Interesting Tip-off

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Listen to my blog entry here.

I have been reading, with interest, the whoop-la over at the AFT about its FACE initiative. Craig Smith has given over his FACE-talk blog to part-time faculty in states where FACE legislation is being introduced. Lila Harper, a Vice President of AFT-Washington left her opinions concerning FACE, then Jennie Smith, a Pennsylvania AFT representative and part-timer, left a somewhat plaintive call for solidarity. There is, it appears, some serious dissent in the ranks concerning FACE, and it seems that AFT officials are trying to stop it.

A couple of weeks ago, I received an email from an Adjunct Advocate reader who alleges that the AFT-Washington had hired part-time faculty at $30 per hour for its so-called FACE Force. The hiring of the faculty isn’t really anything out of the ordinary. Organizations hire consultants all the time to help educate members. It was the second part of the email that caught my eye. The writer said that part-time faculty employed by the AFT-Washington’s FACE Force had testified in front of the Washington State Legislature in support of the AFT-Washington’s proposed FACE legislation.

Paying people to testify isn’t anything new either. Expert witnesses don’t testify at civil and criminal trials out of the goodness of their hearts. They get paid. The catch is this: those taking testimony are told which witnesses are getting paid to testify. I sent an email to Dr. Lynne Dodson, who did the hiring for FACE Force, and asked if any of the part-time faculty who’d testified in front of the state legislators had been paid to do so.

According to Dr. Dodson’s biography on her local’s website, “….She became SCCFT President for the first time in the fall of 1999, took a year off when she ran (proudly but unsuccessfully, alas) for the state legislature, and was re-elected to the presidency in 2007. She is also a VP in the AFT-Washington and chairs the AFT-Washington Community College Council, she’s a delegate to the state and county labor councils, and serves on the Executive Board of WA State Jobs with Justice.”

I have assigned a reporter to investigate whether part-time faculty in Washington State were paid by the AFT-Washington/AFT to testify and, if so, if legislators were made aware. I’m also curious about where the money to pay the part-timers came from, and how much was spent. As I said, paying part-time faculty to share their opinions in support of FACE is nothing out of the ordinary. Not making it clear to those taking the testimony that the witnesses were paid is somewhat more unorthodox. More on this later, as the story develops (or not).

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