Tag Archive for adjunct

Join adjunct activist Joe Berry in Cleveland tomorrow

Dear Colleagues,

Joe Berry, labor historian, renowned adjunct faculty activist and author of Reclaiming the Ivory Tower: Organizing Adjuncts to Change Higher Education, will be in Cleveland TOMORROW, Saturday, Sept. 6, for a meeting with the OPTFA Organizing Committee to discuss adjunct organizing here in Ohio, particularly the effort to launch a metro-wide organizing strategy in Northeast Ohio.

Joe Berry

Joe Berry

Given recent organizing activity on many campuses across our region, we would like to open this meeting to any interested contingent faculty members in the area.  With momentum building here and across the country, NOW is the time to join with colleagues committed to improving higher education by transforming the working conditions of contingent faculty.

The agenda will be:

  • To explain the metro organizing strategy and to learn how to make it work most effectively, including by building coalitions that include multiple colleges and organizations
  • To plan a metro organizing meeting to take place a month from now
  • To report on plans for a Cleveland-focused Campus Equity Week action in late October

Please send us an email at info@newfacultymajority.info if you are interested in coming to the meeting on Saturday from 1 – 4 pm.  If you can only come for part of the time, that’s fine! We have a location near Hopkins Airport but may have to change it to accommodate larger numbers of people, so please RSVP asap so we can finalize the number of attendees and location.

Again, please let us know asap if you are available to meet with Joe TOMORROW, Saturday, from 1-4 pm by sending an email to info@newfacultymajority.info. with your name, email and phone number(s). Please indicate if we can text you.

David Wilder (Tri-C, John Carroll U) and April Freely (U Akron, Lakeland CC)
Co-Chairs, OPTFA Organizing Committee

Maria Maisto  (Tri-C), Member, OPTFA Organizing Committee; President/Executive Director, New Faculty Majority Foundation

Adjunct issues receive media attention

Two hits for adjuncts on Monday, Feb. 3: a story in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Adjuncts Gain Traction With Congressional Attention,” and another on NPR’s All Things Considered titled “Part-Time Professors Demand Higher Pay; Will Colleges Listen?

The NPR story by Claudio Sanchez featured the adjunct situation in Ohio, specifically at the University of Akron and Cuyahoga Community College. And the Chronicle story will be followed up with a Chronicle Chat on adjunct issues on Wednesday, Feb. 5, at 2 p.m. Visit the page to participate in the chat and submit your questions.

Meanwhile, Monday’s stories, which quoted adjunct leaders from OPTFA and New Faculty Majority, prompted messages of support around the Web. Here are just a few:

  • I’m glad the issues of adjunct justice are finally reaching the wider media as they’ve so closely touched our lives and the lives of many colleagues and friends.
  • Indeed the situation is at a crisis, as you…well know. Those of us who are lucky enough to have found a solid berth must keep the issue alive.
  • What the story doesn’t report is the chasm between many administrators and rank-and-file tenured faculty: the latter often support equitable treatment of adjuncts. The Ohio provost’s reference to higher faculty pay leading to higher college costs is absurd. Anyone in higher ed knows how much money is wasted on high profile projects & new buildings & (no surprise here) administrators’ salaries which often run into a quarter of a million a year or more.
  • What a thing to listen to – and are parents hearing this, I wonder? So many who love teaching lost to the profession in a money-driven culture.
  • This is not news to those of us who have been adjuncts for years. At the New School, I can add up what the students are paying and what I’m getting paid. It makes for some amusing math. And we have a union. But that didn’t prevent the school from offering fewer classes – another way of paying us less.
  • Glad awareness is being raised.


UA doesn’t follow required hiring guidelines for adjunct faculty

The University of Akron has established Part-time Faculty Hiring Guidelines, but admits that it does not follow them. This is the case even though the university says this hiring procedure is “uniformly required” for low-paid adjuncts, who make up roughly 70 percent of UA’suakron infographic faculty.

The guidelines require that, “Prior to the beginning of each semester, the hiring unit/department should establish a part time faculty hiring committee. The goal of the committee is to complete the hiring of new part time faculty in the month prior to the start of each semester. Expediting the hiring of part time faculty employees, will allow the faculty members the opportunity to familiarize themselves with campus, to obtain necessary access to university provided services (i.e. PeopleSoft access, University ID, etc) and to receive prompt pay.”

In a Sept. 26, 2013, public records request, we asked for “Documents listing the members of part time/adjunct/contingent faculty hiring committees formed by departments/units within the College of Arts and Sciences who hired part-time faculty for fall term 2013, as required by the institution’s ‘Part- time Faculty Hiring Guidelines.'”

UA responded with an admission that it does not have documents that indicate compliance with this hiring guideline.

According to an Oct. 9, 2013, response from Scott M. Campbell, UA’s associate counsel, “I have contacted the two departments within the College of Arts and Sciences that have the most part time faculty to gather any responsive records – Communications and English. There are no responsive documents to your request. While there is a committee and/or involvement from various staff members that will review the hiring of part time faculty, there are no responsive documents.”

We doubt that any such hiring committees exist when an institution as large as UA cannot provide paperwork to document them.

The guidelines also state that “A well-documented screening process will aid the institution in defending a decision that is scrutinized by regulatory agencies or individuals who challenge the legitimacy of the process.  Your committee may want to develop a screening checklist or screening matrix to document each applicant’s qualifications.”

In our Sept. 26, 2013, request, we also asked for “screening checklists or screening matrix, prepared as part of the screening process used by the College of Arts and Sciences hiring committees for part time/adjunct/contingent faculty for fall term 2013, as required by the institution’s “Part-time Faculty Hiring Guidelines.”

Campbell responded that the university had no documents to show that the Department of English and the School of Communication, comply with that guideline. He wrote: “I have contacted the two departments within the College of Arts and Sciences that have the most part time faculty to gather any responsive records – Communications and English. There are no responsive documents to your request.”

The components of the hiring process for part-time faculty, include:

UA hiring process

Resist the status quo at MLA Convention 2014

mla subconferenceAt MLA Convention 2014: Vulnerable Times, you can attend sessions on contingent labor. You can also attend alternative programs coordinated by the MLA Subconference: Resisting Vulnerable Times.

MLA Convention 2014 takes place Jan. 9-12 in Chicago. See the contingent labor program schedule below. You can also download the full program.

The MLA Subconference is held Jan. 8-9 in Chicago. Download the Official MLA Subconference Program.

Sessions on Faculty Work and Contingent Academic Labor Compiled by the MLA Committee on Contingent Labor in the Profession

Sessions Arranged by the Committee

•            Contingent Faculty Breakfast Session

Friday, 10 January, (7:30 for Committee Members) 8 to 10:00 a.m., Clark, Marriott             Downtown (540 N. Michigan Ave.)

Friday, 10 January, 8:30–9:45 a.m., Kane, Chicago Marriott

Saturday, 11 January, 1:45–3:00 p.m., Belmont, Chicago Marriott

Other Relevant Sessions

Thursday, 9 January, 3:30–4:45 p.m., Clark, Chicago Marriott

Thursday, 9 January, 5:15–6:30 p.m., Addison, Chicago Marriott

Thursday, 9 January, 7:00–8:15 p.m., Chicago G, Chicago Marriott

Friday, 10 January, 10:15–11:30 a.m., Chicago H, Chicago Marriott

Friday, 10 January, 10:15–11:30 a.m., Superior A, Sheraton Chicago

Friday, 10 January, 3:30–4:45 p.m., Chicago X, Sheraton Chicago

Friday, 10 January, 5:15–6:30 p.m., Erie, Sheraton Chicago

Saturday, 11 January, 8:30–9:45 a.m., Chicago X, Sheraton Chicago

Saturday, 11 January, 12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., Northwestern–Ohio State, Chicago Marriott

Saturday, 11 January, 1:45–3:00 p.m., Michigan B, Sheraton Chicago

Saturday, 11 January, 5:15–6:30 p.m., Indiana-Iowa, Chicago Marriott

Sunday, 12 January, 8:30–9:45 a.m., Sheffield, Chicago Marriott

Sunday, 12 January, 1:45–3:00 p.m., Lincolnshire, Chicago Marriott

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


Show FOR PROFIT on your campus

As part of its contribution to Campus Equity Week 2013, the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education has sponsored the filming of:

The film version of the performance is being offered for screening at college campuses and other venues around the country exclusively during the week of Oct. 28 – Nov. 2.

The play provides a wonderful opportunity for students, faculty, staff and community members to discuss a wide range of current issues in higher education—not just the for-profit college industry, but also the broader “for profit” mindset towards higher education today that is behind so many problems facing us, our students, and our society’s educational future.

For more information on sponsoring this event on your campus or in your community, contact:  info@futureofhighered.org.

Promote the performance

Download the FOR PROFIT Promotion Posterwhich is designed so you can print it and customize it by hand with the specific time, date and location of the showing of FOR PROFIT on your campus. We also suggest adding this tagline underneath the title before you make copies:

A Solo-Play about the 1 TRILLION DOLLAR STUDENT DEBT CRISIS & the Exploitation of the American College Student.

See other CEW resources on the Campus Equity Week 2013 website.

OPTFA meets July 31 at noon

July OPTFA meeting

Location: Copley Commons, 2830 Copley Rd., Suite 26, Copley, Ohio 44321
Date and Time: Wednesday, July 31, noon

To attend the meeting via computer or telephone:

1.  Please join my meeting by computer:
2.  Use your microphone and speakers (VoIP) – a headset is recommended.  Or, call in using your telephone.
Access Code: 296-615-981
Audio PIN: Shown after joining the meeting
Meeting ID: 296-615-981

UA adjunct wins unemployment appeal

At the University of Akron and some other Ohio institutions, it is routine practice to dispute unemployment claims filed by former employees, including part-time faculty members. This month, a member of UA’s part-time faculty fought the university’s denial of her claim and won.

The adjunct applied for benefits when spring semester ended in May. Her application was approved, and she received benefits from May 18 through June 8.

When UA disputed her claim, the Department of Job & Family Services issued a redetermination saying she was not eligible to receive benefits during the summer months because she had “reasonable assurance of continued employment” with UA for the fall term, as she had received and accepted a verbal offer to teach one course during fall semester 2013.

The adjunct filed a written appeal of the redetermination, and the process moved to the next level — a telephone hearing conducted by a hearing officer with Ohio’s Unemployment Compensation Review Commission.

At the hearing, the adjunct represented herself, and UA was represented by Neil Bhagat, an attorney with Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs, the firm that currently represents UA in its unemployment compensation disputes. UA also had Sheldon Wrice, associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences, on the line as a witness during the phone hearing.

Here’s how the part-time faculty member who won her appeal described the process:

“the administrator [Wrice] was understanding of my situation. At one point, he stated that I could be bumped by a full time faculty member up until the first day of classes. He also commented that an offer of employment was not a guarantee of employment, and that I did not enjoy the same rights and privileges as it relates to full time status…Although, my individual facts and circumstances could be different from others, they [other adjuncts] certainly will be able to cite the prior court case of the University of Akron v. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services as it relates to the reasonable assurance clause in the Ohio unemployment statute.

“As an aside, I think it is important to note that claimants can question witnesses during a telephone hearing. I simply asked questions of the administrator that cast doubt upon the certainty of part-time employment — especially in the areas of bumping and enrollment numbers. I hope this helps others to support their claims when denied unemployment based on this murky ‘reasonable assurance’ issue.”

When hearing officer Emily Briscoe issued her July 22 decision granting unemployment compensation to the UA adjunct, she cited Webster’s Dictionary in defining the terms “reasonable” and “assurance.” See the text of this section below or read the decision in its entirety, with the name of the part-time faculty member redacted by OPTFA to protect her privacy.

reasonable assuranceThe adjunct who won this appeal shared her story with the Ohio Adjunct Discussion Listserv in the hope that “it will help others decide to push forward with their claims and appeals.”

In a message on the listserv, she also wrote:
I do believe that the reasonable assurance justification employed by the University can be challenged. Additionally, I will simply add to the sentiments expressed in a previous [discussion list] thread, that unemployment benefits are our legal right when we lack employment. No one should be discouraged because they perceive some sort of backlash. If you think about it, what are you really losing? With the anticipated cutbacks in adjunct hours and class offerings, we are all vulnerable. The only way to ensure that we are treated fairly is for us to file. Hopefully, we can send a message to academic institutions that we will assert our rights to benefits and pursue them vigorously.

Although adjuncts are entitled to unemployment compensation between terms, they often do not file for benefits for several reasons:

  • They may not realize they are entitled to benefits.
  • They may fear retaliation.
  • They may be unwilling to go through the necessary filing and appeals process because they have heard that the claims of other adjuncts have been denied.

More unemployment compensation resources:

Adjunct issues trend on Twitter, are voiced on MPR

Trending on Twitter this week is Maria Maisto, President of New Faculty Majority and her Trending on Twittertweet  on the Walmart strike.

Maisto also shares her thoughts on the new faculty majority — aka adjuncts — in this story on Minnesota Public Radio. In it, she talks about how adjunct working conditions are student learning conditions.

More recent media coverage of adjuncts

Who to follow on Twitter


OPTFA meets Wednesday in Mentor

Spring semester is over, but OPTFA is not taking a summer break. Join us for our May meeting as we take advantage of the momentum we built using our May Day Rally for Equity, our social media campaigns via Twitter and Facebook, and our involvement in the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education‘s 5th Meeting last weekend in Columbus.

OPTFA usually meets on the fourth Wednesday and fourth Sunday of each month, but due to the Memorial Day weekend, we will meet only at noon on Wednesday, May 22, this month. We will not meet on Sunday.

OPTFA May Meeting: Join us in person, online or by phone

  • Wednesday, May 22, noon. See in person, online, or telephone options below.
Join the Wednesday, May 22, meeting at noon in person

Location: Panera on Mentor’s east side, 9587 Mentor Ave. Mentor, OH. Get directions.

Agenda: TBA

RSVP: to optfa@newfacultymajority.info

Join the Wednesday, May 22, meeting at noon online or by phone

Join the meeting online: Visit https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/896295253 and log in using Meeting ID: 896-295-253. Use your microphone and speakers (VoIP) – a headset is recommended. RSVP: to optfa@newfacultymajority.info

Join the meeting by phone: Call in using your telephone. Dial +1 (510) 201-0301. Access Code: 896-295-253. Audio PIN: Shown after joining the meeting. RSVP: to optfa@newfacultymajority.info