Rutgers Part-Time Lecturers Working Without A Contract
By Laura Curry
Part-time lecturers at Rutgers University, who are working without a contract, carried out a contract campaign action outside of Winants Hall on College Ave. campus at the Board of Governors meeting on Oct. 14.
The union representing PTLs, the American Association of University Professors-American Federation of Teachers was denied by the board’s chairs for the opportunity to speak at the meeting. Additionally, four students supporting the cause were escorted out for interrupting the meeting.
Outside of Winants Hall, faculty members and students alike chanted for higher wages for part-time lecturers and held posters included messages such as “What’s Outrageous? Adjunct Wages!” and “Part-time lecturers do full-time work.”
The AAUP-AFT is asking for a professional salary, access to healthcare coverage, facilities to hold office hours and access to resources for professional development.
About 1,500 Part-Time Lecturers teach at the university and are responsible for about least 30-percent of undergraduate instruction, according to Politano.
Fractional appointments would pay a part-time lecturer at least one eighth of what a full-time, non-tenure-track instructor makes. In figures, this equates to $6,250 for the 2016-2017 year.
“We want the university to recognize that PTL’s are doing the same job as full-timers, but just working less hours. We want a fraction of what full-timers make,” said Teresa Politano, the President of the Part-Time Lecturer Faculty Chapter.
Administration agreed to a 2 percent increase in salary, which is $100 more per year. Part-time lecturers find this offer unacceptable, Politano said.
While part-time lecturers are not asking for full benefits, they would like to find a creative solution such as a wellness fund that makes partial healthcare coverage available to part-time lecturers, Politano said.
In addition, most part-time lecturers have no access to facilities to hold office hours, and they would like this nomadic approach to change, Politano said.
They are also demanding access to resources, which refers to an increase in funds to support professional development activities such as research projects and field studies.
Part-time lecturers, or adjunct professors, are employees hired to teach either a full course, including labs, for one whole semester, a recitation section for an entire semester or two consecutive seven-week courses in a semester, which is stated in the Rutgers Academic Appointments Manual.
“The overwhelming majority of adjuncts are over-qualified, and they have terminal degrees, yet they’re getting paid $4,800 a class. That’s the real scandal,” said AAUP-AFT Project Organizer Joe Richard on Sep. 15 during a contract campaign meeting on Douglass campus.
A terminal degree refers to the highest academic degree given in a field of study. In most fields, this means a doctorate or Ph.D.
Additionally, the Rutgers AAUP-AFT website states that PTL’s are not paid for outside-the-classroom work such as academic advising, holding office hours, or writing letters of recommendation.
“In many departments, the duties and responsibilities of part-time lecturers are the same as those of full-time non-tenure-track teaching faculty,” which is stated on the AAUP-AFT website.
Richard explained that part-time lecturers lack the benefit of tenure and have no job security.
“A long time ago, when people did not have tenure and they said something unpopular in the classroom, they could be fired or disciplined. The idea is that you create a system where people have job security—the expectation that they’ll continue to work so that they have the academic freedom to pursue knowledge in whatever direction it takes them. Increasingly, that’s changed,” said Richard.
The union is also concerned with the PTLs’ job security because of alleged interference in academic affairs by football coach Kyle Flood.
“There’s a political aspect to this as well, where the football scandal that’s developing right now is looking bad for the university, and we’ve been considering it an ongoing labor issue,” Richard said.
The AAUP-AFT’s Sept. 9 resolution called for an investigation of Coach Kyle Flood’s contact with a part-time lecturer regarding a football player’s failing grade. This investigation, which concluded on Sept. 16, resulted in Flood’s three-game suspension and a $50,000 fine.
The AAUP-AFT welcomed President Barchi’s affirmation of the academic integrity to ensure that faculty members are free of intimidation and interference by outside parties, according to union president, Hughes’ latest report.
“The freedom for faculty members to assess student’s work without external pressure is an essential component of academic freedom,” according to the resolution.
As of Sept. 9 the Executive Council resolved that Full-Time faculty members are able to support Part-Time Lecturers in their fight for respect.
Anna Barcy, a graduate student and new organizer for the AAUP-AFT, attended the meeting on Sept. 15. She discussed the unique role that students can play in fighting for the respect of part-time lecturers.
“As tuition-paying students, they’re able to knock on his (President Barchi’s) door for as long as it takes for him to give a meaningful response to part-time lecturers,” Barcy said.