Adjuncts, University seal the deal

New agreement comes after almost a year of negotiations. Our inside look at what this contract means for students and professors.

All adjunct professors will receive an increase in wages under the new agreement between AU and the adjuncts' union, Service Employee International Union Local 500.

"All adjuncts will receive at least a $100 per course increase starting in summer 2013, with a further $50 per course in fall 2014," said Anne McLeer, the director of higher education and research at SEIU Local 500. "Many of the lowest paid adjuncts will receive increases of more than that."

The agreement also established a minimum pay rate based on the number of credits for the course being taught and the adjunct's academic degrees in the field, The Eagle previously reported . AU and SEIU Local 500 finalized a two-year agreement regarding adjuncts' work conditions after almost a year of negotiations.

The agreement provides adjuncts with more job security, higher wages and better access to teaching resources, according to McLeer.

"For students this contract is very important because it improves the situation of adjuncts in a way that allows them to serve students better, and to develop as teachers and academics," she said in an email.

The agreement went into effect on June 1 after representatives from the University and SEIU Local 500 approved the document.

"[The agreement] took less than a year, which is honestly not out of the ordinary," SEIU Local 500 Communications Director Chris Honey said.

Negotiations began in May 2012 after AU adjuncts voted to unionize in February of that year, The Eagle previously reported.

More job security for adjuncts

The University will try to reassign an adjunct to another course if he or she is removed from teaching his/her current course under the "good faith consideration" of the agreement.

However, this consideration only applies under certain circumstances, including:

• The course's program or department is downsized or eliminated

• The course is to be taught by a full-time faculty member

• The course is cancelled due to under enrollment

• An adjunct with a higher rank, more professional experience or a better teaching record is available to teach the course.

Job security was one of the main reasons adjuncts chose to unionize in November 2011, The Eagle previously reported .

The contract implies an adjunct professor will not be reassigned to teach another course if she or he fails to complete professional duties, exceeds the maximum of credits permitted in previous or current years or produces unsatisfactory results based on student evaluations and observations.

The agreement also includes:

• an established three-step process for adjuncts to submit grievances to the University

• a requirement for AU to notify adjuncts of upcoming assignments in written form with a one week deadline for adjuncts to accept or deny

• access to specific services for adjuncts, such as physical space to meet with students

• the formation of a committee with representation from AU and the union to address any other issues.

School of International Service Professor William LeoGrande, who represented AU during negotiations, said he believes the changes will be more noticeable after a semester or two since the University is currently deciding how to implement the agreement. LeoGrande served on the bargaining team that wrote this agreement.

The current agreement will end Aug. 31, 2015. Negotiations for the next agreement will begin early 2015, according to LeoGrande.

The first agreements negotiated between adjuncts and University officials at George Washington University and Montgomery College each took longer, according to Honey.

"Future contracts will not be nearly as lengthy since we'll be working off the basics," Honey said.

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