Part-time faculty hold speak out event

Updated November 18, 2021 at 12:18 PM

Regarding today’s article about the PTFA, the Foghorn has been asked to correct Drew Love’s statement. David Philpott informed the paper that University adjuncts have sick leave, and if they miss a class, they are not penalized financially.   

Updated November 18, 2021 at 2:48 PM

Adjunct faculty are eligible to accrue sick hours up to a maximum of 72 hours in compliance with local and state requirements. In addition, after a 7-day calendar waiting period, employees working in California, including adjunct faculty, are eligible to apply with medical certification for short term disability benefits which provides partial income replacement for up to 52 weeks for a non work-related illness or injury.  Short-term disability leave may be taken consecutively or intermittently.

Previous version of story can be found below.

The USF Part-Time Faculty Association (PTFA) held a speakout event on Nov. 15, protesting proposals by the University in its current bargaining negotiations. As reported by the Foghorn in September, the PTFA is continuing to argue for fair wages for adjunct faculty members and better healthcare benefits. 

The event took place at Gleeson Plaza and drew nearly 100 members of the campus community, including support from student organizations and other labor groups on the Hilltop. Most of the attendees wore, “red for [education],” per the PTFA’s wishes.

PTFA leadership says it will hold four more sessions with the University before the holiday break and hopes to reach an agreement by then. PHOTO COURTESY OF GIULIANA SALOMONE

In an email to the Foghorn, Kellie Samson, the head of USF media relations, wrote, “​​The USF negotiating team believes that bargaining should take place at the bargaining table. We do not comment on talks that are in process.” 

Both the PTFA and the University resumed bargaining negotiations Nov. 16, a day after the event. The ongoing talks, which began in July, paused for a month according to PTFA President Jill Schepmann. When asked about why the union organized the speakout a day before heading back to the negotiating table, Schepmann said, “We wanted to do something public to let people know that we’re still there, we’re still fighting five months in.” She continued by saying, “It’s about celebrating ourselves and thinking about what we can do to try and get other people to recognize what we bring to each other and how real that is.” 

The University responded and said it “looks forward to discussing all the open issues with the PTFA on Tuesday, Nov 16, 2021.”

The speakout featured guest speakers including San Francisco District 6 Supervisor Matt Haney, who said it was important for him to be there because “the city benefits from USF, and the city owes it to them, including part-time faculty members,” given that many USF students have held various positions at City Hall. 

Other labor unions also came out in solidarity. Among them were the USF Full-Time Faculty Association (USFFA), Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 29, the California Federations of Teachers (CFT), and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Local 2121. 

Urban studies professor and USFFA policy board representative Rachel Brahinsky spoke on behalf of the full-time faculty union. Speaking to the Foghorn after the event, Brahinsky said, “Part-time and full-time faculty have different job titles, but so much of what we are and what we do is the same.” She added, “USF has a moral, ethical, political and social obligation to treat all workers here with care and dignity. That includes livable wages that match the context that we live in.” 

Representatives from various student groups such as USF Solidarity, the Young Democratic Socialists for America, and the Black Student Union (BSU) also spoke at the event.

Drew Love of the BSU shared a story of how one of his professors, a part-time faculty member, had to teach class after receiving medical treatment because he couldn’t afford missing work and not getting paid. As senior environmental studies major and USF Solidarity member Mateo Girasol said at the event, “It’s important for students to stand in solidarity with PTFA since their mistreatment is our mistreatment, their struggle is our struggle.” David Philpott, the assistant vice president for labor and employee relations, told the Foghorn that University adjuncts have sick leave, and if they miss a class, they are not penalized financially.   

When asked about the PTFA’s continued effort to garner students’ and other organizations’ support, the University said that it “supports a healthy dialogue touching on all issues that impact members of our community, as long as it does not impact the student experience in the classroom.”

One of the hot button issues covered at the event was President Paul J. Fitzgerald’s recent email to faculty and staff members that there will be a one-time payment to certain eligible USF employees who did not have a pay raise in the last two years. However, part-time faculty members will not be included since the “program does not include represented employees who received contractually bargained base compensation increases from the spring of 2020 to the present.”

Samson clarified that the surplus “has fallen to a much more modest (and approximate) $10 million when University operations are taken into account. In addition, this surplus “does not impact bargaining for economic items” since “USF is still potentially facing a sizable gap” in its revenue and expenses for next year. 

The University administration continues to say it “believes bargaining should take place at the bargaining table.” PHOTO BY MIGUEL ARCAYENA/SAN FRANCISCO FOGHORN

However, some PTFA members at the event accused the University of withholding benefits and fair wages, even with the financial surplus. One of the frequent crowd chants was “A pay freeze is a pay cut,” a reference to the newest comprehensive proposal from the administration that did not include any more cuts but that adjunct faculty salaries will remain stagnant. 

Schepmann said, “We still feel that, with inflation as high as it is right now, we need to have a cost of living adjustment, so we’re going to keep fighting.” The PTFA said it will further review the proposal and present counter-proposals when they meet with the University. 

This is not the first time PTFA has set up an informational table at Gleeson Plaza. They began gathering signatures for support from students when the fall semester began. Schepmann noted that they had created a petition some weeks back and had garnered over 500 signatures, surpassing their goal. She said, “It’s a message to President Fitzgerald stating what we’re asking for: a cost of living adjustment, healthcare benefits in line with what other people pay on campus, we pay more now than others, and just a little more security for our adjuncts.”

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article inaccurately reported on the University’s policies pertaining to adjunct faculty’s sick leave. The mistake has since been corrected.

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