Thursday, May 29, 2008

Tirelli on CUNY

Vinny Tirelli founded adj-l in 1998 (& posted this history there yesterday).

Prior to 2000, when the current PSC leadership (the New Caucus) won their positions, the old leadership (since the 1970s) had not enforced the agency shop fee for part-time faculty. This discouraged part-time faculty from joining the union and paying dues, thereby becoming voting members. The dues were a flat rate -- for part-timers I think it was about $240 per year when last implemented. There was never more than about 600-800 part-timers who joined the union (out of about 7000-9000). The part-time activists themselves campaigned forcefully and over a long period of time for the union to enforce the agency fee so that it would be easier for us to get part-timers to join the union and vote (i.e., if they were already paying agency fee, then it wouldn't be onerous to join the union and translate that into union dues instead -- we'd been trying since the 8 0's to get the union to implement this). The old leadership wouldn't implement it, but when the new leaders came in (2000) they agreed with the part-time activists, instituted the agency fee, and restructured the dues so that we were not paying a flat rate, but a percentage (1.0% -- which is much better for those teaching only a couple of classes per year, whereas for those teaching a larger "part-time" load, it's not much different. Senior full time faculty pay a little more - 1.05%). Today there are about 4500 part-time faculty in the union as dues paying voting members (out of 9000-10,000 in any given semester). As you all know, there is a frequent turnover, and that is part of the problem with regard to continuity and mobilization. The union has paid (part-time) organizers on the various campuses who work to keep these numbers up. The disparity in salaries remain, though in the first contract negotiated by the new leadership (200 2?) part-time faculty who are teaching two or more classes on one campus get paid for an office hour (equivalent to another credit-hour -- e.g., 6 hours of credits gets paid as 7 with the extra one for an office or professional hour). We've got a ways to go, but let's not discount the gains -- in terms of political voice, we have a seat at the table as voting members. That is no small accomplishment. Now we have to turn that into more significant contractual gains - not an easy task when budget cuts are looming and inequality is thriving.

"The bane of part-time faculty: satisfying work, lousy benefits"; Bridget Murray; APA Monitor December 1998.

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