lymouth, NH, December 14, 2013 – Earlier this morning and two years after Plymouth State University (PSU) adjunct faculty members voted to unionize, the State Employees’ Association (SEA/SEIU 1984), announced that the ‘Teaching Lecturers’ have ratified their first union contract by a 97% vote. “The path to obtain the rights necessary for empowered workers to level the playing field, as equally valuable partners in the workplace, including higher education, can be a long one that takes real commitment,” said SEA/SEIU 1984 President Diana Lacey. “We are so proud of the members’ work!”
The contract provides job stability, annual wage increases, access to health benefits and intellectual property rights over the next three years. Up until this point, the part-time faculty members were employees at will, did not have access to benefits, were not compensated well for their contributions, and were not treated respectfully. “Before we unionized, I was unable to see a career track, let alone our place at the university,” said the Teaching Lecturers Chapter President, Krisan Evenson. “’How did we fit in here?’ was a question I asked myself. As we united our community through our union, I knew we could begin making changes.”
Members of the Teaching Lecturers’ bargaining unit believe their contract will encourage the university administration to preserve teachers, help keep Lecturers out of poverty and improve the quality of public higher education. This contract is one of two recent agreements in the NH higher education community that changes the standard of living for part-time teachers. Earlier this year, SEA/NH-SEIU Local 1984 won a contract for over 1,000 adjunct faculty members that teach for the Community College System of New Hampshire (CCSNH).
“We are excited to join our colleagues who teach at CCSNH,” said Phil Inwood, Teaching Lecturer of Art at PSU. Our contract was designed to change standards for Lecturers and the university. This is the first time our voices really made a difference. “
The organization of part-time higher education faculty members is a growing trend across the nation. It is in response to years of sub-standard treatment and lack of appreciation. A 2010 survey of non-tenure-track faculty members by the Coalition on the Academic Workforce showed low median compensation rates for adjunct faculty, with little, if any, compensation based on credentials and minimal support for work or professional development outside the classroom.
Adjunct faculty now make up the majority of the higher education work force. As recently as 1969, 78 percent of instructional staff comprised tenured or tenure-track professors, with adjunct faculty making up the rest, according to information from the Pullias Center for Higher Education at the University of Southern California. By 2009, the figures had nearly flipped, with a third of faculty tenured or on the tenure track and two-thirds ineligible for tenure. Of those non-tenure-track positions, just 19 percent were full-time.
About The State Employees’ Association/ SEIU Local 1984
The State Employees’ Association of New Hampshire represents approximately 11,500 public and private-sector employees across the Granite State. First formed in 1940 as a social organization, the SEA won passage of New Hampshire’s Public Employee Labor Relations Law in 1975. Since then, the union has negotiated hundreds of contracts with state, county, municipal and private-sector employers. The SEA affiliated with the Service Employees’ International Union in 1984. With 2.1 million members, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in the Americas.