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State should give part-time community college faculty a fair deal

Guest Opinion: The state has damaged the teachers it relies on by tying them to unions that don't represent their interests.
Shoreline Community College's campus in fall.

Shoreline Community College's campus in fall. Shoreline Community College

Although much attention has been paid to providing a living wage for unskilled workers, no one has asked if skilled workers should also be provided with a living wage. 

Under current Washington state laws, two-thirds of our state’s community and technical college faculty are classified as temporary part-time faculty and paid poverty-level wages (typical annual pay for a part-timer teaching half-time is $16,835). This is not simply because part-timers work fewer hours; it is because part-time faculty are paid at a much lower rate than full-time faculty.

The law denies the part-timers some very basic protections. In Clawson v. Grays Harbor Community College (2002) Seattle attorney Steve Frank brought suit on behalf of the adjunct faculty who taught in several community colleges, including the Seattle community colleges and Green River. Based entirely on legal definitions that made little or no distinction between full-time and part-time faculty, our state Supreme Court unanimously — and wrongly — decided that part-time faculty were “professionals” and exempt from the Minimum Wage Act. The court discounted how adjuncts were treated, instead ruling on how the colleges defined them. 

The ruling also means that part-time faculty are not paid for all the time they devote to the job. At least for unskilled workers, that practice would be forbidden.

Can’t the adjunct faculty members do what every other mistreated group of employees does and organize a union? In fact, the teachers unions are at the heart of the problem. The adjuncts are already organized. State collective bargaining law, written decades ago when there were few adjuncts, forces them into the same unions with the full-time faculty, who have tenure.

Washington state law at present denies adjuncts the fundamental right to have their own separate unions. In Washington colleges, full-time faculty execute the managerial function of determining their own workload by being allowed to teach overtime at will; whenever they do, they displace jobs that would otherwise be assigned to adjuncts. This constitutes a conflict of interest among members of the same union. 

While unions have traditionally opposed the inclusion of both supervisors and the supervised in the same bargaining unit because of the obvious conflicts of interest between the two groups, the higher ed divisions of the Washington Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers insist on putting them inside the units — something they do not allow in their K-12 divisions.

The result of our state’s putting adjuncts, who teach on quarterly contracts with little to no job security at any of the colleges, in the same units with full-timers, who are protected by tenure and who may act as their daily supervisors, is the separate but unequal system we have called “faculty apartheid.”

At every opportunity, the full-time faculty have cannibalized the salaries of part-time faculty, whether it be salaries, or incremental step raises, or cost of living adjustments, part-time equity pay, or overtime work. The full-timers consistently take the larger share for their minority and leave a pittance for the part-timers who form the majority. 

In 40 years, the part-timers have seen few gains at the bargaining table. The major gains such as health care, retirement, and sick leave have either come from the legislature or class action lawsuits initiated by members of the Washington Part-Time Faculty Association. Unknown to most of the adjuncts, the AFT and WEA have opposed bills for equal raises and job security for adjuncts.

Because unions are granted the right to serve as the exclusive collective bargaining agent, it is imperative that they exercise democratic procedures and their duty of fair representation to all members. Yet everything that unions are supposed to do — treat members equally, provide better salaries, job security and due process grievance procedures — they have failed to do for adjuncts at community and technical colleges in the state. The two-track system leaves the adjuncts worse than if they had no union at all.

Tim Sheldon’s SB 5844, which will be heard in the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee this Friday morning, will at long last give adjunct faculty the right to choose their own unions free of supervisors. Will the Legislature act to give us the labor rights all other state employees have?

Keith Hoeller is a co-founder (with Teresa Knudsen) of the Washington Part-Time Faculty Association. He is the editor and a contributor to "Equality for Contingent Faculty: Overcoming the Two-Tier System" (Vanderbilt University Press, 2014).

Jack Longmate teaches English at Olympic College and is a founding member of Washington Part-Time Faculty Association and a contributor to the book "Equality for Contingent Faculty: Overcoming the Two-Tier System."


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Comments:

Posted Thu, Feb 6, 8:24 p.m. Inappropriate

The word apartheid is a term which should be reserved for the most egregrious systems of racial oppression such as that found in South Africa or Palestine. Comparing full-time faculty to racist Afrikaaners undermines your argument and effectively destroys solidarity amongst faculty.

Full time community college faculty are not the moral equivalent of Afrikaaners in a segregated state. To say that a community college instructor with a doctorate on tenure track making 50,000 a year with with a 200k student debt is an oppressor of adjunct colleagues is an absurd but useful claim for those forces pushing to privatize public higher education.

Full-time faculty like myself are not a separate species of oppressor Keith. I taught as an adjunct between 1980 and 1996 before achieving tenure. Full time community college faculty are not cutting a fat hog, their wage scale is below K-12, they have had no Cost of Living adjustment for six years and they also are looking for second jobs to support families.

Moreover, your assertion that full-time faculty constitute supervisors of non-tenured faculty is another misrepresentation. I know of no instance where that has been the case.

We obviously have to work towards the goal of equal pay for equal work and the Seattle faculty union has done that. Seattle has to its credit the smallest differential between full and part-time faculty in the state. Our faculty, full and part-time, have just voted overwhelmingly to distribute proposed pay increases equally amongst all faculty.

Pete Knutson
Anthropology
Seattle Central

pknuts

Posted Fri, Feb 7, 4:19 p.m. Inappropriate

I've worked a while in the Seattle district as an adjunct in a few different programs, and I'd like to support this article. Contrary to what tenured instructor Pete Knutson says above, I indeed worked in a Seattle program that was coordinated by a tenured instructor (in my same union) and was "discontinued" from the same program (aka "not rehired") because of personal differences (or should I say "whims of the privileged?"). My "fellow" tenured instructor was my de facto boss even if she didn't stamp my employment papers.
While it's true that Seattle has a system of deans who are part of admin (rather than a system of tenured faculty "program chairs" like many of the other colleges) there are still various ways that tenured faculty here can exert their power over adjuncts. After all, hiring committees for FT positions are often/usually dominated by the tenured faculty, and it's my experience that the tenured faculty also pretty much choose any adjuncts that are allowed to have coordination stipends in my program (so we adjuncts must be good boys and girls, lest we run afoul!).
Furthermore, Knutson mentions that the Seattle faculty recently voted to affirm "equal" pay raises. What he means is teachers were asked by the union if they would support "equal percentage" pay raises, and were given no other options. In fact, equal percentage pay raises tend to increase the dollar disparity between tenured and adjunct. If you want to really achieve equal pay, then of course a HIGHER percent should be given to adjuncts until equal pay is achieved. This was never proposed.
It's no surprise to me that tenured instructors can feel threatened by this proposal of separating the unions. They are afraid of being overwhelmed by a flood of adjuncts who have never "achieved" tenure (Knutson's term) and who would NEVER go on strike in support of the tenured--because they are not even allowed tenure. And if PTers had their own union, or the right to create one, they would finally have a bit of leverage.
If Knutson is truly forward-thinking, which I think he might still be, I hope he'll be getting on the bandwagon of creating a one-tiered system of faculty in which everyone is in the same security and pay system, not boasting about "the smallest pay differential."

kitandk

Posted Fri, Feb 7, 7:56 p.m. Inappropriate

The union is open to all faculty members, full-time and part-time. Rather than support legislation to destroy the union, why don't you participate in the democratic process within the union?

If you don't like the direction, organize! Every faculty member whether full or adjunct has a vote. The entire union membership just voted overwhelmingly to reject the Administration's proposal to give raises to full-time faculty only, the option you failed to mention.

There's a reason why your legislation to split the faculty is co-sponsored by ALEC favorite Senator Pam Roach, R-gun nut. Destroying public sector unions is the number one priority of the corporate monopoly calling the shots in the USA. The demonization of overworked and underpaid full-time teachers is a page from their playbook.

pknuts

Posted Sat, Feb 8, 2:43 a.m. Inappropriate

That's like saying we should support the democratic process within a banana republic. They have elections too, after all.

You fail to mention that quite a few instructors in Seattle voted "no" on the "equal percentage" vote. They wished for raises only for FT, apparently. It's amazing to me that any of my fellow union members would be so hard-hearted, but so be it. I suppose that's why truly equalizing the pay is out of the question.

Citing Pam Roach as a supporter of the legislation is a really cheap low-blow. BTW, "right wing nut" Ron Paul supports the US not getting involved in foreign conflicts (much like left-wing Bernie Sanders). So does his "nut" status make all his endorsements bad?

"Destroying the union", is that a joke? Separate PT right-to-organize would add to union activism. Other states allow for separate PT unions and others even require it, for quite sensible reasons. The AFT and NEA affiliates in those states willingly and gratefully accept these PT unions into their same fold. They probably even make more dues money because of it!

Pete's comments unfortunately have a taste of the old "we are good to our slaves here" comments that used to be heard in the 1850s. Pete, you're absolutely right that conditions aren't nearly as egregious in the colleges as they were then, but the conditions are parallel. The only difference is one of degree.

kitandk

Posted Thu, Feb 6, 11:43 p.m. Inappropriate

For 28 years I worked as an adjunct faculty member - at Seattle Central, Edmonds Community College and the UW School of Business. Although I have a doctorate and many years of teaching experience, I made a fraction of the salary paid to tenure-track faculty. I received health benefits only after class-action litigation forced the community colleges to aggregate work done at several community colleges.

For the first ten years I taught, adjuncts were denied the right to pay into TIAA-CREF. Another class-action lawsuit forced the state to allow us into that system. Because of academic apartheid, I had only 17 years to pay into that system, although I was a state worker for 28 years.

The practice at the UW Business School was to separate faculty mailboxes - one alphabet for tenure-track, another for adjuncts. As "temporary" workers, we were not given the opportunity to contribute to the Combined Fund until I made a stink about it.

At all the schools at which I taught, I was compensated only for the actual classroom contact hours. My classes could be cancelled on the first day of the quarter for any reason. Often, I had no academic office, no telephone and no private place to meet with my students.

Every teachers' union I was ever forced to join used my dues to work actively against my interests. When the Legislature allocated raises for all UW faculty, the University sat on the raises. AAUP, the sole bargaining unit for all UW faculty, brought a class action lawsuit on behalf of the tenure-track only, leaving adjuncts out altogether.
I put my name on a separate class-action lawsuit on behalf of adjunct faculty so we could get our raises. Then I was forced out of my job by the Business School administration. So much for "faculty solidarity."

For nearly 50 years, teachers' unions at WA colleges and universities have failed to represent the interests of all their members - tenure-track and adjuncts alike. It's time for the Legislature to give adjuncts the same legal right that every other worker it the state has - to form unions that work for their interests.

I would urge the legislature to ban academic tenure altogether. Only one other profession claims life-time job security - federal judges - and it's granted by the U.S. Constitution. As the financial crisis deepens in every state, I hope lawmakers will get rid of this outdated, exploitative and hugely expensive relic.

Susan Helf, J.D.
Seattle

Posted Fri, Feb 7, 8:18 a.m. Inappropriate

I have no dog in the hunt, but do have a friend who teaches part time at Lake Washington Tech.

They are in a union with the "vocational" teaching staff, who typically work "full time". The union, which they are forced to join, also works against their interests, defining faculty, wages and benefits to include only the "full time" vocational teaching staff, and giving short shrift to the part timers.

It is embarrassing as a taxpayer to have the haves and the have nots, and not allow the part-timers to have their own union, one that bargains in their best interests.

Geezer

Posted Sat, Feb 8, 11:47 a.m. Inappropriate

I've never thought "apartheid" was absolutely the best metaphor, but when labor is carved up into separate and stratified units, and goodies are handed out in proportion to where you've been arbitrarily placed in an arbitrarily created hierarchy--as in the present case, certainly--we shouldn't spend too much time on the niceties of rhetoric.
Also, in line with the editorial and at least one of the comments here, it is absolutely the case, and not just in Washington State, that majority faculty part-timers are frequently under the supervision and subject to the management of minority (and still dwindling in percentage of all faculty) full-time faculty who may well also be members of the same "mixed" union." This is my own personal experience, for instance, at both Westchester Community College (SUNY) and LaGuardia Community College (CUNY), where I am an adjunct in anthropology. This bill under discussion is of national importance and, not to take an absolute stance on all of its provisions, I do urge serious people to avoid getting hung up on the correctness of a convenient descriptor.

Posted Sat, Feb 8, 1:52 p.m. Inappropriate

On one hand I agree. Seperate is inherently unequal and my faculty contract has many seperate provisions for full vs part-time faculty, most notably the pay scales and hiring practices.

On the other hand, you have the same vote as full-time faculty. Perhaps if you were to participate in the process...

gcneill

Posted Sat, Feb 8, 5:41 p.m. Inappropriate

But, gmcneill, you seem to be completely unconcerned about some of the most obvious objections to your idea, chief among which is that in mixed units there are apt to be FTT faculty who function as "managers" in regard to part-timers (and, btw, in regard in some instances also to FT non-tenure track contingents), and that this can indeed--and does-- discourage active participation in the micro politics of those locals. Your offhand... manner of shrugging off the problem doesn't help much.

Posted Sat, Feb 8, 6:46 p.m. Inappropriate

apartheid |əˈpärtˌ(h)āt; -ˌ(h)īt|
noun historical
(in South Africa) a policy or system of segregation or discrimination on grounds of race.
• segregation in other contexts : sexual apartheid.

Pknuts:Your admonition to stay with the strict usage of apartheid is in keeping with the rest of your post, which reeks of unexamined privilege. Fighting for PTFaculty in the newly established Interest-based Problem Solving movement at Madison College in Wisconsin, we get similar requests to curb our dogma. The disenfranchised use any means and any rhetoric to get the entitled to hear them ... your answer, like the scolding of the deans and deanlets at Madison College who live pretty well on our backs sounds familiar. We get it. It makes you uncomfortable. Not only do you not want to hear what we are saying, you don't want to even be bothered with ignoring us. If we would only just be silent so you could go about your business being of comfortable in an artificial system (apartheid) that has picked you as a winner and others as losers.

Sherpax

Posted Sat, Feb 8, 8:23 p.m. Inappropriate

dog·ma
noun \ˈdȯg-mə, ˈdäg-\

: a belief or set of beliefs that is accepted by the members of a group without being questioned or doubted

Nice choice of word Sherpax, whoever you are. Dogma accurately sums up your post.

Pete Knutson
Anthropology
Seattle Central CC

pknuts

Posted Sun, Feb 9, 11:08 a.m. Inappropriate

As a long term adjunct and union member I say with great confidence that these people are not trying to help us. We have the power to determine union policy because we have the numbers. At the state level this power is manifest in the attention given to part-timer issues. If adjuncts have had trouble with other faculty they should take that complaint to the union. Rejecting the union means rejecting our only avenue to increased financial stability. A new, smaller and less powerful union would less powerfully protect us.

These people seem to be motivated by an ideology and use deception rather than reason. Why they seek to destroy their own incomes I cannot say, but their efforts are only destructive of the interests of adjuncts.

Again, if adjuncts have issues take them to the union, and if your local is unresponsive then take it to the state. Hell take to me, I am at Central, and I will get the union to act, and I am not even an officer.

In the end the point is are we going to stand together in strength with other teachers of try to stand alone, weak and vulnerable?

Only a fool would choose weakness over strength, or unity over isolation.

Dr. Richard Curtis
Philosophy
SCCC

Posted Sun, Feb 9, 11:09 a.m. Inappropriate

Oops, last line is:

Only a fool would choose weakness over strength, or isolation over unity.

RC

Posted Sun, Feb 9, 11:17 a.m. Inappropriate

You know, the more I look at the details and the web site these people have the more it looks like this entire effort is ALEC funded. I would be willing to bet that not only is this legislation supported by ALEC, but the people writing this propaganda are paid by ALEC too. Why else would they do something that is so obviously destructive of working people? I have been musing about that question for some time and now it just seems obvious. They work for ALEC so of course they look slick and well funded, use the ideology of the right-wing, and make such obvious anti-people proposals. Of course, they work for ALEC! It seems so obvious now.

Posted Sun, Feb 9, 2:49 p.m. Inappropriate

Dr Curtis,

Would you be so kind as to post the website you mention? That way we can see for ourselves. Referencing a website without including a link is likw making a claim without citing any sources in support.

Thanking you in advance

VCVaile

Posted Sun, Feb 9, 1:43 p.m. Inappropriate

Correct Richard, this is an anti-union trojan horse. SB 5844 was passed out of the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee yesterday on a straight-line party vote, with all four Republicans supporting.

pknuts

Posted Sun, Feb 9, 3:29 p.m. Inappropriate

As co-author of this Crosscut op-ed, and as one individual providing testimony on SB 5844 at the Senate Commerce and Labor committee at its 7 February 2014 hearing, I can assure Dr. Richard Curtis that neither I nor Dr. Keith Hoeller have any connection with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

Rather than deal with the philosophical arguments we have made in our article, Dr. Curtis seeks to discredit us by falsely associating us with an organization he believes is disliked by unions. The claim is spurious. Mr. Knutson also seeks to dismiss the bill, which seeks to provide an independent union to 10,000 adjunct faculty, by labeling it "anti-union."

State law forces adjuncts into the same unions with the full-time faculty; SB 5844 seeks to enable adjuncts to form their own union to defend our common interests. This is warranted because under the two-track system in our community and technical college system, full-time tenured faculty and part-time adjuncts do not share a community of interests.

Even after decades of service, adjuncts are still classified as temporary, probationary employees, as if they were not unionized at all. Even though the grades and credits awarded by adjuncts have the same value as those of tenured faculty, and the tuition charged for their classes is the same, most adjuncts do not have access to pay step increases that recognize their longevity of service nor reward their professionalism, unlike all tenured faculty who do. Adjuncts are compensated on a discounted secondary pay schedule, and are rarely contracted beyond the current term.

The most fundamental difference is job security and workload, where there is a conflict of interest between tenured faculty and adjuncts. Full-time tenured faculty may teach overtime (overloads) at will, for additional personal income, but whenever they do, they displace their adjunct colleagues who are “represented” by their same union.

In a union of two-tiers of workers, it is not a fair fight when one of the tiers is dominant and the other subordinate. The dismal facts resulting from several decades of WEA and AFT Washington unionism speak for themselves on this point. They have utterly failed the adjuncts who form the majority of their bargaining units.

Rather than reckoning with how unfair this situation is, the full-time tenured faculty members who object to our article have made the claim that we simply haven't tried hard enough to work within our unions. For a portion of published history on the inability of the unions to work through conflicts of interest, please see “A Shop Divided” (http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2011/02/10/adjunct_faculty_activist_blasted_for_going_against_union) and “Prominent Advocate for Adjunct Faculty Clashes Again With Union Leaders” (http://chronicle.com/article/Prominent-Advocate-for-Adjunct/129880/).

We also urge you to read the five investigative articles published in 2012 and 2013 in AdjunctNation.com that deal with union retaliation against adjuncts at Green River Community College. Start with "AFT Washington Affiliate Tries to Block Release of Public Documents Relating to Union Leader's Embezzlement of Funds." http://www.adjunctnation.com/2012/09/05/aft-washington-affiliate-tries-to-block-release-of-public-documents-relating-to-union-leaders-embezzlement-of-funds/

Regarding underlying ideology toward unionism, I am an advocate of unionism where the duty of fair representation is more than a slogan, such as is practiced in British Columbia, particularly the Vancouver Model. At VCC, for example, there is a single salary schedule for all faculty, permanent and temporary, full-time and part-time, and virtually all faculty are either permanent or on tract to become permanent—quite unlike our state where an adjunct can work for decades and still not be assured of employment the next term.

Jack Longmate
Adjunct English Instructor (since 1992)
Olympic College, Bremerton

Posted Sun, Feb 9, 4:34 p.m. Inappropriate

It seems to me, coming from a state where I have no voice at all, that I would want that voice be the most powerful one that could be. And given the arguments I see, and the retaliation against part-time faculty (I have read what happened at GRCC!), there is no other option but to have separate unions.

In Texas, I was "dismissed" two days into the semester because my college saw me as a rabble rouser; I wrote the president of the union to see if the union would help me. I was adjunct faculty, but as fellow faculty, should the union not have shown solidarity? It seems this is not their modus operandi however.

Thus, it is essential that unions be separate and distinct. Tenured faculty cannot represent our interests, even when they say they can because we are in conflict. They were the ones who "dismissed" me, so how would they then go against themselves? No one answered my numerous letters.

How can you expect such an inane law to continue? You must separate these unions! This is not union-busting by any means; this is a declaration of what is just and truthful, yet some people are too afraid to see it. To have separate unions is not striking unions down at all; this is a bill for workers, for the little people, for those who are trying to make it just like the rest-- to have equity for all.

Ana M. Fores Tamayo
Adjunct Justice
Petition: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/better-pay-for-adjuncts
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/AdjunctJustice

anamfores

Posted Sun, Feb 9, 10:31 p.m. Inappropriate

This a right-wing, union-busting bill.

The primary sponsor Sen. Tim Sheldon, switched hia allegiance and delivered the state senate to the Republicans last year. He also received an award from the conservative Washington Policy Center for his commitment to "market-based solutions." See http://masoncountyprogressive.blogspot.com/2012/05/tim-sheldon-and-alec.html

The other sponsor, Sen. Pam Roach, sits on ALEC's International Relations Board. ALEC represents large corporate interests and the wealthy. See http://www.examiner.com/article/allied-with-alec-washington-state-s-dirty-half-dozen

The bill passed out of committee Friday on a straight-line Republican vote with no Democratic support.

This is not a bill for the "little people." This is a cynically crafted bill which, if passed, would prohibit adjunct faculty from remaining in their current union. It exploits grievances and inequities to further a corporate agenda and break solidarity amongst all faculty.

pknuts

Posted Mon, Feb 10, 8:08 a.m. Inappropriate

Maybe I can provide a little history.
I was on the executive board of the Washington Federation of Teachers in the early 1960s, and editor of its state newspaper. The community colleges provided much of the best leadership then.
Later, I taught English for a few years, and won the case against the state that denied unemployment benefits for part-timers based on an absurd estimate of work time involved.
The present problem is determined by amount of money available. The more that tenured people make, the less available for part-timers, and the more part-timers make, the less available for the tenured.
So bottom line is that education, like most cheap-labor illegal and legal immigrant seeking businesses, is mostly interested in the benefits of abundantly available cheap labor.

Posted Mon, Feb 10, 1:55 p.m. Inappropriate

I think what also plays into this is the basic laws of supply and demand. Just because you managed to crank through the minefield of academia doesn't guarantee a high salary. Personally, yea, I believe that community college and 4-year school professors should be getting paid more than the code monkeys banging on keyboards over at Microsoft or Facebook, well, because they contribute more to society.

But, unfortunately I don't run the marketplace. So - a Phd in English or Philosophy generally merits mediocre pay - well, because it does.

Lily32

Posted Mon, Feb 10, 8:50 p.m. Inappropriate

Careers in education seem pretty laid back, and not too stressful. Even the code monkeys have Darwinism chasing them all the time so they can keep their jobs. Tenure doesn't exist in the code monkey world.

Posted Mon, Feb 10, 3:15 p.m. Inappropriate

I encourage folks to take a look at the Pay Equity Bill being advanced by the Colorado Conference of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). The bill - HB 1154 - cleared the House State Affairs committee last week.

The bill would eliminate the financial incentive to "crack" full time positions into multiple part-time positions, and provide equal pay for equal work. There'a strong case be made that addressing the pay equity issues on a legislative basis is a better way to deal with the problems cited by the authors than splitting bargaining units.

The motivation for this bill - and the move more broadly to split faculty with contingent appointments into separate bargaining units - is an exercise in (faulty) inductive reasoning, i.e. "Because ONE or SOME representatives/stewards/union(s) got it wrong [I'm making no comment about the particular details of Washington faculty unions here - I don't know the details well] re: balancing the interests of tenure/non-tenure eligible and/or full-time/part-time and/or tenured/contingent, ALL faculty bargaining units should be divided."

If that kind of reasoning is justified/useful/sound grounds for policy making, then we could easily look to recent success of combined tenured/tenure-eligible/non-tenure eligible/adjunct faculty unions (like United Academics at the University of Oregon, AAUP-AFT), or the California Faculty Association (representing ~24,000 educators at the 23 campuses of the California State University system), and make the claim that because these unions have been so successful at integrating the needs/demands/issues of different types of faculty appointments, faculty unions should ALWAYS include ALL faculty. I'll add: the evidence for this (inductively reasoned) claim is better: in the aggregate, it's always better for workers - regardless of labor type - to sort out our differences in the house of labor before pivoting to face Administrators or Managers.

We are one faculty - irrespective of whether some individuals fail to see as much in the short term - and we're only going to prevail in the broader assault on higher education to the extent that we figure out a way to work together to face our common problems/enemies, namely: systematic state (and federal) divestment in higher ed, and the massive growth of both the # and compensation of an Administrative class that fails to add value to higher education.

Posted Mon, Feb 10, 6:38 p.m. Inappropriate

As an adjunct, I have been involved in union leadership for a long time, and I have witnessed the actions of the writers of this article during most of that time. I can only conclude that this latest bill, and the others pushed by Mr. Hoeller and Mr. Longmate in the past, have little to do with trying to help part-time faculty get a fair shake. In fact, they have actively worked against bills that would benefit adjuncts with equal pay for equal work, job security in the sense that due process would have to be a part of not rehiring people, and on and on. When AFT or WEA sponsor bills like this, Mr. Hoeller and Mr. Longmate are right there speaking against them, or insisting that they and their organization be consulted on the implementation of the bill once it passes. And just what is the organization? Who knows! They are accountable to no-one, unlike the unions. Union leaders can be replaced. Just run against them and get more votes. But Mr. Hoeller, Mr, Longmate, Ms. Knudsen, and a small number of others were chosen by no one but themselves. Yet they go to Olympia claiming to represent part-time faculty across the state of Washington. Interesting--I don't know of one person who was asked to join the organization, vote for it's leadership, give input to the legislative goals, or have a chance to replace Mr. Hoeller as the leader of the group. I would never believe that ALEC has anything to do with this group. But the results of the group's actions are just as devasting as if ALEC were dictating the script.

astofer

Posted Tue, Feb 11, 10:21 p.m. Inappropriate

Scott Clifthorne claimed that we proponents of the bill were using faulty logic, hastily reasoning that since a few locals have gotten it wrong, all locals should be reformed. The logic for the bill is actually based on the inherent union structure, where the dominant tenured faculty and subordinate non-tenured part-time faculty with no job security, with discounted pay, are naively presumed to be equal union members. After 40 years of such unionism, part-timers are still temporary, probationary employees statewide. You’ve heard what Einstein says about those who keep on doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results.

I wish Annette Stofer and others would have commented about the substance of the bill instead of launching rather personal attacks.

A consequence of an established two-tiered employment system is that people become so socialized into its operation that the lack of equality for the lower tier is not questioned but assumed as the norm. To such a perspective, being granted space in a filing cabinet or maybe a 2 percent pay increase is considered a “success.” But just as fish may not realized it’s swimming in water, we may not realize the lack of equality that non-tenured faculty are deprived of.

Like it or not, non-tenured faculty are primary and integral to our community and technical college system. Shame on us if we pretend there is no problem that they are deprived of job security, receive poverty-level wages, and have no effective means to fight for their common interests because when they do, they may be face retaliation or be fired.

Jack Longmate
Adjunct English Instructor
Olympic College, Bremerton

Posted Wed, Feb 12, 6:32 p.m. Inappropriate

Until I read this board, I was a casual supporter of the idea of a separate union for part-timers. Now that I have read this board I am a militant supporter and will begin fighting for this in earnest.

Personal attacks, mud-slinging and patronizing directions to shut up and participate in the existing process are infuriating and insulting and make it abundantly clear that this movement is long overdue.

If you can’t speak respectfully to this idea on this board, I can’t imagine you would respect my ideas in person. The union is not inclusive and welcoming and not because (as implied on this board) because I – and others – have not tried to make the existing system work for us.

Mr. Knutson’s comments pretty much define the reason I can’t be in a union with someone like him and expect fairness and equality. His idea that efforts to provide a separate union for part-time faculty "destroys faculty solidarity" puzzles me since the current lack of solidarity is at the center of the drive for a separate union. Specifically, full-time faculty’s lack of solidarity in considering the interests of part-time faculty in contract negotiation. (Solidarity: unity (as of a group or class) that produces or is based on community of interests, objectives, and standards).

If you haven’t worked as an adjunct since 1996 you are out of touch with current conditions. The end. This ain’t the same railroad, and it’s changing faster than you can imagine and not for the better.

Congratulating yourself that the Seattle union voted to “distribute proposed pay increases equally” just demonstrates how out of touch you are with your adjunct colleagues. Fair isn’t always equal, and equal isn’t always fair. You minimize my concerns as if you have any idea what it is like to walk in my shoes. You don’t.

And for those of you who call this union-busting, I agree! Your union is corrupt. It will probably cease to exist because you don’t have the numbers to control everything if we have a place at the table too.
I say flush the whole system of tenure – especially in community colleges. It’s a ridiculous and antiquated notion that serves no useful purpose for society whatsoever.

2ndClass

Posted Mon, Feb 17, 8:48 a.m. Inappropriate

Our message is simple: It is a fundamental principle of the labor movement that workers should have the right to choose their own unions, and that the bargaining units should be composed of workers with a community of interests and devoid of conflicts of interest. Further, supervisors or managers should not be placed in the same units with the people they supervise.

This is national labor law in the private sector, and public sector labor law in nearly every state, including Washington--where only adjunct faculty are denied these rights. Under current state law, we do not have the right to "clarify the bargaining unit," or seek to have supervisors excluded because of the "one community college district, one union" rule.

Though our message has long been adopted by unions nationwide, several Seattle Community College faculty have refused to address our message. Instead, they have opted to discredit the messengers by making unfounded and false accusations.

Commentators have claimed we are "union-destroyers" and "union-busters," and we have failed to take advantage of the wonderful democratic procedures afforded to us by our unions. We are accused of being funded by the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Further, Astofer claims, "They have actively worked against bills that would benefit adjuncts with equal pay for equal work, job security in the sense that due process would have to be a part of not rehiring people, and on and on."

All of these accusations are false and they underscore our point that mixed units cannot provide "fair representation" to the adjunct faculty who form the majority of professors at each and every community college in the state.

khoeller

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