Archive for March 25, 2013

Tell us how your college or university is responding to the Affordable Care Act

If you are adjunct faculty at an Ohio college or university who has received an email, a letter Screen Shot 2013-03-25 at 3.49.14 PMor some other communication informing you of your institution’s policy regarding the number of credit hours you will be permitted to teach in the future, we invite you to forward that information to the Ohio Part-Time Faculty Association by emailing us at optfa@newfacultymajority.info.

The communication from your institution may or may not admit that the information being shared is in response to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which mandates that as of Jan. 1, 2014, large employers must provide health insurance for employees who work 30 hours per week or more.

But the fact is that colleges and universities throughout the country are cutting the workloads of adjuncts in response to this new regulation, and their actions are contrary to the intent of the new law.

Determining work hours for adjunct faculty

Determining work hours presents another problem. A recent IRS ruling has determined “that failing to take into account grading and prep is not reasonable” when it comes to adding up employee hours.

Yet when calculating the number of hours that adjunct faculty spend in preparation for their courses and in grading student work, some institutions are applying a formula that is inappropriately standardized, according to Maria Maisto, president of New Faculty Majority.

For all of these reasons, the OPTFA is collecting information about the response of Ohio institutions to the ACA. And we will take that data with us to Washington, D.C. for the April 23 hearing on this issue held by the IRS and the Treasury Department.

Ohio institutions respond to the ACA

ysu memoInitially, five Ohio institutions, Youngstown State UniversityStark State College in North Canton, Lakeland Community College in Kirtland, Baldwin Wallace University and Kent State University, acted to limit the number of classes adjuncts can teach in order to ensure that the schools will not be mandated to provide health insurance for adjunct faculty. And other institutions are working to formulate a response to the ACA.

Additional institutions, the University of Akron and Cuyahoga Community College, have also communicated their intent to limit the number of courses adjunct faculty can teach, beginning in fall 2013.

Adjuncts at Stark State received a memo in which they were told that “in order to avoid penalties under the Affordable Care Act…employees with part-time or adjunct status will not be assigned more than an average of 29 hours per week.”

YSU is restricting part-time employees, including adjunct professors and lecturers, to 29 hours a week or less, according to an email sent to English department adjuncts. That translates to a maximum of a 12-credit course load per academic year.

As of July 1, part-time faculty loads at Lakeland will be adjusted “to comply with the requirements of the act,” according to a March 19, 2013, email sent to part-time faculty. And Kent State, where 65 percent of classes are taught by adjunct faculty, is limiting part-timers to 29 credits per academic year.

Baldwin-Wallace, which employs as many as 225 adjuncts a semester, held a recent meeting for department chairs at which the institutional response to the ACA was shared. As a result, adjuncts who teach in the English Department received a March 27 email stating that as of this fall, adjuncts will be limited to teaching “no more than 3 composition sections each semester…as a result of the coming of Obamacare, which requires that employers provide health benefits for any employees working 30 hours a week or more.”

At Sinclair Community College in Dayton, administrators estimate that health care costs could increase by up to $4.2 million if they provide health care benefits to the 423 part-time employees, including 191 adjuncts, who could qualify for coverage, according to the Dayton Daily News.

Other colleges around the state are seeking legal advice about how they should respond to ACA mandates. Cleveland State and the Northeast Ohio Medical University are among 11 tax-supported universities statewide that have asked the state attorney general to assign special counsel for health care, according to a recent story in the Akron Beacon Journal.

IRS collects public comments, will hold hearing; media respond

The Department of the Treasury and the IRS collected 380 comments on the issue of Shared Responsibility for Employers Regarding Health Coverage (REG-138006-12) and will hold an April 23, 2013, public hearing on the matter as well, at which OPTFA and NFM will present the data we collect. A comment from David Wilder, Co-Chair of the Organizing Committee of OPTFA and comments from NFM were among the 380 collected.

Counting Adjuncts’ Hours,” a March 26 story in Inside Higher Ed, reported on two different proposals for counting faculty work hours. The American Council on Education, representing the nation’s nonprofit and public colleges, wants the work of adjuncts compared to that of non-tenure-track faculty. NFM argues that the fairer comparison is between tenure-track faculty and adjuncts because the latter often advise students and provide service to the institution.

An essay published in Inside Higher Ed on the same day asserts that, “More than two-thirds of the faculty providing instruction in nonprofit higher education are currently employed off the tenure track, and their numbers continue to rise.”

The authors call upon institutions to create new solutions to the problem of part-time and non-tenure-track faculty, because “our failure to acknowledge and address the changing faculty, we have made it unnecessarily difficult for a majority of the faculty to do their jobs.”

And in “Emotional Labor and Ethical Hiring Practices in Academia,” Gwendolyn Beetham makes a plea for ethical practices in academic hiring.

Ohio colleges’ and universities’ written responses to adjunct faculty about the Affordable Care Act
Updated 26 March 2013
Updated 27 March 2013
Updated 15 April 2013

Get connected: Attend OPTFA meeting on either March 24 or 27

There is a lot going on in the state of Ohio regarding adjunct issues. Come to one of our March meetings to get connected with your colleagues, and get updates about the latest advocacy activity in our state.

OPTFA March Meetings

  • Sunday, March 24, 6 p.m. In person
  • Wednesday, March 27, noon. In person and online

See details below and RSVP to optfa@newfacultymajority.info.

Review the agenda.
In Person Meeting Details:

Location: the new office of New Faculty Majority and the OPTFA. The address is Copley Commons, 2830 Copley Rd., Suite 26, Copley, Ohio 44321.

RSVP: to optfa@newfacultymajority.info

March 27 Online Meeting Details:

1.  Please join my meeting, Mar 27, 2013 at 12:00 PM EDT.

https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/596239829

2.  Use your microphone and speakers (VoIP) – a headset is recommended. Or, call in using your telephone.

Dial +1 (773) 897-3018

Access Code: 596-239-829

Audio PIN: Shown after joining the meeting

Meeting ID: 596-239-829

Watch, comment on PBS broadcast on faculty

The PBS NewsHour story on faculty retirements and contingent faculty that aired last night is now available for viewing online.

The story included brief commentary about the plight of adjunct faculty, including footage of adjunct faculty member Joe Fruscione of the University of Maryland and George Washington University.

Afterward, this comment was posted by Paul Solman of PBS NewsHour:

“We were well aware of the process of “adjunctification” in higher education, regardless of age. That is a different story, one we very much intend to do. We have been corresponding with Maria Maisto about it. In fact, the correspondents in this thread may be of help. We found it difficult to find adjuncts willing to talk to us on camera. Joe, your cooperation made you a rare bird. Many we contacted were afraid of jeopardizing their already tenuous positions. Understandably. But this may a good venue for asking particularly “exploited” adjuncts to let us know if they are willing to be interviewed for the story we’re researching. To any of you who are willing: please contact us at businessdesk@newshour.org.”

 

PBS NewsHour focuses on faculty, contingent faculty tonight

There will be a PBS NewsHour story tonight on faculty retirements and contingent facultypbs newshour experiences.  Tune in and respond to the story — if PBS sees strong interest in the subject, they may do an additional story focused only on contingent faculty.

Contact:

PBS NewsHour
Producer: MacNeil/Lehrer Productions
2700 South Quincy Street #250
Arlington, VA 22206
(703) 998-2138

Or post a comment via the PBS Viewer Services page.

Local stations with signals in Ohio include:

Watch full episodes online.

OPTFA and NFM support proposed state legislation to give adjunct faculty collective bargaining rights

Media Release

For Immediate Release

National and State Part-time Faculty Leaders Applaud
Introduction of New Legislation Facilitating Collective Bargaining for College Instructors in Ohio

Unionization will help students by improving the working conditions of their instructors, say faculty leaders

Contact:  David Wilder, Co-chair, OPTFA Organizing Committee (216-751-1278) or Maria Maisto, President, New Faculty Majority (216-262-4375)

Legislation introduced in the Ohio state legislature March 8, which would institute collective bargaining rights for adjunct faculty and graduate students, has the strong support  of New Faculty Majority (NFM), a national, nonprofit advocacy group for adjunct faculty, as well as the newly forming Ohio Part-Time Faculty Association (OPTFA).

Rep. Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) and Senator Nina Turner (D-Cleveland) introduced identical legislation, House Bill 96 and Senate Bill 65, in an effort to give so-called “part-time” or “adjunct” faculty and graduate student employees the same right to negotiate their working conditions as full-time professors.

Current Ohio law does not recognize part-time faculty and graduate students as public employees for the purpose of collective bargaining.  This means that part-time faculty who wish to negotiate the conditions of their own employment may not petition the labor board to conduct an election to decide the question of union representation.  They also may not seek relief from the labor board if the public employer engages in unlawful practices.  That would change if the legislation introduced by Strahorn and Turner is approved.

Turner said she sees adjunct faculty as “a pivotal part of the fabric of higher education” who “need a seat at the table to ensure that they’re being treated fairly.”

Strahorn agreed, particularly since colleges and universities around the state rely on part-time faculty to teach as much as 80 percent of courses offered.

“Adjuncts and graduate assistants deserve to have the same rights as full time professors, especially with colleges and universities relying more heavily on these part time employees,” he said. “It is not fair or right to have these disparities in working conditions and benefits for people who do the same kind of work.”

The legislation Strahorn and Turner introduced simply says that part-time faculty should no longer be excluded from collective bargaining if they choose to organize for that purpose.

The legislation was lauded by Maria Maisto, a part-time faculty member at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, who co-founded and now leads New Faculty Majority and its affiliated Foundation, national nonprofit associations that seek to improve the quality of higher education by improving the working conditions of the majority of its faculty.

“Research demonstrates that students are more successful when they have faculty who are respected and whose working conditions are professional,” Maisto said. “Under the current model in Ohio, so-called ‘part-time’ faculty work has been transformed into full-time work for less-than part-time pay, and adjunct faculty are denied access to the basic tools and working conditions of their profession, such as computers, office space and access to health insurance, that the public would expect institutions to provide to faculty. It is women, people over the age of 45, and minorities who comprise the majority of this workforce. The least we can do for these educators is facilitate their ability to negotiate their own working conditions.”

David Wilder, who teaches at Cuyahoga Community College and John Carroll University and serves as co-chair of the organizing committee of the newly forming Ohio Part-Time Faculty Association, said, “We want equal protection under the law. We want equal pay for equal work. Like all workers, we need to open up the legal space to bargain collectively so we can begin to address the deterioration of pay and conditions that we all face. We will no longer accept being treated as nonentities, having no recognition granted to those we may choose as our representatives. Above all, we are serious about the work we do, and we intend to restore professional standards to higher education. Our poor working conditions are our students’ learning conditions.”

“Ohio’s colleges and universities have had decades to prove that faculty unions are not necessary, and frankly, they’ve failed,”  noted NFM’s vice president, Matt Williams, a former adjunct faculty member at the University of Akron.

NFM has helped to launch the new Ohio Part-time Faculty Association, connecting adjunct professors from Cleveland, Akron, Canton, Columbus, Dayton, Cincinnati, Youngstown and Toledo thus far.

NFM and OPTFA leaders pointed out that the legislation would ultimately help to improve the academic and ethical quality of higher education, which could increase the value of college degrees in Ohio, a point of concern given skyrocketing tuition and student debt.

“Collective bargaining requires institutions to be more transparent and accountable for their financial decisions, and it’s time Ohio citizens knew how public colleges and universities are prioritizing how they spend students’ ever-increasing tuition payments,” Williams said.

Adjuncts typically earn an average annualized salary of $21,600 for teaching the maximum number of classes that research has shown to be acceptable without damaging the quality of education being offered.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, people with equivalent education, responsibility and experience average $65,000 per year.

Read more

Adjuncts learn how to apply for unemployment at March 20 webinar

Adjuncts learn how to apply for unemployment at March 20 webinar

Please register for Applying for Unemployment Compensation in Ohio: A How-to for Adjunct Faculty, a free webinar scheduled for Wednesday, March 20, 2013, at noon EDT.

To register, visit:

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8006273487003863296

This webinar will explain how adjunct faculty can apply for unemployment compensation in between academic terms and how to contest college and university attempts to appeal awards.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

This event is co-sponsored by the New Faculty Majority Foundation and the Ohio Part-time Faculty Association.

State legislators introduce bill that would give adjuncts collective bargaining rights

Today, Rep. Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) and Sen. Nina Turner (D-Cleveland) introduced Nina Turnercompanion legislation that would grant collective bargaining rights to adjunct faculty and graduate students.

There is nothing in current Ohio law that compels a public institution of higher learning to deal with a union as the representative of its part-time faculty. That would change if the legislation introduced today, House Bill 96 and Senate Bill 65, is approved.

Turner said she sees adjunct faculty as “a pivotal part of the fabric of higher education” who “need a seat at the table to ensure that they’re being treated fairly.”

“Adjuncts and graduate assistants deserve to have the same rights as full time professors, especially with colleges and universities relying more heavily on these part time employees,” Strahorn said. “It is not fair or right to have these disparities in working conditions and benefits for people who do the same kind of work.”

The legislation introduced today simply says that part-time faculty should no longer be excluded from collective bargaining if they so choose.

strahornAccording to a statement on Strahorn’s website, “adjunct faculty members are the back bone of many of our colleges and universities. With more schools depending on part-time faculty to teach the same courses as full time professors, the passage of this bill would send a clear message that the state believes in fundamental fairness and that we value the contributions of our entire teaching faculty at our institutions of higher learning.”

Strahorn was one of a group of representatives who introduced a similar bill, HB 468, in the 127th General Assembly in February of 2008. Other sponsors included Reps. Brown, DeBose, Lundy, Miller, Oelslager, Skindell and S. Williams.

At a Faculty-Legislator exchange in late February 2009 that was sponsored by the Ohio Conference AAUP, Representative Kathleen Chandler promised to revive the legislation after being petitioned by two part-time faculty members at the University of Akron.

Publicizing ACA’s effects on adjuncts is priority for OPTFA

The Ohio Part-Time Faculty Association held two meetings in February, on Sunday, Feb. 24, and Wednesday, Feb. 27. If you couldn’t make it to either meeting and would like to know what happened, here are some key points:

  • A high priority will be efforts to help publicize the effects of the Affordable Care Act for adjunct course-loads around the state. See News page for more about this issue.
  • Another priority item is to put more pressure on religiously-affiliated colleges and universities to support adjunct organizing efforts, and/or unionization efforts—as these institutions are not covered by state laws that preclude recognition of such efforts on behalf of adjuncts.
  • New committees were established:
    • Communications Committee, chaired by Kitt. Will establish media plan that includes promotional materials, media releases, possible YouTube video.
    • Bylaws Committee, chaired by Evan. Will draft Mission Statement that includes membership status.
  • Election of officers will be held by April 30.F
  • OPTFA has established social media accounts:

Get the full February 2013 Meeting Report and our schedule of meetings and other events.

Kasich’s budget bill would add to faculty workload

If Governor John Kasich’s proposed 2013 budget (HB 59) passes, boards at public institutions of higher education would have the right to modify college faculty workload policy, requiring all full-time faculty to teach an additional course in one of the next two academic years.

The increased workload would then become the “new minimum for faculty members to maintain,” according to a March 4 Inside Higher Ed article, thus allowing boards to ignore workload provisions in faculty union contracts.

The bill, whch includes a number of other provisions related to higher education, still requires approval by both houses of the General Assembly. Republicans control both the Ohio House and Senate.

The Ohio Conference of AAUP has issued a statement against the provision and plans to partner with like-minded organizations to have the offending language removed from the buget.

Locate your state representative or senator to communicate about this issue or any other.

Kent State lecturer let go after creating successful program

Gene Sasso left a longtime career in public relations to take a non-tenure-track teaching position at Kent State University, where he helped create a hugely successful online PR master’s program. It enrolled more than 260 students and generated more than $6 million in revenue, according to a Feb. 26 story in Inside Higher Ed.

Sasso, whose name still appears in the faculty directory, says he was “flabbergasted” when he was told he would not be rehired for the 2013-2014 academic year. He was given no reason.

Faculty in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, led by PR professor Bill Sledzik and backed by the university’s tenure-track unit of AAUP, protested Sasso’s dismissal — to no avail. The school’s director, Thor Wasbotten, (thor@kent.edu) refused to allow Sasso’s upcoming three-year review to proceed, a move that would have required the university to give a reason for not renewing his contract.

Deborah C. Smith, the grievance and arbitration chair for Kent’s AAUP, said the university erred by not consulting faculty before refusing to renew Sasso’s contract.
The story has attracted attention from The Adjunct Project, which reported that Seth Kahn, a tenured faculty member and adjunct advocate at West Chester University, wrote a letter to Kent State University President Lester Lefton. Kahn “called on KSU either to renew Professor Sasso for another year, or to issue a clear and public explanation for the university’s refusal to do so.”