncts urging them to join the union and run for office.
Why I joined the union by Andrew Jeffery
I didn’t have to join the union, but I did. I felt both that it was the right thing to do, and the self-actualizing thing to do. First it was the right thing to do, at least for me, because I owed something back to those who fought and picketed to get a contract where I could make the wage I do. You may think it is a bad or unfair wage in comparison to what tenured faculty make, despite their additional obligations, but I compare my wages to those of adjunct colleagues in non-union states. My colleague Timera Drake is an education refugee from a right-to-work state where the unions had no power and she couldn’t hope to make a living wage at all, even working at multiple campuses. I don’t want that here. Second, joining, for me, was the self-actualizing thing to do. I have greater participation in my own destiny, more of a voice in what happens to me than I would otherwise. I’ve taken my place at the table. I don’t operate the way I do because I think it’ll get me a tenure-track job someday. That’s unrealistic, and I’m not in denial (at least not in the last four years, anyway). But I have made a conscious choice to be as much a part of this community as I can.
Last point: the new Administration has put the faculty on notice that this last contract rollover will be the last. After next year, everything is on the table. The adjunct file system is on the table. Division Chair control over adjunct assignments. Everything. And like it or not, the UF is the sole bargaining agent for all faculty. Participation in the UF is participation in the bargaining process, in having as much of say in our future as we can—in preserving or losing the few securities and collegial climate we do have. And maybe it’s also an opportunity to improve the contract of adjuncts too. But again, that is for actual union participants to push for, the ones who come to the table and make themselves heard at the level of the Local.
Let me conclude with my list of “Top Ten Reasons to Join the United Faculty”:
10. It’s cheap. People tell me they can’t afford union dues. Give me a break–I probably spend more money on LATTES than I do on union dues!
9. With a little initiative, you can make it pay for itself. If you don’t already belong to the AFT or NEA, joining the United Faculty of Green River gets you, into both state and national organizations, and the larger organizations are constantly sending credit and insurance offers at special union discounts.
8. Your full-time colleagues will start thinking of you as a “union bother/sister.” More generally, participatory union membership lets people know who you are, strengthening your place in the campus community.
7. You gain a greater understanding of your contract and how things really get done around here.
6. Free pizza at all-faculty meetings.
5. Opportunities to serve on committees, which improves your curriculum vitae.
4. You get to identify with the labor movement, which is “IN” right now.
3. If you don’t join the union, you’ll never have the chance to vote me out of office.
2. You probably already make 30% more than you would if you worked in a “right-to-work” state, so you owe something back to the organizations that make that possible. It’s the right thing to do.
1. Self -determination: you get to participate in the agency as negotiates the conditions you will be working under in the future, instead of just letting the future happen to you!
Kathryn Re, in response, sent an email that was a point-by-point refutation of Jeffrey’s effort to convince the college’s adjuncts to become active in the union. Re writes:
I have long been a union member. I was President of a WEA local K-12 union and I believe in unions. But a true union treats all of its members equally and fights for better wages, benefits, and job security for ALL of its members, not just a privileged few. The United Faculty has divided the faculty into two separate but unequal groups. I do not believe the adjuncts, who form two-thirds of the bargaining unit, are being fairly represented by the current union.
In response to Andrew Jeffery’s 10 reasons to join the union, here are:
10 reasons why 90% of adjuncts have refused to join the United Faculty Coalition at GRCC:
1. Adjunct supervisors are not only in the union, but run the union. Higher education faculty are the only union members in the state where supervisors are in the same union with the ones they supervise. The Division Chairs are not only in the union, but they are leaders of the union.
2. The majority of the full-time faculty select all of the union leaders, including the adjunct representatives.
3. The dues are unfair to adjuncts. Every full-time member (all full time members must belong to the union) pays $620 per year, regardless of income. And full-timers do not pay dues on any overloads they teach. Adjunct members of the union pay dues on every dollar they make! An adjunct who teaches the maximum courses allowed (8/9 of full time faculty) pays as much as $421 per year.
4. In the two-tiered system, adjuncts get paid 60% of the pay of their counterparts for teaching the same number of classes.
5. Full-time members can ask for extra classes to teach (overloads) for extra money, but adjuncts are limited to 8/9 of a regular full-timers load.
6. Full-time members get a pay raise for getting more education as well as pay raises for more years of experience. Adjuncts only get a small number (five) of pay raises for experience. Full-timers also get to divvy up any turnover savings when an experienced educator retires and a newer educator takes his/her place. Adjuncts don’t ever get this turnover money.
7. When a new full-timer is hired, a copy of the contract is handed to them. I’ve been here 5 years and have never been given a copy of the contract by anyone. How can I understand the contract if I’m not given one, nor am I informed that I need to follow one?
8. I have been to 5-6 all-faculty meetings and there has never been any pizza, which is hardly free given that we are being overcharged for dues.
9. Adjuncts owe the union NOTHING for pay raises they get, benefits they have, or even sick leave they have. All of this comes from Olympia, where Keith Hoeller and the Washington Part-Time Faculty Association have been active for the past 15 years. Adjuncts used to get only 40 cents on the dollar compared to full-timers; now they get 60 cents thanks in large part to the $60 million obtained in Olympia. Keith Hoeller wrote and passed a sick leave bill that gave all adjuncts in the state pro-rated, cumulative sick leave. Keith also initiated two class action lawsuits which expanded eligibility for health care and retirement benefits for adjuncts. Dana Rush was a named plaintiff on the retirement suit. Settled out of court for $25 million, thousands of adjuncts got thousands of dollars in back compensation.
10. When a union discovers an embezzlement of nearly $10,000 and keeps it “in house,” does not report it to police, and refuses to cooperate with the police when they are notified, and then uses the “cover” of union activities to refuse to release information requested by the Freedom of Information Act, I wonder if adjuncts can trust them to support us.
On this last point, I encourage everyone to read the three articles on the Green River embezzlement case at AdjunctNation.com. The latest is called “When the Powerful Victimize the Weak: Penn State as a Morality Play About PT Faculty” (November 1). http://www.adjunctnation.com/2012/11/01/when-the-powerful-victimize-the-weak-penn-state-as-a-morality-play-about-pt-faculty/
In his email, Jeffrey references GRCC part-timer Timera Drake, another staunch supporter of the United Faculty union and its full-time faculty leadership. The day after Re’s email, Drake sent out an email message to the college’s adjunct faculty in which she attacks Re personally while defending Jeffrey and the union’s leadership.
Drake (pictured left) writes in her email, sent to all of the college’s adjuncts, “This is a continued campaign of misinformation, Kathryn. I invite you (and have invited you) to join our board so you have the inside track on the CORRECT information about the Union at GRCC, yet you repeatedly refuse our requests to join us, preferring instead to encourage the divide in the faculty and waging a campaign of misinformation against the Union. We could really accomplish a lot more if you’d work with us, rather than against us….I think you owe Andrew, myself, and Katy Shaw an apology. I feel much more valued as a colleague by my fellow FT faculty (both on the Board and not) than by you, a fellow adjunct….But you repeatedly and continually malign members of the Union Board both in speech and in writing in order to serve your own purposes of creating a campaign of misinformation.”
Incredibly, Drake goes on to claim in response to Re’s revelation that the union chose to refuse to cooperate with the Auburn Police Department that, “We cooperated with any and all inquiries into this case, and we took the advice of our lawyers in how to proceed. As Board members, we deal with sensitive information about pay, employment status, and communications between us and the Union’s lawyer, which are protected by attorney-client privilege. We take the confidential nature of our positions very seriously. Anyone who has been in a sensitive situation appreciates our discretion. And if you were ever to end up in a compromising situation, you can be guaranteed that we would protect your information as zealously as we have protected other individual’s information in the past. That is why we have had to dedicate hundreds of hours collectively to going through communications and redacting confidential information in order to provide the most complete information for the FOIA without revealing any sensitive information. If anything, our diligent response to the FOIA demonstrates our commitment to confidentiality and how we would support ANY faculty member who comes to us with a labor-related issue.”
Police records contradict Drake’s assertions that the union “cooperated with any and all inquiries into this case.” Quite the opposite, detective’s records show United Faculty President Mark Millbauer, when contacted, said he would not cooperate with law enforcement officials.
AdjunctNation’s FOIA request for information related to the embezzlement from the union were met with claims by Mark Millbauser to Green River Community College officials that our FOIA requests for emails sent at a public institution to and from email addresses provided by the public institution were “unconstitutional.” Green River Community College officials went on to claim that responding to AdjunctNation’s July 2012 FOIAs was not possible because the union’s president, Millbauer, refused to comply with the FOIA while his union “looked into the legality” of the request. It was a stalling tactic that the Washington Attorney General’s office wrote to remind GRCC officials was not a legal reason to refuse to respond to public records requests.
A third FOIA requesting copies of emails sent between GRCC officials in response to AdjunctNation’s July 2012 records request, turned up over 200 pages of emails, including a flurry of emails from Millbauer to GRCC officials in which he claimed he would go to court rather than provide the requested documents. Other emails revealed that Millbauer demanded that union officials be paid an hourly rate to respond to AdjunctNation.com’s FOIA requests.
GRCC Part-timer Kathryn Re writes to her fellow part-time faculty at GRCC: “When a union discovers an embezzlement of nearly $10,000 and keeps it ‘in house,’ does not report it to police, and refuses to cooperate with the police when they are notified, and then uses the ‘cover’ of union activities to refuse to release information requested by the Freedom of Information Act, I wonder if adjuncts can trust them to support us.” Andrew Jeffrey and Timera Drake, both adjuncts, assure their colleagues that the union, and its full-time faculty leaders can, indeed, be trusted.
Andrew Jeffrey urges adjuncts to “take over” the GRCC local. So far, adjuncts at the college aren’t buying what Jeffrey and Drake are trying to sell.
“We’re afraid to run for union leadership positions,” said one GRCC adjunct who asked not to be identified. “Those people have the power to hire and fire us, to decide which courses we teach, and whether we end up with positive evaluations. I’d have to be crazy to oppose any one of them for a position of leadership in the union.”
Another part-time faculty member was less politic. “Andrew Jeffrey and Timera Drake are cut from the same cloth as Phil Jack. Jack was an Uncle Tom. Kathryn Re and Keith Hoeller are being attacked, personally, because the union’s leaders don’t want to admit that they covered up for Phil Jack, and are continuing to cover up for Phil. Is there a conflict of interest? Hell, yes!”