The part-time faculty union and the university are discussing salary increases and changes to benefits this week as they attempt to agree and sign a new contract for adjunct faculty. Jake McGoldrick, an adjunct English as a Second Language (ESL) professor and president of the part-time faculty union at USF, said, “We are moving forward, in terms of pay increase. We would like to sign a two year contract.” According to assistant vice president for public affairs and communications, Gary McDonald, most contracts at the university are three years long. The agreement that the full time faculty union signed last November was a three-year agreement. The new contract for the part time faculty will affect between 250 and 400 adjunct professors that teach about forty percent of classes at USF.
In addition to the obvious desire for a pay increase to keep up with the economic crisis, the part time faculty union is seeking an extension of benefits, like medical insurance, retirement benefits and better working conditions. McDonald said that USF is unique because it is one of a few private universities that offer its adjunct faculty health care. To qualify for health insurance benefits, adjunct faculty must be accepted in the preferred hiring pool (PHP). The preferred hiring pool is similar to the tenure track that full-time professors are on. However, the tenure track has several steps that, when reached, provide benefits, like a salary increase or other benefits. The PHP is the only promotional step that separates adjunct faculty from newer faculty members. This is one of the key points that the part-time faculty would like to change in their contract negotiations. McGoldrick said that they would like a career ladder put in place that would mirror the tenure track of a full time professor in that there would be several steps that offer a professor an incentive to improve his or her performance and be evaluated and rewarded for his or her merit. Once adjunct professors reach the PHP, there is no incentive in place to motivate them to improve their teaching and learning. Cassandra Millspaugh, an adjunct professor for the Spanish department, would like to see “a system put into place that makes sense and is fair.” She said that such a system should “value that they (adjunct faculty) stayed at the university.” Lily MacKenzie, an adjunct rhetoric and communications professor and vice president of the part-time faculty union, also said that she would like a career ladder or system of promotions established. She said that she has been teaching at USF for 20 years and earns the same amount of money as someone who has just entered the PHP earns. MacKenzie said, “We deserve to have promotional efforts.” Mary Coombs, an adjunct professor for the School of Education, said, “The community is not attending to the idea of fairness.”
McDonald said that the salary increase is still being resolved. The part time faculty contract will involve a raise, but the amount is yet to be determined. He said that the administration is offering to expand the number of spots available in the Kaiser health insurance plan. Although there has not been a complete resolution, McDonald said that the negotiations have been extremely cordial and both parties are interested in signing a contract quickly. McGoldrick said that the most important part of negotiating is finding mutual interests with the administration. McDonald said that the administration is very interested in reaching an agreement that the adjunct faculty are satisfied with because this will provide students with a better experience at USF.