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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

August 23, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Opinion

Contingent faculty union releases paper on bargaining priorities

Standing up for Equal Pay for Equal Work

The Current Situation of Contingent Faculty at IC

Contingent faculty (both part- and full-time) currently comprise 41% of IC’s faculty.[1] The average tenure of employment for part-time faculty at IC is seven years and 32% of IC part-time faculty graduated from IC themselves.

Part-time faculty members’ current rate of pay is $1400/credit hour and we are limited to teaching 2 courses per semester, a limit designed to make us ineligible for benefits. A part-timer at IC teaching the maximum course load makes $16,800 a year. There are very few skilled workers or professional jobs of any kind that make as little as part-time faculty currently do, even adjusting for our part-time status. According to wage statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor, Ithaca College part-time faculty earn less than quarry rock-splitters and garbage collectors.[2]

Furthermore, part-time faculty are compensated far less per-credit to teach the same courses as their full-time contingent counterparts. Here’s what this looks like at IC:

Meet Erin Francisco and Megan Graham. Erin is a part-timer and Megan is a full-timer. Both are contingent faculty in IC’s excellent Writing department and both teach sections of the same course. But because Megan teaches on a one-year full-time contract and Erin teaches on a part-time contract, Megan earns 64% more per credit to teach the same class that Erin teaches. What’s more, at the conclusion of Megan’s one-year contract, she will be asked to teach the exact same course in 2016-17 but this time at part-time status, at which point she’ll see a 64% pay cut, despite having actually gained experience and qualifications.

Some FAQs:

– Should students expect Erin to be 64% less qualified than Megan to teach their class?

– Should students in Erin’s class expect her to do 64% less work for them or to offer them only 36% of the support that Megan offers her students?

– Should students have the option to pay 64% less tuition per credit for Erin’s class than they pay for Megan’s?

We believe IC students have the right to expect their school to invest in all of their faculty.

What We Have Proposed: Equal Pay for Equal Work

As the bargaining committee, we have surveyed our members and devoted significant time to discussing what a fair wage would be for part-time faculty. The model we settled on is one that aligns with the related movements of feminism and racial justice: equal pay for equal work.[3]

In asking for equal pay for part-time faculty, we are asking for our per course pay to match that of the lowest paid full-time contingent faculty members on campus, most of whom have one-year contracts and who make $48,000/year.[4] This comes out to $2,000/credit, or $24,000/year for a part-timer teaching the maximum 2/2 load.[5]

Our calculations arise from the fact that part-time faculty salaries can easily and fairly be compared to full-time contingent faculty salaries. Full-time contingent faculty at IC are either assigned to teach a 4/4 load or to teach fewer courses (e.g. a 3/4 or 3/3 load) in exchange for assigned service and/or advising duties. Part-time faculty teach the same courses as full-time contingent faculty, with the same dedication, and should be paid the same per course rate.

How Does Our Proposal Affect the Budget?

We believe it is the administration’s job to figure out how to pay their faculty equitably before taking pay raises themselves.[6] That said, we have taken it upon ourselves to research IC’s budget, in order to be confident we are proposing a win-win situation for the College. Our research shows part-time salaries currently comprise 1/100 of IC’s operating budget.[7] Our request for an approximate additional 0.45% by the end of our first contract would get IC in line with the non-discriminatory and fair practice of pay equity for its faculty, while keeping the part-time faculty salary pool smaller than the catering budget.

Returning Ithaca College to a Tried and Tested Model of Success for Higher Ed:

Stability and Respect for Faculty

Across the country, colleges and universities have imprudently rushed into a new model for higher ed, one that relies on dirt-cheap and destabilized, yet highly educated, labor. This model is unsustainable in the long run; as pointed out by Associate Professor of History Michael Smith and Associate Professor of Politics Don Beachler in their recent op-ed, “this kind of cost-cutting aimed at faculty weakens the institution, its reputation, and its future.”[8]

While some part-time faculty are employed part-time for valid reasons (such as to teach a highly specialized course or to fill in for medical or family leaves), many courses are taught by long-term part-timers not because doing so benefits our students or departments but solely so that administration can avoid paying benefits and a fair wage to their faculty. We ask the administration to account for the misuse of its faculty lines to this point and commit to the fair and non-discriminatory principles of equal pay for equal work going forward.

The faculty-student relationship is at the heart of any true educational institution. Our students deserve a stable body of faculty who are compensated fairly for our hard work and dedication. Our wage proposals follow the lead of several colleges in our region[9] who are pursuing a path to equity with their contingent faculty. We ask simply for our administration to commit itself to the non-discriminatory and fair practice of equal pay for equal work.

Where We Stand

At the December 2 bargaining session, the administration ignored the rallying cries of their students to pay their professors a living wage and chose instead to offer part-time faculty an even smaller compensation increase than they had previously offered, effectively regressing in bargaining. This is unacceptable and we stand ready to take whatever action is necessary to put us on a path to equal pay for equal work for Ithaca College faculty.

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[1] “Part-Time Faculty Union Facts and Figures.” Published by Ithaca College Human Resources in October 2016: https://www.ithaca.edu/hr/part_time_union/facts_figures/

[2] U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. See: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes537081.htm and http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes475051.htm

[3] Women and people of color are more likely to find themselves with contingent rather than tenure-track positions in higher ed, according to a 2016 study from the TIAA Institute titled “Taking the Measure of Faculty Diversity.” Read a summary of the study, “More Faculty Diversity, Not on Tenure Track,” in Inside Higher Ed: <https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/08/22/study-finds-gains-faculty-diversity-not-tenure-track>

[4] Data provided by administration on September 16, 2016.

[5] It is important to note that our calculations do not factor in the benefits that full-time contingent faculty receive (and which part-time faculty do not), benefits which are equivalent to thousands of dollars. Not factoring benefits into per-course compensation means that our “equal pay for equal work” calculation was, from the beginning, still a bit less than equal. But it was, and still is, what we see as a reasonable first step for Ithaca College to take on the path to equity.

[6] For five years, from 2010 – 2015, IC’s upper administration, already earning 6 figure salaries, took larger pay raises themselves (e.g. in the case of one Senior HR administrator, a 12% raise from 2012 to 2014) than they offered to tenured and tenure-track faculty, while neglecting to cover even basic cost of living increases for part-time faculty. (Data provided by IC administration 9/23/16; also see IC tax forms 990.)

[7] See the “Board Approved 2016-17 Budget” for Ithaca College.

[8] Beachler, Don and Michael Smith. “Administration Must Support Fair Wage for All Faculty.” Ithacan. November 16, 2016. <https://theithacan.org/opinion/commentary-administration-must-support-fair-wage-for-all-faculty/>

[9] For examples, see the recent adjunct faculty union contracts with administrations at Tufts, College of St. Rose, and Champlain College.