Adjunct faculty finalize contract

Following months of negotiations with the University, the adjunct faculty union is set to distribute a contract concerning job security, promotions and salaries by mid-December, a union leader said.

Kip Lornell, who is both a union leader and an adjunct music professor, said he is confident the part-time faculty will approve the contract.

“We would be more stunned if Godzilla was raised from middle of campus or if GW decided to reduce tuition by 50 percent than if the part -time faculty did not approve this contract,” he said.

He said he could not discuss the terms of the contract specifically as it is still being negotiated, but Lornell said it will be a huge benefit to the adjunct faculty.

The contract is a major step in a age-old battle between the University and its adjunct staff. GW has more than 1,000 adjunct faculty members, who they often tout because of their prominence in industry.

“This contract will provide better money, job security and other benefits adjunct faculty have never seen or never dreamed of,” Lornell said.

The contract will be distributed to the 1,502 part-time faculty members. It needs to be approved by a majority of the faculty to pass.

Though Lornell said the negotiations are finishing up, a University representative declined to set a timeline for the production of a contract.

“There is a constructive atmosphere at the bargaining

table but we do not have an estimate as to when negotiations will be completed,” said Michelle Sherrard, a GW spokesperson.

At least four faculty members and two representatives of the Local 500 of the Service Employees International Union have met about every other week since February negotiating a contract for adjunct faculty.

Both parties have reached tentative agreements on 16 contract provisions and are now in the process of negotiating economic issues, Sherrard said.

After battling with GW for three years in an attempt to form a union, in December 2006 GW decided that it would not continue the legal battle with the U.S. Court of Appeals.

Data reported to the federal Education Department shows that 70 percent of professors at colleges and universities are either part-time or have non-tenure track positions.

“Both sides have bargaining in good faith. Eight years ago we would have predicted the University would have been stalling. We have been a very thankful for the substantial progress we have made,” Lornell said.

The adjunct faculty union at New York University spent 18 months negotiating a contract with the collegwe. The same process took 12 months at the New School in Manhattan.

Their contracts include terms regarding faculty appointments, faculty review process, paid academic leave, benefits and compensation.

“We are really excited to see GW adjuncts get a great contract,” said Joel Schlemowitz, president of ACT-UAW, which represents NYU and New School. “It will only ensure that we can go to NYU and New School and say expectations of what is in an adjunct contract have risen. We hope that improving things for one group of faculty will help bring momentum to everyone.”

The only portion of the negotiating process that must be completed concerns economic issues.

“We went in with cynical attitudes because the University fought (the formation of the union) all the way to U.S. Supreme Court, and GW was very serious about not bargaining with us.I commend the folks at Rice Hall because since our second meeting, they have wanted to negotiate a contract,” Lornell said.

Lornell said between 8 and 9 percent of faculty have a year-to-year contract, and 10 percent receive benefits. These are among the issues that are being negotiated.

The union is also looking for transparency, Lornell said. There is no information about part-time faculty in the faculty handbook or in publications about how professors are evaluated for reappointment or promotion.

David Rodich, executive director of the union, said “Negotiations have been constructive on both sides. Everyone has been working hard, and the tone at the table has been one of compromise and progress.”

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.