Friday, December 07, 2012

Putting Part-Time Concerns Front and Center

Yeah, yeah, it's been about a year.  Lots going on, no time to share it--the usual deal that comes with being involved with governance and union matters at the same time.

Anyway, this just appeared in the Fredonia UUP Chapter newsletter.  Even though the Labor-Management Meeting I mention below had to be cancelled due to a family emergency, I remain optimistic about the progress we're making.


About 15 months ago, I ran for Part-Time Concerns Officer for our chapter because I wanted to find out if leaders from labor and management at SUNY Fredonia could work together to identity specific problems and opportunities facing Fredonia’s hard-working contingent faculty and professionals and formally address them through our normal processes of negotiation, consultation, planning, and administration.  Could we generate practical ideas and imaginative solutions that would work for our campus and our members?  As we approach the home stretch for the fall semester, I’m happy to report that we’re making significant progress.

First a note on process.  In the initial months after my election to PTCO, I sought the input of a diverse group of campus leaders--including Tara Singer-Blumberg, Chiara De Santi, Robert Deemer, Idalia Torres, Ziya Arnavut, Kathleen Gradel, Julia Wilson, Timothy Allan, and Mary Cobb--who helped me develop and revise a set of questions aimed at enabling local UUP and administrative leaders to explore what could and should be done to improve terms and conditions of employment, university policies, campus climate, and departmental cultures for contingent academic and professional workers at SUNY Fredonia.  Building on an initial Labor-Management Meeting with then-President Hefner and his cabinet in April, the chapter team has had productive and encouraging discussions in our September and November Labor-Management Meetings with President Horvath, Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Kevin Kearns, and Director of Human Resources Michael Daley.  I’ve been impressed with the energy and seriousness with which all involved have approached our common challenges.  And I’m looking forward to our next meeting in early December.

So where are we making the most progress?  I can report that we’re actively working on

  • developing a clear, consistent, and fair compensation scale for extra service by our contingent colleagues;
  • developing a clear, consistent, straightforward model for calculating FTE for part-time faculty and professionals that’s easy to understand and to use for everyone;
  • examining titles and criteria for qualified academic ranks available to contingent faculty and considering ways of regularizing them;
  • examining the efficacy of official lines of communication with our contingent colleagues and developing ways to enhance it;
  • exploring ways of better integrating and welcoming our contingent colleagues into departments and units.

Going forward, I’m working with UUP’s Vice President for Academics Jamie Dangler and members of UUP’s Contingent Employment Committee to collect local agreements from other SUNY campuses that might provide insights into best practices and possible models for us.  I’ve joined the Faculty and Professional Affairs Committee’s Adjunct and Contingent Faculty Subcommittee as an ex officio member to gain a better perspective on our own membership’s needs and interests.  And I’m working with our chapter’s Executive Board to form a Contingent Employment Advisory Group so that we may get specific input and feedback on our strategies and tactics in the months to come.  Thanks to everyone who’s already volunteered!  There’s still time to let me know if you’re interested in working with us.  Please feel free to contact me at

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