In spite of the times we find ourselves in, USF Adjuncts have taken a historic step towards self representation in the workplace. With uncertain enrollment and near depression-like economic conditions stacked against us, we have succeeded against the odds and reached an agreement with the administration that begins to address the issues that have impacted us as educators for far too long.
In the coming weeks we will be voting on our first contract. This historic step for USF Adjuncts is the culmination of years of organizing our coworkers, bargaining in the midst of uncertain crises, and above all believing in the principle that we are stronger when we stand together than when we are alone.
It is far from the end of this campaign for the rights of adjuncts in higher education. Still, these early steps towards progress at USF are a foundation to build on for years and decades to come. Through unity and perseverance we will continue to benefit from this union of individuals passionately committed to their coworkers, their students and the wider education community.
Below you will find some highlights of what we have accomplished together. These items are proof of our power to affect change. They are our voices and demands made real. No matter how modest our gains, they are gains nonetheless and we are proud to present them for ratification. We urge you to read them carefully and contribute to our vision of justice in the workplace through your membership and support.
- Minimum rate of $1,000 per Credit Hour / $400 per Student
No longer will each department establish a minimum rate per credit hour through fiat. Your bargaining committee has established a minimum rate for all departments at no less than $1000. This achievement sets a floor that will raise all boats in the USF Adjunct community that we intend to build on in future agreements with the administration. For adjunct faculty that are compensated on a per student basis, the minimum rate will be set at $400 per pupil. We believe this approach will impact the lowest paid among us the greatest, while putting upward pressure on pay for all adjuncts at the university. This is in line with our values of justice and unity, providing for all in our community and paying particular attention to those currently with the greatest need of securing financial stability.
- Course Cancellation Fee
No longer will we go uncompensated for our time and effort preparing classes that are abruptly cancelled. The agreement guarantees that adjuncts will receive a payment of $300 for any courses reassigned or cancelled within 10-days of their start date. This begins to address our demand that the administration value and recognize the work we do to prepare for classroom learning, and it is also the highest compensation in the State. It also discourages these last minute cancellations that can severely impact our ability to financially plan and ultimately make ends meet.
By passing our first contract we will secure an array of rights that give us a voice in the workplace like never before. Among these include a grievance procedure that establishes a systematic and transparent process to address violations of our agreement and defend the rights of union members at USF. We are also entitled to bargain the impacts of any future changes that may impact our compensation or working conditions. By ratifying this first contract, we will be entitled to a legal seat at the table in critical decisions that affect operations at the university. This includes negotiations regarding the impacts of COVID-19.
- Annual Meetings with Department Chairs
In order to provide adjuncts greater voice in their respective departments, your bargaining committee has demanded the establishment of open meetings on an annual basis with department chairs to meaningfully discuss the issues impacting us at the university. These issues include professional development opportunities, working conditions and morale, staffing concerns, and departmental finances. We believe this item will serve as an invaluable tool for adjuncts to speak loud and clear within their departments and across the university. It also provides an additional venue to address concerns of greatest importance outside the bargaining process with USF administration.
- Adjunct Pools
As so many of us struggle to make ends meet given the uncertainty of course loads from semester to semester, your bargaining committee has reached agreement on the creation of adjunct pools to ensure those currently teaching receive consideration for new course openings. We believe this “pool” will begin to lay the foundation upon which we can build increased job security into future agreements by strengthening the seniority of those currently teaching. This item is central to the demands of adjuncts across the university who desire more stability in their course loads from semester to semester. It also makes clear our intention to further this goal in subsequent talks with the administration.
Regular performance evaluations are critical to professional development in higher education. With that in mind, we have successfully bargained to ensure all adjuncts are entitled to annual evaluations that provide a fair and transparent process for assessing and awarding excellence in the classroom. These evaluations serve to distinguish the service we provide our students and are to be based on student evaluations, syllabi, course grade distributions, and other materials deemed relevant to the adjuncts teaching assignments.