Archive for Legislators

An invitation to tell your story to Congress

Note: The deadline for sharing your adjunct story with Congress has been extended to Monday, Jan. 6, 2014.

Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) has followed up on what he told Maria Maisto, president of New Faculty Majority, he would do at the Nov. 14 House Committee on Education and the Workforce

Screen Shot 2013-11-20 at 11.10.41 AM hearing on “The Effects of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on Schools, Colleges, and Universities” at which she testified last week: begin deeper investigation into adjunct faculty working conditions by collecting stories and information through an e-forum.

Rep. Miller, the senior Democratic member on the committee, has set up an eForum on the Working Conditions of Contingent Faculty in Higher Education and is asking adjunct faculty to submit their stories by Dec. 20. This is a tremendous opportunity to share stories about your experiences as a contingent faculty member, including working conditions, compensation, benefits, opportunities for growth and advancement, job stability, and administrative and professional support. Rep. Miller is also interested in your views concerning how these conditions affect your career, your students and higher education in general.

Please submit your stories and circulate this information far and wide so that we can continue to educate our national leaders about the urgent need for action on the contingent faculty crisis.

Comments or excerpts sent may be posted on the Education and Workforce Democrats website in the coming weeks, submitted to the congressional record, and/or used in a report issued by Education and Workforce Democrats on any findings from the eForum. Names of individuals submitting comments will not be published without permission, according to the website.

The media release issued by Rep. Miller’s office on Nov. 19 is copied below.

Miller Announces eForum on Adjunct Faculty in Higher Education

WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), senior Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, today announced an eForum to investigate how an increased reliance on contingent faculty by colleges and universities nationwide has impacted the lives of faculty as well as students’ higher education.

“This eForum is an opportunity for adjuncts and other contingent faculty to inform the Congress about what’s happening on the ground with higher education. I think there is a huge lack of understanding of what it means to be in the adjunct world,” said Rep. Miller. Rep. Miller raised the idea of an internet forum for receiving adjuncts’ stories and comments at a committee hearing last week.

“We should all be alarmed about what’s been happening to higher education labor over the last couple decades,” Rep. Miller later elaborated. “Tuition keeps skyrocketing.  Yet the people doing the bulk of the work educating college students are getting less and less compensation. There are adjuncts who make between $2000 and $3000 per course for a semester, with no benefits.  There are adjuncts on food stamps. I think the Congress should be taking a serious look at this phenomenon.”

In the last 40 years, there has been a spike in the number of adjunct faculty at colleges and universities as schools look for ways to cut costs. According to some estimates, approximately 75 percent of instructional faculty members are off the tenure track, with the number of part-time faculty increasing at three times the rate of full-time faculty members over the last 15 years. The average contingent faculty makes approximately $2900 per course, approximately 60 percent less than comparable full-time tenure track and tenured faculty, according to the Adjunct Project. Furthermore, only about 22 percent of part-time faculty members are provided some form of benefits.

The purpose of the eForum is to assess the impact of this growing use of contingent faculty.  Rep. Miller is interested in hearing from adjunct and other contingent faculty about their job satisfaction and working conditions, and how those conditions affect the state of higher education in this nation.

The eForum can be found on the Committee Democrats website at: http://democrats.edworkforce.house.gov/eforum

State Sen. Turner contacts ODJFS about unemployment compensation concerns

State Senator Nina Turner has sent a letter to Michael Colbert, director of the Ohio Department of State Senator Nina TurnerJob and Family Services, asking him to address “inconsistent judgments in claims for unemployment benefits” for part-time faculty in the state.

In her letter dated Sept. 30, 2013, Turner maintains that “the main challenge arises from the lack of a clear, workable definition of what constitutes a ‘reasonable assurance’ of employment, as mentioned in Section 4141.29(I)(1) of the Ohio Revised Code.”

Nina Turner letter

As a result, one adjunct faculty member at a university can find his unemployment claim approved, while his colleague, teaching under the same insecure conditions, has hers denied, even after filing appeals.

Some fight every claim; others don’t

Some colleges and universities in the state do not fight the unemployment compensation claims of adjunct faculty. Others, such as the University of Akron, fight every claim that is filed.

This term, UA’s human resources department provided its vice presidents, deans and chairs with a “Reasonable Assurance Memo,” warning them that “failure to give timely reasonable assurance of employment for the next semester can lead to the loss of valued faculty and increased unemployment charges to the department.”

UA’s characterization of the offer of a class for the next term as “reasonable assurance,” is disingenuous, as any class could be cancelled or reassigned to a full-time faculty member due to lack of enrollment.

UA’s definition — and some Ohio Department of Job and Family Services rulings regarding part-time faculty’s eligibility for unemployment compensation — are contrary to information disseminated by ODJFS. One publication, which Sen. Turner cited in her letter, states:

Regardless of whether you are a professional or nonprofessional, if the offer of work is contingent upon sufficient funding or enrollment, you would not have reasonable assurance for the next school year or term.

Help with your unemployment compensation claim