After more than 20 bargaining sessions with the University’s Employee and Labor Relations team, USF Part-Time Faculty Association (PTFA) has organized a Contract Campaign Action rally. The March 2 event will commence at 2:30 pm outside of Gleeson Library and will close with a procession up Lone Mountain.
In their Feb. 28 press release, the PTFA explained that the event will serve as a response to what they described as a “lack of movement from the bargaining table.” Rebecca Gordon, a PTFA Policy Board representative stated that the purpose of the rally can be summarized as an attempt to “draw the attention of the USF community, the Board of Supervisors and the Bay Area media to fight for a fair contract.”
The PTFA team sent the administration a counterproposal to their negotiations seven weeks ago and, as of Feb. 28, have yet to receive a response, according to Gordon. “They walked away from bargaining on Jan. 12, without even considering our most recent comprehensive proposal,” said Gordon.
In a statement to the Foghorn, PTFA Secretary Michael Hammond explained that the bargaining process has proven to be difficult. The upcoming rally comes amid the team’s decision to file a labor complaint against the University in early February. “We started the summer with high expectations, but it’s been hard to get the administration to address our needs and make us feel like they’re taking our proposals seriously.”
The team has hopes that the upcoming rally will change this, as finding the most effective strategy for garnering support has been a learning curve. “When we first started negotiations, the PTFA team was new to the process. After all these months, we feel we have grown stronger and more capable to stand up for ourselves and the needs of those we represent,” continued Hammond. “Our organizing campaign, which includes events like this week’s rally, has resulted in the PTFA being more visible than ever before.”
The rally is a follow-up to PTFA’s November Speak Out event that, as the Foghorn previously reported, attracted more than 100 attendees. According to Hammond, the Contract Campaign Action event is expected to gain similar attention. “Based on conversations with students during our informational tabling last week and the buzz on social media, we’re optimistic that we’ll meet or exceed the turnout of Speak Out,” Hammond said. “PTFA has been blown away by the level of support we’ve seen from our students.”
In their latest press release, PTFA said that in addition to the guest speakers representing their team and staff union teams, they anticipate that a few representatives from student groups will speak at the event. Connie Chan, San Francisco Supervisor for District 1, is also expected to attend.
Upon the Foghorn asking about the administration’s position on the upcoming rally, university spokesperson Angie Davis said, “The PTFA has every right to express its concerns as long as it is in a respectful manner that does not interfere with the work of our staff and students’ educational experience.”
Davis added that the University has and will continue to bargain in good faith as the negotiations proceed. When asked to comment on any movements that have been made thus far, Davis said, “Bargaining should be done at the bargaining table and not through the media.”
Moving forward, the PTFA team hopes to continue negotiations with the administration and work toward reaching a consensus. As far as what the team wants to see from the University in the future, Gordon said, “They should provide a serious response to our most recent proposal and should demonstrate respect for the devoted teachers who make up nearly 60% of USF faculty.”
The PTFA organizing campaign plans to continue hosting events similar to the Speak Out protest and the upcoming Contract Campaign Action rally should it be necessary as the semester progresses. In the meantime, those interested in supporting the PTFA team may do so by keeping up with them on Instagram @usfPTFA and attending the rally on Wednesday.
The rally will be held following this issue of the Foghorn going to print for its March 3 publication date. Full coverage of the event will be published in our March 10 issue.