The George Washington University (GWU) in
Washington, DC, and union representing part-time faculty at the institution have
agreed on a contract that union members ratified last Friday. The agreement is
GWU’s first contract with its part-time faculty. Anne McLeer, the director of
research and strategic planning for local 500 of the Service Employees International
Union (SEIU), tells Science Careers that 89 percent of those voting ratified
the agreement, which went into effect on 1 January and runs until 30 June 2010.
The contract applies to regular faculty working
part-time, those paid per course, and a few specialized hires. The agreement
raises pay for regular part-time faculty, who get a $2,500 raise to a minimum of
$21,000 per year. Faculty compensated per course get a $550 raise for each 3-4
credit hour class and a $330 increase for 1-2 credit courses. Those teaching
non-standard or skills courses get a $100 raise.
The union, also negotiated improvements in job
security for part-time faculty. Under the new agreement the part-time faculty
can be fired when departments are eliminated or downsized, the courses they
teach are discontinued, or their job performance is inadequate. Now, GWU must
demonstrate just cause — defined as substantial evidence of wrong doing — to
discipline or discharge part-time faculty. The contract includes union
representation on disciplinary matters and a grievance procedure, with binding
arbitration by a third party, if the union or faculty member believes just-cause
was not established.
The agreement adds benefits for part-time faculty,
including supplemental retirement, medical leaves of absence applicable under
the Family Medical Leave Act, and public transportation reimbursement. While
health benefits were not extended to faculty paid per-course, both sides agreed
to jointly study the issue and bargain further. McLeer says the joint
labor/management committee studying the issue will meet no later than March.
Unions representing part-time faculty are not
unknown on American campuses; examples include Portland State University in Oregon that negotiated an
agreement in 2005 and University of Rhode Island. One aspect of the GWU agreement
that’s different from the others is the union representing the part-time
faculty. The SEIU generally represents blue-collar workers in the
service economy, such as those found in health care, office cleaning, and
security. On other campuses, you often find the traditional educational unions
representing faculty: American Federation of Teachers, National Education
Association, and American Association of University Professors.
Hat tip: Inside Higher Ed