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November 15, 2016
After Trump’s Election:
What Kind of University Do We Want?
Steve Newman and Jennie Shanker
In the wake of Donald Trump’s election, there are consequences we do not and cannot yet know. But it is very likely that harder times are ahead for education, organized labor, the environment, arts and research funding, voting rights, and immigrants, women, people of color, the LGBTQIA+ community, and others who disproportionately suffer unwarranted violence. We in TAUP are committed to working with those seeking to fight back against these threats. In addition, we must always keep focus on the question at the heart of TAUP’s mission: What kind of Temple University do we want for our students, faculty, librarians and academic professionals, as well as for the wider community?
This article in Inside Higher Ed points to the changes likely on the National Labor Relations Board that will create unfavorable conditions for workers' progress. Academic freedom faces serious threats, while the expression of hate and harassment on campuses across the country rises. This is accompanied by long-standing challenges, including flat or declining state funding, the erosion of faculty governance, and increasing reliance on under-paid part-time faculty.
How will we respond to these new dangers and ongoing challenges? What kind of Temple University do we want?
We are fortunate in that we can now work toward addressing these questions and move forward through these troubling times with a much stronger union. We have made great gains by adding 1400 adjuncts to our ranks. Instead of facing this moment with union protection for only full-time faculty, our numbers have doubled. Consider the colleagues we have added: Despite a lack of job security and an administration set against their organizing, adjuncts have worked in solidarity, pushed back, and won. Full-time faculty, librarians, and academic professionals stand to benefit from their example.
We must move forward together. It is unacceptable that faculty at Temple University are earning only $1300 per credit-hour, get no regular raises, no path to promotion, minimal (if any) help with health insurance, have no sick leave policy, and suffer other indignities to their professional status. Having our adjunct brothers and sisters in our union helps us face upcoming challenges, and strengthens the position of full-time faculty, librarians, and academic professionals who will go to the bargaining table in 2018.
We are ushering in a new era for TAUP. We urge members to vote in the upcoming Constituency Council elections. If you are concerned about the effect of the election on all of the constituents of the higher ed community, we urge you to become active in the union. If you are not a member, now is the time to join. Together, we will move forward.
Steve Newman (email@example.com) is an associate professor of English and Vice President of the TAUP
Jennie Shanker (firstname.lastname@example.org) is an adjunct associate professor at Tyler:TempleArt and was an organizer in the effort to bring adjuncts into TAUP.
November 2, 2016
TAUP negotiates for adjunct dignity
Since spring, negotiations to include adjuncts in the TAUP-Temple contract have been ongoing. Progress has been slow, not only because the issues involved are complex but also because the Temple administration has chosen to complicate them needlessly. They have chosen to question the applicability for adjuncts of just about every article of the current agreement, which covers full-time members of the bargaining unit.
Not only that, but they have questioned why we should have the statement on academic freedom in the contract at all. They proposed to remove this contractual protection for full-time faculty as well. These actions have required TAUP to constantly reiterate that we are at the table to negotiate on behalf of adjuncts, and that we are not there to revise the existing terms that continue until the expiration date of October 15, 2018.
Who qualifies as a “regular” adjunct? That key definition is a major point of contention because the PLRB in the order certifying TAUP as the bargaining agent for regular adjuncts didn’t give clear guidance. Over the river, at Rutgers University, the union and management agreed that adjuncts are covered by their collective bargaining agreement from their first day of hire. Temple wants to restrict coverage to a portion of the adjuncts who teach and work here. TAUP wants an expansive definition, so that more of our faculty can enjoy the protections and advantages of our union contract. There has been some progress toward agreement here and we hope for more.
Of course, the core issues of negotiation that affect all faculty are pay, benefits and working conditions. On pay, TAUP has proposed that adjunct faculty minimum pay per credit hour be raised from the currently meager $1,300 (i.e., $3,900 per 3-credit course) to a proportion of the negotiated minimum pay level of full-time faculty engaged only in teaching. A great many of our full-time NTT colleagues on the teaching/instructional track do more than teach and deserve recognition and extra compensation for that. At our sister local at Rutgers, for instance an adjunct teaching a 3-credit course in fall 2016 is paid a minimum of $1,684 per credit hour (i.e., $5,084). That’s more than 30% higher than at Temple. Any adjunct at Rutgers teaching this semester who is already above that minimum also got a 2.0% raise. By the last year of the Rutgers contract, an adjunct will earn $5,178 at minimum for a 3-credit course.
TAUP’s proposal is ambitious, but it is not out of line with what adjuncts make at comparable institutions. It is also a starting point, subject to negotiation. Such increases would be well within Temple’s ability to pay. Let’s look at some facts: According to data supplied to TAUP by Temple administration, the payroll for adjuncts in the bargaining unit for the Spring and Fall 2016 semesters combined totaled about $16.2 million. By contrast, the total annual compensation (pay and benefits) for full-time members of the TAUP bargaining unit is approximately $180 million, more than 11 times greater. The adjunct payroll accounts for only about 4.25% of all spending in the TAUP schools and colleges ($383 million in the 2016-2017 budget approved by the Board of Trustees). By comparison, full time compensation in these schools and colleges is approximately 47% of spending. Even significant increases to the meager pay and benefits of adjuncts would not have a significant impact in Temple’s overall budget of more than $2.9 billion.
As for benefits, TAUP has proposed that adjuncts receive access for single coverage to the health, dental and prescription insurance plans with a 50% share of the premium cost. Full-time bargaining unit members pay from 20% to 23% of the premium and also get family coverage. This is comparable to the benefits offered under the union contracts at Community College of Philadelphia and at the PASSHE universities. Not all adjuncts sign up for these benefits, but many do and they appreciate having access to them.
In sum, TAUP wants adjuncts to be compensated fairly for the work they do for Temple’s students. We hope that the administration will agree that these important members of our faculty, who teach vast numbers of our students, should get a significant raise in minimum pay and adequate annual raises, which they have never received before. Adjuncts are deserving of compensation and treatment that is due to professionals. That is what they are now after a long fight—part of our “union of professionals.”