Part-time professors to get better pay, job security

From The Boston Globe:


Most part-time professors at Tufts University will get a 22 percent pay raise over the next three years and improved job security under a new contract that could influence negotiations at other schools in the Boston area and beyond where adjunct faculty have recently organized or are considering doing so.

The Tufts deal, a three-year agreement ratified Friday after receiving approval from more than 95 percent of the roughly 200 adjunct teachers, will also keep an existing arrangement where professors who teach at least three courses over the course of an academic year are eligible for health, retirement, tuition reimbursement, and other employee benefits, according to union officials.

Other improvements to working conditions include: first notice and a guaranteed interview for full-time openings; a revamped performance evaluation process; and the establishment of a $25,000-a-year fund that will pay adjunct faculty up to $500 a year to undergo professional development related to teaching.

“Previously, we had some benefits and advantages to working at the university, but they were not protected at all,”said Andy Klatt, who has taught Spanish and translation part-time at Tufts for 18 years and helped lead the unionization and negotiation efforts. “Now we have an agreement and some security.”

 The contract goes into effect Jan. 1.

Part-time faculty members will generally receive at least a one-year appointment, though the university can hire teachers on a per-semester basis in certain cases, including to cover a sabbatical or leave of absence.

Lecturers with more than four years of service will receive two-year appointments, if approved through a performance review process. Those with more than eight years of service will be eligible for three-year appointments, the maximum length available to part-timers.

Previously, part-time faculty were never appointed for more than one year.

About 16 percent of Tufts adjuncts, who currently are the lowest paid, will receive a 43 percent raise over three years; another 19 percent of adjuncts, who are currently the highest paid, will receive cost-of-living increases during that span, officials said.

The remaining two-thirds of part-time professors, whose current pay falls between that of the other two groups, will receive a 22 percent raise over three years.

By September 2016, the final year of the contract, all Tufts part-time faculty will make at least $7,300 per course, and those with more than eight years of service will earn at least $8,760 per course, officials said.

Previously, faculty were paid as low as $5,115 per course, and even those with the most seniority were paid as low as $6,138 per course.

Professors will also now receive additional compensation for work outside the classroom — including advising, mentoring, and independent studies. And, if the university cancels a course taught by a faculty member who is on a three-year appointment, the professor will still be fully compensated; professors with shorter appointments will receive $750.

Tufts spokeswoman Kimberly Thurler said the contract “successfully balances the needs and priorities of the lecturers and the university.”

“The contract resolved important issues involving course assignments, compensation and security and strengthened the avenues for evaluation and accountability for performance,” she said via e-mail.

The contract ratification marked a major milestone for a campaign that has organized part-time faculty at two other Boston area colleges and that is pushing for professors at several other area institutions to unionize in an effort to improve their pay, benefits, and overall working conditions.

The Service Employees International Union launched a national effort a year-and-a-half ago to organize adjunct faculty at campuses across the country, including around Boston.

Read the full story online here.