After nine months of negotiations that included protests and labor complaints, the University’s administration and the USF Part-Time Faculty Association (PTFA) announced on Friday, April 8, they had reached a tentative agreement.
The two sides agreed on a tentative three-year contract that provides adjunct faculty a base-salary increase and greater eligibility for the preferred hiring pool (PHP) system. PHP status gives adjunct professors better job security and seniority.
The agreement came together last week after several meetings, which included an April 5 session with a federal labor mediator, and by day’s end, both camps were closer to a deal than ever before, according to PTFA President Jill Schepmann. On the night of April 7, after a flurry of talks between the PTFA and USF’s labor negotiating team led by David Philpott, head of labor and employee relations, both sides came to a compromise.
Schepmann described the framework as the “best possible deal” for both parties, especially when the University initially proposed cuts to their salary and benefits. The administration eventually dropped this proposal last fall.
In the tentative agreement, adjunct faculty members will receive a “2.75% across-the-board raise to [our] base pay,” starting in the spring of 2023, according to PTFA. There will be an additional increase in pay during spring 2024, depending on each member’s non-PHP or PHP status.
The deal also included an increase in “minimum hourly rates for non-teaching assignments,” a decrease in health insurance premiums of a total of $25 by January 2024, and a more accessible criteria for PHP eligibility, including keeping the current process for first-time applicants instead of the University-proposed changes.
Michael Hammond, PTFA’s current secretary and incoming president for next year, said that the “pace of bargaining picked up, after [we] returned on March 17.” While the rest of campus was on spring break at this time, Hammond added, “I think both sides had a new attitude and were clearly committed in trying to reach a deal where we both could live with. The sessions felt more productive after that.”
This was confirmed by the University. In an email to the Foghorn, University spokesperson Kellie Samson said, “The University and PTFA leadership teams resumed negotiations on March 17 after a cooling-off period and came to a tentative agreement on April 7.”
For their part, PTFA leadership attributes the change in attitude toward negotiations to the public pressure they had brought. “I think our action on campus and just raising awareness on our issues had something to do with it. The unfair labor practice contributed to the pressure,” Schepmann said.
As the Foghorn reported in February, PTFA filed an unfair labor complaint against the administration for allegedly refusing to “bargain economic contract articles,” which paused the negotiations then.
The University would not provide further comment beyond the following statement. “We’re looking forward to next steps, which include a ratification vote by the PTFA by the end of the month. After the vote, we’ll take your questions on the new collective bargaining agreement.”
On April 14, PTFA will have a “vital meeting” with members to discuss the details of the contract. The agreement remains tentative until it is voted on and ratified by PTFA members. Schepmann and Hammond hope to have a vote by next week and said their team has “great optimism” that the members will ratify the agreement.
It should be noted that if the union does vote and ratify the agreement by April 20, there will be a one-time payment for adjunct faculty teaching this semester and a $150 one-time payment for those that only taught in fall 2021.
The University is set to bargain soon with other labor unions on campus such as OPEIU Local 29, the group representing program assistants and other professional staff at USF.
Miguel Arcayena is a senior politics major and the Foghorn’s news editor. He covers campus breaking news and administrative issues. He can be reached at email@example.com.