Report from Jack Longmate

This was sent out originally on the adj-l list on August 14, 2006 and is a quick summary of three of the presentations. Jack Longmate (jacklongmate@earthlink.net) teaches at Olympic College in Bremerton, Washington.

The Oaxaca, Mexico 40,000-teachers strike since June

Presenting was Raul Gatica, one of the Oaxaca strike leaders who's been exiled from Mexico and happens to be staying in Vancouver. I'm afraid his message didn't come through very clearly, but this was no frivolous strike over class size or cost of living increase but general social conditions in this impoverished region. It is aimed at protesting the repressive, reactionary, violent response that the state governor has taken to general calls for reform and improvements. Coincidentally, four individuals taking part in the protest were killed just last week.

Raul made the point that to be a teacher is to be a "social and community leader," which may not be quite the way we educators in North American tend to define ourselves. And it's one thing to mouth the words "solidarity" with one's union members, but quite another to muster the courage to stand up in the faces possible violence.

British Columbia Model/Regularization

Featured in several sessions was the British Columbia model which entails "regularization"; at least in the public two-year college system, what that means is that once part-time instructors teach at 50 percent for two years, they become regularized, meaning that they can presume to remain employed at the same level (the right of accrual and right of first refusal). When a part-time faculty is first hired as a term faculty, he or she accrues seniority on a pro-rated basis. When regularized, a part-time faculty earns the same seniority as a full-time faculty, which means that one's seniority cannot be overtaken by someone who happens to teach more classes. Seniority is the most important factor in determining job assignments, which are made at the department head level, not specified by the contract as being the exclusive domain of full-time instructors. There is no pay differential associated with regularization since all faculty, full-time and part-time, are paid on the same salary schedule.

One of the British Columbia speakers, Cindy Oliver, president of the BC Federation of Post Secondary Educators, proclaimed a general moral principle: "All instructor are of equal value." With provisions like regularization, there is concrete evidence to lend credence to that statement, not simply inflated rhetoric.

I was delighted to learn that systems of regularization are not limited to British Columbia. One U.S. college, the AFT-affiliated Community College of Philadelphia, has a regularization system. John Braxton, the presenter, explained that there are 3 bargaining units within the same union: those who teach less than 9 credits per semester; Visiting Lecturers, and full-time tenure track, with a structured manner to move from one to the next.

Legislation, Job Security, and Faculty Solidarity

Larry Gold, director of higher education for the AFT, announced an ambitious plan to introduce legislation in what he hopes will be 20 states. He explained that goals include (1) stipulating the full-time to part-time ratio as a means of creating more full-time appointments, (2) establishing equal pay for contingent faculty, and (3) establishing of job security for contingent faculty.

The highlight of the conference came on Sunday during the panel discussion on Academic Freedom. Keith Hoeller made the point that key to academic freedom is tenure, but since contingent faculty don't have tenure, they don't have academic freedom. When the last speaker of the panel, Kery Nelson, AAUP President, spoke, he said that he accepted and agreed with Keith Hoeller's analysis of the lack of academic freedom for contingent faculty. He then turned to Larry Gold of the AFT and Karen Sproles of the NEA and invited those two unions to join the AAUP in support a job security bill in the Washington state legislature: Senate Bill 5970 and its companion House Bill 2080. (http://www.leg.wa.gov/pub/billinfo/2005-06/Pdf/Bills/Senate%20Bills/5970.pdf) The action called by this bill would not impact the state budget. In a nutshell, it would establish that an adjunct who has taught for 9 quarters (same requirement as tenure) would no long be a temporary status but could then presume that his or her job would continue.
Last revised on September 09, 2006 by the Webmaster.