Every college instructor has had the experience...you've researched your material, worked out the format of the class, and spent hours preparing the best way to present it. Yet you still find yourself standing across the room from a group of people who seem reluctant to engage in a productive discussion. Part of our job as professors is to have a toolkit ready for managing situations like this. So, on Tuesday, when admin met our proposals with silence, one of our team suggested they try the classroom technique of telling us one good thing and one bad thing. It was meant as a joke (sort of), but your blogger is going to take that advice to frame Thursday’s report. Because Thursday was…..frustrating.

 

So…

 

One Good Thing:

We appear to be close to tentative agreements on the benefit funds! All of the funds are important, but our membership has been adamant that our inability to afford healthcare is unacceptable. Finding a solution to this has been the priority on both sides of the table.

One Bad Thing:

We did not finish negotiations in the 3 day time frame. From our perspective, admin did not bring forward meaningful proposals until very late in the afternoon, by which time everyone was exhausted and on edge. It was apparent to us that staying into the night would not be productive, and would not lead to agreements that met the needs of our membership.

One Good Thing:

So many OBSERVERS!!! If the conference room was a boat, our side would have tipped over. Thank you so much for coming out during spring break! Your presence is a constant reminder, to our amazing bargaining team and to admin, that we are acting on behalf of a large and essential part of the PSU community.

One Bad Thing:

Admin agrees with us that they have a different idea of what equity and pay parity look like for adjuncts. Basically, we think it looks like, um, pay parity with non-tenure track full-time faculty. Admin, well, they need to study it more. We were told several times that this is a new idea, and they haven’t had adequate time to process it. They said the same thing during collective bargaining two years ago, and it’s the main theme of our current bargaining campaign materials, but ok. Now we have more time.

One Good Thing:

Your team will not be pressured into a deal that doesn’t meet the urgent needs of adjuncts. There is something particularly frustrating about arguing over our members' inability to meet basic human needs with a table of people who are all making six figures, and who despite their repeated assurances that they appreciate us and understand that the role of adjuncts is changing at universities across the U.S. continue to bring up examples of specialized professionals, like doctors and engineers, who come to teach one class, even though those instances make up a small and ever shrinking percentage of adjuncts, and it’s unlikely that such a professional is being offered the minimum rate anyway, and currently a large majority of our bargaining unit DO make the minimum rate or only slightly more. Did admin start bargaining in 1978? Is that why they thought we had more time??….oh wait, this is a One Good Thing. Sorry.

...Our Team! They are resolved that we don’t just need to be paid a little bit more (as admin is suggesting), our work needs to be valued equally. 

These pie charts illustrate what we’re asking for:

 Adjunct faculty teach over 1/3 of student credit hours and yet our salaries are less that 10% of the total budget for instruction at PSU. PSUFA's proposal to pay adjuncts the same $ amount per credit as full-time non-tenure track faculty would change our portion of that budget by .5 of a percent from 9.4% to 9.9% of the budget for instruction.

Adjunct faculty teach over 1/3 of student credit hours and yet our salaries are less that 10% of the total budget for instruction at PSU. PSUFA's proposal to pay adjuncts the same $ amount per credit as full-time non-tenure track faculty would change our portion of that budget by .5 of a percent from 9.4% to 9.9% of the budget for instruction.

 PSUFA's proposal to be paid the same $ amount per credit as the base rate for full-time non-tenure track faculty would result in only a tiny fraction of a change to the overall portion of PSU's budget. Same pay for same work is fair, and look how small of an impact it will make on the budget.

PSUFA's proposal to be paid the same $ amount per credit as the base rate for full-time non-tenure track faculty would result in only a tiny fraction of a change to the overall portion of PSU's budget. Same pay for same work is fair, and look how small of an impact it will make on the budget.

It’s not much.

After the session was over, one observer quipped that maybe students should pay discounted tuition for classes taught by adjuncts, since our classes cost the school so much less. If that's an absurd suggestion, what is the justification for paying adjuncts less?

Maybe we will find out when talks resume.

To be continued...

 Your team (or most of them, if you look closely you can see Barry's fist behind Bill's beer) decompressing with drinks, guac and some GEU solidarity

Your team (or most of them, if you look closely you can see Barry's fist behind Bill's beer) decompressing with drinks, guac and some GEU solidarity