The part-time faculty union finalized a contract with GW this month that will raise professor salaries and increase job security for part-time professors.
But professors said the union members are not finished negotiating, and they will continue to push the University to provide additional benefits for adjuncts.
“It’s like we got the Constitution, but we still need the Bill of Rights,” said Jim Levy, a music professor who served on the negotiating team.
He added, “Just like the United States, we needed to get a document on the table that everyone could agree on to get the thing started. In two and a half years we can build on this with a second contract.”
The contract, which is a result of more than a year of negotiations, will increase the amount professors are paid per course by as much as 50 percent. The contract also places “significant restrictions on denying reappointment” and establishes an evaluation process for part-time professors.
Administrators said it is important to negotiate with adjunct professors because they make up such a large percentage of the GW faculty.
“Part-time faculty teach 55 percent of sections offered at GW. The things we have agreed to do are very important in keeping GW competitive in attracting part time faculty,” said Donald Lehman, executive vice president for academic affairs.
Many professors said they appreciate the benefits they will get with the new agreement, but they also said they believe there is still more that needs to be accomplished, especially in terms of health care benefits.
“There are of course several areas where we fell short of our initial goals,” said Kathy Larsen, a part-time University Writing professor who served on the bargaining committee. “Health care is still an issue for the majority of professors paid by the course at GW, but we have established a mechanism for continued dialogue about several of these issues.”
To address further concerns of the part-time faculty, GW will establish a joint committee to work on increasing the availability of office space and other benefits as well as form a health care committee by March, said Tracy Schario, a University spokesperson.
Professors praised the contract for its formal nature that for the first time sets in stone the rights and responsibilities of part-time professors.
“Now we are able to say that we have a contract which spells out, in black and white, many aspects of our work that were previously only understood to be the case due to departmental ‘traditions’ or made through informal oral agreements between part time teachers and their department chairs,” said Jill Robbins, an education professor who served on the bargaining committee.
She added, “Now these agreements have the force of law behind them.”