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Dear George,

Some of the items (higher ed organizing, distance learning) which came up at the Executive Committee meeting on 10 September deserve comment.

On the matter of organizing opportunities in higher education, the AAUP, the NEA, and the AFT are all on record as supporting efforts to unionize the huge number of part-time faculty (sometimes called adjuncts) on American campuses. I am not talking about graduate student "teaching assistants," but mean instead faculty members who have completed all their degrees but who cannot find full-time work. They teach about 40-50% of all courses in American colleges and universities, the number is growing, and they are the "dirty little secret" about higher ed these days. They have no offices, no health care, no pensions, and are paid pitiful wages. At Quinnipiac, the full time teaching load for regular faculty is twelve hours per semester (which is high). For that I was paid $80,000 per annum. Replacing me with adjuncts would cost QC $16,000 for the same teaching load. You should read the AFT Statement on Part Time Faculty Employment, as well as their report on "The Vanishing Professor." Following right here is a relevant article from the Chronicle of Higher Education, which is subscription only so I've reproduced it for you. Read through it, because there is more after it..


February 27, 1998

Faculty Unions Move to Organize Growing Ranks of Part-Time Professors

At Columbia College of Chicago, instructors want more money and a say in decision making



Tallying up hundreds of union ballots here at the National Labor Relations Board seemed like the dullest sort of business. The ballots were light green, the walls and carpet light beige, and the counting long and monotonous.

Yet as the board official droned on, calling out each vote, emotions ran high in the N.L.R.B. hearing room. "This is very exciting," whispered Jack Behrend, a part-time instructor in the film department at Columbia College of Chicago, as a dozen other eager part-timers and anxious administrators held their breath, waiting to find out if the union vote would change their lives.

"There are very few things you work on for four years and then, bang, there it is," said Mr. Behrend.

Around the country, other part-time instructors -- desperate for better wages, benefits, and respect -- have decided that unionization is the solution to their problems.

More than 1,000 adjuncts at the University of Alaska formed a union in November. Nine months earlier, nearly 2,000 part-timers in New Jersey's state colleges voted to unionize.

Meanwhile, on campuses where the whole faculty is organized in one bargaining unit, part-timers are demanding greater recognition of their concerns. This month, a group called CUNY Adjuncts Unite bypassed the Professional Staff Congress, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers that represents all faculty members at the City University of New York. The adjuncts staged a protest at CUNY's central offices. And last week, part-time and full-time professors in the State of Washington's community and technical colleges rallied at the capitol. They were demanding better pay for adjuncts, after two legislative bills to accomplish that died in committee. The Washington Federation of Teachers, the rally's sponsor, parked a car on the capitol steps with a sign that read: "Typical Part-Time Faculty Office." Strangely enough, the car was a Saab.

Tales of "freeway fliers" -- part-timers who shuttle from campus to campus -- are commonplace, even if not all adjuncts fit that category, and not all adjuncts feel exploited. Plenty at Columbia and elsewhere say they work part time because they want to.

But, happy with their situation or not, part-timers now account for more than 40 per cent of faculty members nationwide -- about double the proportion two decades ago. And they are ripe for organizing.

"The A.A.U.P., the N.E.A., the A.F.T. are all starting to notice," said Richard Hurd, a professor of labor studies at Cornell University. "They've come to the conclusion that the use of adjunct faculty is a phenomenon threatening the full-time, tenured faculty."

Although the trend has been gradual, Dr. Hurd said, "the current focus on that phenomenon by unions indicates a level of interest in the adjunct faculty that hasn't been there in the past." He expects to see much more organizing. Whether that translates into more local unions will depend on the part-timers, their administrations, and state laws.

In 1996, about 80 institutions had separate bargaining units for some or all of their part-time professors, according to the latest directory of the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions, at CUNY's Baruch College. Of those, about 30 units had been formed since 1990. About three dozen of the institutions with separate unions for part-timers are four-year colleges.

Separate units for adjuncts represent about 18,000 part-timers, the directory indicates. Many more are represented by bargaining units that also include full-time professors. About 225 institutions around the country have unions that jointly represent full-and part-time faculty members, according to the directory.

Typically, unions have found it easier to organize part-timers together with full-timers. The unions have argued that the two groups share similar interests, and that greater numbers equal greater strength. Moreover, part-timers are tough to organize alone -- they're transient, they don't have much money to pay dues, and they are more vulnerable to firing.

Still, some of the latest union elections -- of the Illinois Education Association, at Columbia College; the American Association of University Professors and the American Federation of Teachers, jointly, in Alaska; and the A.F.T., in New Jersey, have involved part-timers going it alone.

Acknowledging the trend, the teachers federation plans to pay the way for part-timers to its annual meeting. Its Illinois affiliate was to hold a meeting last week for "Roads Scholars" in Chicago. And the A.A.U.P. has produced a packet that explains to adjuncts how to get started and what to do after they're organized. Many adjuncts, in fact, argue that going solo has advantages: Their concerns don't play second fiddle to those of full-timers in the union.

Adding up the recent elections, Perry M. Robinson, deputy director of the higher-education department at the teachers federation, concluded that the past six months have shown "a big surge" in part-timers' organizing.

Adjuncts at Columbia in Chicago are part of the groundswell. The Part-Time Faculty at Columbia won its vote 299 to 80.

Columbia employs about 900 part-timers a year (although negotiations between the union and the college allowed only 478 of them to vote), compared with 200 full-timers. The adjuncts earn, on average, $1,509 per course. Nationally, part-timers earn $1,000 to $3,000 per course.

At Columbia, the part-time instructors wanted more money ($3,000 minimum per course), benefits, and a bigger voice in governing the institution. As much as anything, they wanted to be heard. After four years, it had become clear that administrators "weren't going to sit down and talk to us. They were going to brush us off," said John Stevenson, a part-time instructor in philosophy and the union's spokesman. "It seemed to us the only way we were going to get anywhere was to unionize."

As it turned out, the administration didn't wage war to stop the union. Private colleges have been successful in preventing full-time professors from unionizing by invoking a 1980 U.S. Supreme Court decision, National Labor Relations Board v. Yeshiva University, in which the Court ruled that the professors had enough influence over university governance to be considered managerial employees, and so were ineligible to bargain under the National Labor Relations Act. But administrators would be hard-pressed to apply that case to adjuncts.

"It's very difficult for an administration to win an election that includes only part-time faculty," said John B. Duff, Columbia's president. "They're clearly not managers. They have an advantage there."

He and other administrators said the part-timers had rushed to unionize rather than work through the governance channels that the college had put in place a few years ago. Part-timers at Columbia, the officials noted, have a faculty handbook and a seat on the university-wide College Council. "It's still a mystery to me why they didn't go that route," said Caroline Dodge Latta, the academic dean. "They leaped from a couple of conversations to unionization -- from A to Z."

Before making the leap, part-timers made what college officials considered unreasonable demands: They wanted to see the college's financial records, and they wanted to form a committee that reported directly to the Board of Trustees, bypassing the administration.

What has most disturbed administrators is that, in their view, the situation at Columbia has been misunderstood. Regardless of how the employment of throngs of part-timers may look, Columbia is not the kind of place that should have drawn a union vote, officials said. "Our situation is not analogous to what's going on in the country at all," said Bert Gall, provost and executive vice-president.

Columbia offers degrees in the fine and performing arts and in communications. The liberal arts play a supporting role. In some ways, so do full-time professors -- they got tenure rights and their own governing body only a few years ago. What the college has traditionally -- and proudly -- relied on is the expertise of part-time professors who are professional artists, dancers, and journalists.

In fact, when the college established its current mission, in 1962, it started with 25 part-time faculty members -- and no full-timers. Some of the administrators, like Dr. Latta, along with about one-third of the current full-time professors, were promoted to their current jobs after starting out as adjuncts -- a practice that is unusual on most other campuses. A few part-timers even hold supervisory posts -- one is an acting department chairman. And unlike colleges that have been replacing full-time faculty lines with part-timers, Columbia has been adding to its full-time faculty ranks. This year, it hired eight.

"There are campuses that are opting to replace full-timers with part-timers for purely economic reasons," said Mr. Gall. "That was never our purpose."

Administrators and part-time professors here agree that more than half of the current adjuncts work as professionals outside the classroom. Most are not wannabe academics who earned their Ph.D.'s with hopes of teaching full time.

Those statistics don't surprise some labor experts, who think that the numbers of unhappy adjuncts have been overstated. "One thing coming out of all these stories is that there's a huge number of exploited and very angry part-timers on American campuses. I think that's really untrue," said Daniel J. Julius, vice-president for academic affairs at the University of San Francisco. "I think it's a very tiny minority."

Even so, many professionals who happily work part time at colleges around the country might nonetheless support a unionizing effort. At Columbia, many part-timers said they voted for the union out of self-interest, but many others voted Yes out of sympathy for their colleagues who are frustrated academics.

"I'm a professional, but that doesn't mean I want to be paid cheap," said Joseph Laiacona, a part-time instructor who teaches academic computing and also works as a computer programmer. He is chairman of the new union's negotiating committee. "I have one goal: to make part-time employees as expensive as full-time employees."

Pete Insley, a retired schoolteacher and part-time instructor in Columbia's science-and-math department, finds his pay "insulting" but said his concerns went beyond economic self-interest. "A lot of these people are suffering and trying to make a living off this. I didn't care about the money -- it was the injustice of it."

Plenty of full-time professors at Columbia were also sympathetic to the plight of such part-timers. More than a dozen full-time members of the art and photography departments signed a letter supporting the union. Jean Petrolle, an English professor, circulated a memo to members of her department decrying the "exploitation" of adjuncts and urging support for their organization.

But other full-timers opposed the union. They and administrators worry that it will force the college to change its highest priorities: low tuition and open admissions.

Columbia enrolls more than 8,000 students. Undergraduates pay about $8,500 to attend classes, which are held in 11 gritty buildings in Chicago's South Loop district. Most art schools charge a lot more.

If administrators were to sit at the bargaining table and agree to the current salary demands by the part-timers' union, officials say the college would need to double the $6-million it now spends on those salaries. "We couldn't do that without a certain amount of pain," said Mr. Gall, the provost.

Speaking of the union vote, but thinking beyond Columbia, he said: "It will be interesting to see if this has any contagious effects."

On other campuses, where the union movement spread earlier, part-timers are the ones feeling the pain of bargaining collectively with full-timers.

At CUNY, members of Adjuncts Unite were rallying to demand payment for the hours spent advising students. "This wouldn't be necessary if we felt we had a real role within the union," said Alex S. Vitale, a leader of the group and a Ph.D. student.

For various reasons, he said, the Professional Staff Congress has not encouraged the system's 7,000 teaching adjuncts to join its ranks. If they did, part-timers would have a voice equal to or greater than that of full-time professors, Mr. Vitale noted. The union, for its part, is in the midst of renegotiating its contract, and its leaders could not be reached. CUNY officials would not comment.

Susan J. Levy, president of the Washington Federation of Teachers, acknowledged that there, too, part-timers in the two-year colleges would outnumber full-timers if they all joined the union. Adjuncts outnumber full-timers in the classroom by at least three to one.

But Ms. Levy, an economics professor on leave from Shoreline Community College, argued that full-timers are upset about the treatment of adjuncts not just because it forces professors to carry the total burden of student advising, curricular planning, and hiring, but also because it exploits part-timers.

She said many full-time professors turned out for the union-sponsored rally at the capitol, which drew about 300 people, including Governor Gary Locke, a Democrat.

Keith Hoeller, a part-timer in the Washington State community colleges, was also scheduled to speak at last week's rally, although he thinks there are "serious conflicts of interest" in having the two groups represented by one bargaining unit. He noted that full-time professors often supervise and hire -- or decide not to hire -- part-timers.

"I would no more want the full-timers to represent part-timers than I would want the British to represent the American colonies."

After the union victory at Columbia, part-timers there acted as if they had whipped the British at Bunker Hill. They gathered at a Chicago bar to down beers and boiled shrimp. They slapped backs, shared war stories, and geared up for the next table they'll find themselves sitting around: the bargaining table.

Copyright (c) 1998 by The Chronicle of Higher Education
Date: 02/27/98
Section: The Faculty
Page: A12

Also with regard to organizing, in the CFEPE plans and goals document there is a statement saying that the Yeshiva decision has put an end to organizing faculty in provate colleges and universities. That's almost, but not quite true. Some have been organized, and now there are indications that the whole Yeshiva decision may be reversed if it gets to the Supreme Court again -- which it might. But even with no reversal of Yeshiva, the NLRB recently found against a Montana administration seeking to prevent the faculty at a small private college from organizing.


January 9, 1998

NLRB May End Its Opposition to Unions for Private-College Professors

Experts see a major shift in a ruling to allow bargaining at U. of Great Falls


A vote by faculty members to unionize at a small college in Montana may be a big breakthrough in efforts to organize professors at private institutions. It may also signal a shift in philosophy regarding private colleges by the National Labor Relations Board.

The voting, by professors at the University of Great Falls, took place in 1996, but the ballots were not counted until last month. The union won, 20 to 19. The labor board ruled that about 41 people were eligible to vote.

The count had been delayed while the administration challenged the faculty's right to bargain collectively. In November, the N.L.R.B. ruled that professors at Great Falls were employees, not managers, and therefore were entitled to union representation.

The labor-board ruling is seen as significant by some observers because most efforts to unionize private-college faculty members have been stymied for 18 years, ever since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that professors at Yeshiva University were not entitled to union representation.

In National Labor Relations Board v. Yeshiva University, the Court ruled, 5 to 4, that the professors had enough influence over university governance to be considered managerial employees, and so were not eligible to bargain under the National Labor Relations Act.

In the Great Falls case, the board's 15-page decision affirmed an April 1996 ruling by John Nelson, director of its regional office in Seattle at the time. "I cannot conclude, on the record before me, that faculty as a whole, or even those faculty who sit on committees, are aligned with management as contemplated under Yeshiva," he wrote.

The union's margin of victory at Great Falls was only one vote -- and the university has contested it -- but some labor experts are paying more attention to the signal they saw from the N.L.R.B.: The board is more receptive to faculty unionization at private colleges. "If I were a union attorney, I'd be optimistic that this board is at least willing to re-examine the Yeshiva dogma," said Joel M. Douglas, a professor of public administration at the City University of New York's Baruch College and a former director of its National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions.

He said he was wary of reading too much into the board's ruling, because Great Falls is a small institution. But he noted that the N.L.R.B.'s chairman, William B. Gould IV, has publicly criticized the Yeshiva decision. The board hasn't been able to challenge it, Mr. Douglas said, because there has been a "complete paucity of cases in the pipeline."

In a 1993 book, Agenda for Reform: The Future of Employment Relationships and the Law (M.I.T. Press), Mr. Gould wrote, "The Yeshiva decision does not bode well for reform of the workplace and the way in which workers' functions are to be performed."

He continued: "Most employees are not as far up the corporate ladder as the Court imagined university professors to be."

Mr. Gould was not available for comment, but similar reasoning appeared in the N.L.R.B. regional office's analysis of the situation at Great Falls. The ruling noted that administrators, not faculty members, made many key academic decisions.

Since the Supreme Court's Yeshiva decision, the N.L.R.B. has been reluctant to grant new bargaining rights to professors at private colleges. In fact, the decision prompted many administrations to challenge existing faculty unions, which were stripped of their right to bargain at more than 20 institutions.

As a result, national unions shied away from trying to form new units at private institutions and, instead, focused on preserving the ones they already had at private institutions and organizing new ones at public universities.

A directory published by Baruch's collective-bargaining center in 1995 reported that after Yeshiva, the labor board had granted bargaining rights to faculties at only three private, U.S. institutions: American University's English Language Institute, Bradford College, and St. Thomas University. Only the professors at American subsequently voted to form a union, according to the directory.

Faculties at other private colleges have formed unions since Yeshiva, but they did so without a full-blown challenge by their administrations, and, as a result, never had to make their case before the labor board. For example, Delaware Valley College's faculty union won certification in 1992, when the administration decided to allow unionization rather than let scheduled hearings before the labor board begin. Professors said they turned to bargaining after the governing board had ignored their recommendations on a series of hiring, promotion, and tenure decisions.

Delaware Valley is one of 18 private-college bargaining units represented by the American Association of University Professors. Of those, only three were certified after Yeshiva, and none of those had to face the labor board.

If the board's philosophy has shifted, that may encourage more faculties at private institutions to take the gamble -- and it may persuade more national unions to cover the bet. A test case of how far the N.L.R.B. has moved may come from a case pending before its regional office in New York City. Hearings in that case, which involves Manhattan College, are to resume next week.

Nicholas Trott Long, the lawyer for the University of Great Falls, agrees that the case sends a signal, but he says it was the wrong signal. The labor board made a mistake and "gave an absolutely tortured reading of the evidence to reach the conclusion it reached," he said, calling the decision "an attempt by the board to essentially eviscerate" Yeshiva.

Other observers and labor lawyers are skeptical of turning one case, or even two, into a trend. The only thing the Great Falls case proves, they say, is that the faculty successfully argued that it had no managerial rights, not that the labor board is more receptive to unionization at private colleges.

"The cases are very fact-driven," explained one labor lawyer, who asked not to be identified. All that the Great Falls decision indicates, he said, "is what the N.L.R.B. thought of Great Falls."

Perry M. Robinson, an official of the American Federation of Teachers who handles higher-education issues, agrees. Since 1980 there has been almost no rhyme or reason to the board's application of the Yeshiva decision, he said, adding that figuring out how the N.L.R.B. will treat any particular faculty case has depended mainly on the membership of the board.

Besides, observers have noted, it was the Supreme Court, not the labor board, that made Yeshiva into law. Changing that would take more than a philosophical shift by the board. It would take a new Supreme Court case.

It's not clear whether the Great Falls case will go that far. Last month, administrators there filed an objection with the labor board about the way it counted the union ballots. The university argued that because some of the professors who voted for the union had since left the institution, their votes should not count. Depending on how the board responds, the case could end up in federal court.

Penny Hughes-Briant, an education professor at Great Falls and a union organizer, said she was disappointed that the university's latest move would drag out the case even more. But she and other union supporters had decided some time ago that they were in for the long haul, she said. "The primary reason we decided to unionize was because over the last few years, we have lost the ability to communicate effectively with the administration."

She and other faculty members turned to the Montana Federation of Teachers for help after a new president had begun making widespread changes. Frederick W. Gilliard changed the institution's name from the College of Great Falls and pushed it toward liberal arts and away from specialized training for non-traditional students, said Ronald O. Haverlandt, a sociology professor at Great Falls and another of the union organizers. Many professors supported the changes, but Dr. Haverlandt and other critics complained that the new policies had been "imposed" on the faculty.

Moreover, he said, Great Falls had already tried to be a liberal-arts institution once and had struggled financially as a result, awarding no faculty-salary increases for seven years. It was only when the institution found its niche -- serving non-traditional students -- that it regained its financial health, he said. "We had a lean structure, ready for the 21st century," he added.

Dr. Gilliard said he knew that some professors had been upset by the changes he set in motion, but that they had not been specific about their reasons for unionizing. He said that salaries had been frozen for the current academic year, but that in each of the previous three years, professors had received raises. Noting the close vote to unionize, he said, "There's hardly a consensus."

The president said professors had come and gone from the institution since the ballots were cast. "It's really a different faculty at this point, many of whom are already mentioning decertification" of the new union, he said.

If Great Falls doesn't turn out to be a test case, some professors at Manhattan College believe that their institution will be. The faculty union and the administration there will resume hearings this month before the N.L.R.B.'s New York City regional office. A lawyer for the university, Shelley Sanders Kehl, said she could not comment on the case, and no administrators could be reached for comment last week.

But Joseph J. Fahey, a professor of religious studies at Manhattan and a leader of the union movement, said faculty members had taken up collective bargaining because they felt more and more removed from academic decision-making. He noted that five deans and the provost were among those who vote on the faculty promotion-and-tenure committee.

As a result, he argued, professors don't even have authority over who their colleagues will be, let alone over larger management issues.

Dr. Fahey said that about two-thirds of the 160 full-time faculty had signed ballots petioning for a union election. The college refused to allow one, he said, and the case has proceeded.

He said that what the professors really want is to hold an election, not to take the case to the Supreme Court. But if it goes that far, he said, the Great Falls decision bodes well for him and his colleagues. "We could be the test case that breaks the back of Yeshiva."

Copyright (c) 1998 by The Chronicle of Higher Education
Date: 01/09/98
Section: The Faculty
Page: A14

On the matter of "distance learning," in many ways this is seen as the coming "outsourcing" of work for the professoriate. It's all the rage in administrative circles, as you might imagine, since it means loads more "adjuncts," and much larger "classes." After all, since there is no classroom contact, what's the difference if there are 20 or 120 students enrolled in a "virtual class"?? Already there is a "virtual university" formed by the governors of ten or eleven states which has no campus, no classrooms, and no new faculty -- just lots of administrators. They are using adjuncts, and a little "overtime" work by some of the regular faculty from their state universities. If you want to know more about it, just let me know.

Last year, I taught a little course called "History on the Internet" in which my students researched papers on the Internet, and then creatred their own web sites, and finally published their papers there. In all there were only nine students in the class, and yet it was the most time consuming labor intensive class I have ever taught because in addition to teaching them all the history, I also had to lead them step by step through all the related technology on web searching, site establishment, and web publishing. Hence I will be very interested to hear what is going on at the University of Connecticut, and what their AAUP thinks of it.

You should read the AFT's report called "Teaming Up with Technology" (full of warnings about distance learning), which I converted from Word into HTML so that it might be available to folks who might find their way to the CFEPE site I created. The report cannot be read at the AFT site. Finally, if you want to see some of the work my history students did, and some of what I did, you can take a look at them by clicking here.