SFAI VF Union Biweekly Update 1/23


In this update:

  • Next VF Assembly
  • Bargaining Update for Bargaining Session on 1/16/15
  • SFAI Visiting Faculty Action Team Report
  • St. Mary’s College and Dominican University Win Union Elections!
  • Calendar


Biweekly SFAI Union Update

The Biweekly SFAI Union Update goes out every other week. The goal of these updates is to communicate the latest news and events with the entire SFAI membership in order to foster an informed and transparent union culture.

Visiting Faculty Assembly

We continue to make our decisions by assembly. All visiting faculty are invited. The next assembly will discuss how we will respond to administration’s rejection of our contract proposals (see below), and actions in support of the contract campaign:

            Visiting Faculty Assembly
            5-7 pm, Tues. Jan 27
            447 29th St., Oakland (near Telegraph)

Call in option for Assembly: The dial-in # is 877-336-1839.  The access code for everyone is 3853544.


Bargaining Update for Bargaining Session on 1/16/15


Bullet point summary:


o   There is some openness to VF being part of curriculum design; SFAI says they're not open to shared governance

o   SFAI is open to a kill fee for courses that are cancelled  

o   SFAI is open to directed study

o   SFAI is open to compensation for a small sum for work on committees -thesis, MFA

o   SFAI is Ok with proposed tier system but wants “up or out” after each tier; denomination of adjuncts: mostly lecturers

o   SFAI counter proposals:

·      If one does not do well in the first two years (tier 1), termination occurs

·      No benefits

·      No strike clause

·      Exclusion of adjuncts from tenure-track appointments

·      No professional development fund

·      Adjuncts not included in the process of course evaluations


The Visiting Faculty bargaining team met with the administration for the first time since we submitted all the proposals for our contract. And as promised the administration came back to us with a response to the majority of our proposals. They did not, however, respond to the biggest financial question regarding salaries. This is fairly standard for negotiations– to leave the big financial issues to later.


The bargaining session was cordial and the administration responded to our questions and comments in such a way as to leave open some areas of dispute for further discussion. In general the bargaining team felt that the administration thought about the concerns expressed by the Visiting Faculty and came some way towards meeting some of those concerns, but made no movement in other areas of concern. Below is a summary of the state of the bargaining.


We submitted a total of 24 proposals dealing with all our concerns. Some of these are basic contractual language and the administration and the bargaining team agreed, with a little word-smithing back and forth on these points.


But a few of these broader contractual issues had particular sticking points. When there is a disagreement the bargaining team asked questions in order to help us understand the concerns and help in crafting a counter proposal. In the article covering recognition of the union it was the administration’s contention that what they called Distinguished Visitors should be excluded from the union contract. The administration went on to define Distinguished Visitors. It was the bargaining team’s concern that this doesn’t become a

loophole to call everyone a Distinguished Visitor.


The administration rejected union leave and activities, but on questioning it seemed that there was a misunderstanding on this issue, with the administration thinking we were asking for leave for a day or a week, whereas we are asking for leave for an extended time to work (for example on organizing other schools) and still be able to come back to SFAI at the end of that time without losing job security.


The administration rejected a proposed Labor Management Committee whose goal would be to meet and talk about problems that exist before they become an issue for arbitration. This was a pattern that was followed in all our proposals asking for more say in the way the school operates. They also rejected our proposals for union presence at faculty orientations. They rejected our proposal for an increased role in institutional service. In cases where we asked for more voice in how SFAI is run they were rejected. But they weren’t opposed to further discussions. And when the administration said that enrollment in the MA program was down, our team made the point that visiting faculty could be a helpful ally in recruiting… that sharing some power also means utilizing all of SFAI’s resources. The administration seemed genuinely to be concerned about trying to get MA student numbers up. The administration asked for more specific and “more modest” proposals for shared service.


They asked that we consolidate evaluations, an area in which we had a substantial proposal, with job security. For the most part they rejected our evaluations proposal, but they left in place some language about student evaluations and notification to Visiting Faculty if there is a problem raised.


On these and other issues that were rejected we will make counterproposals. And on the issues that the administration made some movement on, we will also make counterproposals. We did not agree to anything substantial at this point.


The biggest movement on the part of the administration was in proposing a three tiered system of employment for Visiting Faculty. Their proposal offers a four semester timeline between tiers. These tiers offered separate pay categories and job titles. The problem of moving through those tiers and how faculty who have already taught for some time will be placed within the tiers is where some of the sticking points are. The administration wants to propose a nomination system and still only hire on a semester by semester basis for the first two tiers. The third tier would offer a longer three year contract. The administration said that they assume most faculty would end up staying in the second tier.


In the area of other benefits they countered our health and benefits proposal by saying they would do what was required by law. Since SFAI has only last semester begun to comply with San Francisco City ordinances regarding health care, we can assume that this is the extent of the counter offer. It is important to note that this measure only applies to   those teaching 2 or more courses and does not guarantee any year-long continuity or protection if a class gets cancelled.


 They didn’t like the idea of giving Visiting Faculty any money for a professional development grant fund, or setting aside an amount for guest lecturers and classroom expenses. The bargaining team did feel that we could give a counterproposal that had more clarity in our position. They agreed to a set of stipends for different services, offering to pay a set amount of $250 for various programs, MFA thesis review and others. They agreed that this list could be expanded based on our input. They also offered some very small amount as compensation for courses canceled within 14 days of the start of class. The amount is equivalent to a single class session payment.


The entire document is now 45 pages or so… therefore a lot is not included here. As you can tell we have a lot of work to do in order to make counter proposals and your input and presence at meetings to discuss the most vital points is crucial. The bargaining team is eager to move forward and create a contract that we can all be happy with.



Action Team Report

The Visiting Faculty Action Team has several parallel projects planned, to raise awareness about our union contract negotiations and win serious gains for contingent faculty at SFAI.

o   Bargaining Priorities and Faculty Stability. The Action Team is getting ready to launch a poster campaign that highlights our bargaining priorities and centers attention around Faculty Stability, which is the most pressing issue for the majority of Visiting Faculty. The goal of the camping is to educate SFAI faculty, staff, and students about our demands and remind visiting faculty what we are fighting for. Be on the lookout for these beautiful posters around campus in the following weeks.


o   Petition to save Urban Studies. The Action Team has started to gather signatures against the ‘suspension’ of urban studies, via an open letter that states that

·      There was little transparency in the decision making process

·      Low enrollment is not the key issue

·      Courses taught by local bay area activists are being cancelled

·      Urban issues are key for the 21st century and most colleges are investing more and more resources in such programs

Below is the link to the full text where you can sign and circulate the open letter on social media- we are gathering international support!!




o   2/25/15 National Adjunct Day of Action. On February 25, 2015 adjuncts across the country will come together to insist on fair wages and better working conditions. SFAI Visiting Faculty will stand in solidarity with adjuncts across the country and participate in the day of action. Our plans will be announced soon. Come to our assembly and help plan the action!


As you may know, last semester saw a renewal of student activism on campus. Students spoke up for their concerns at Faculty Senate meetings. SFAI staff, represented by OPEIU, also engaged in struggle with SFAI through union negotiations, and students supported the staff’s campaign. In support of these events, the Visiting Faculty initiated a solidarity petition that addressed the issues of all SFAI community members, including students, staff, visiting faculty and tenured faculty. With over 150 signatures in just two weeks, the petition was delivered to SFAI administration during the last Faculty Senate meetings of Fall 2014. We also provided a report on students’ concerns compiled from what they reported to us at our SFAI social events. This semester, we intend to keep building momentum and support for each other. More details to come!

To be part of these organizing activities and get involved, contact the SFAI Visiting Faculty Action Team at vfaaction@gmail.com.

St. Mary’s College and Dominican University Win Union Elections!

We are excited to announce that the adjuncts at St. Mary’s College and Dominican University voted to unionize with SEIU local 1021, joining SFAI, Mills College, and CCA! That makes 5 new union schools in 2014 for the Bay Area! For more info, visit http://adjunctactionbayarea-seiu1021.nationbuilder.com/



Visiting Faculty Assembly

Tuesday, January 27, 5-7 pm, SEIU office, 447 29th St., Oakland


SEIU Local 1021 Metro Adjunct Organizing Meeting

Friday, January 30, 2-5 pm, SEIU Office, 447 29th St. Oakland


SEIU/SFAI Bargaining Session

Thursday, February 5, 9 am -12 pm, SEIU office, 447 29th St., Oakland

In Solidarity,

The SFAI Bargaining Team, Action Team, and Assembly Secretaries