In one breath (at COCAL VIII), CSU union representatives laud the job security clauses in their contracts. Heck, even The Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed have both jumped onto the bandwagon where musicians play harps and flutes and CSU union representatives with really long arms pat themselves on the back for negotiating “job security” that “protects” the jobs of CSU lecturers and part-time faculty. Yeah, well, let’s not get carried away. The clauses, as I have written before, are based on appointment type and seniority. Lecturers under contract can get it in the neck at anytime during the course of their contracts.
When confronted with these inconvenient facts, unionists generally fall back onto the “for the love of Ahhhhnold, something is better than nothing!” rhetoric. Well, I suppose. Unless, of course, yours is the “contract” job that’s being cut.
Well, what with the $66 billion in cuts demanded of the CSU system by California’s Governator, things in the Golden State are getting ugly. In a piece published in the San Jose University Spartan, a CSU administrator is quoted as saying that, “class sizes might increase, and schools would probably have larger classes and [fewer] class sections; there would probably be more part-time faculty.”
In response to this proposed strategy, a spokesman from the California Faculty Association, the union that represents the lecturers and part-timers in the CSU system had this to say: “That’s bad for everyone….Those part-time faculty do not have job security,” said Brian Ferguson, a spokesperson for the California Faculty Association. “If you have a good teacher who’s a lecturer – that’s what part time faculty are called in the CSU system – and they can’t get tenure, they’re going to bolt and go to another job.”
Just like that, ladies and gentlemen, scads of part-time faculty all over the CSU system don’t have any job security and are going to up and, well, “bolt.” Brian Ferguson, union representative is, in essence, shoveling the horse manure high and deep for the benefit of the student newspaper and the students who are reading the student newspaper.
If one were to believe the blarney of CFA’s Ferguson, (and why shouldn’t the student journalists and student readers?), one’s part-time professor could, well, bolt mid-term leaving her/his students high and dry. That would, indeed, be bad for everyone. However, one has to wonder how often that happens. If it happens frequently that part-time faculty with contracts just up and “bolt” mid-contract because, as Ferguson claims, the part-timers can’t get (or don’t have) tenure, one has to conclude that the contracts simply aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. One has to wonder why the union isn’t pushing for part-time faculty to have tenure to reduce the number of “bolters.” Moreover, one would have to question why the college would bother to agree to multi-year contracts at all if the faculty entering into those contracts treated the contractual relationships lightly enough to “bolt” at the first opportunity in any great numbers.
The truth is, of course, that part-time faculty in California face a horrid job market where there are fewer opportunities, not more. Tenure-line hirings in California are being trimmed; thus, there is every reason for a part-time faculty members teaching within the CSU system to remain in their positions, to guard their jobs. Brian Ferguson probably didn’t study market economics, or he would know when there is high unemployment and economic uncertainty, workers tend not to “bolt” from job-to-job.
Here’s the reality: the contract negotiated by the CFA calls for layoffs to start with “first, less than full?time temporary faculty unit employees who do not hold a three?year (or longer) appointment.” Part-time faculty are the first to get the bum’s rush. Period. The union may find it momentarily convenient to paint CSU’s part-timers as unreliable careerists, but in truth the union has negotiated a contract that targets part-time faculty for layoff first, regardless of their credentials, experience and teaching evaluations.
The reality is this: thousands of CSU part-timers are being screwed because they are members of the CFA and subject to the contract negotiated by their union representatives. They’re being sacrificed to the goddess of seniority.
Now that’s something that is really bad for everyone.