According to Kathi Ketcheson, director of Portland State’s Office of Institutional Research and Planning, there were 695 adjunct instructors teaching at PSU in Fall 2014, which is 45 percent of the instructional faculty. Adjuncts taught 31 percent of credit hours in Fall 2014 (“Adjunct Instructors Seek Stability”).
The 2013–15 contract for PSU Faculty Association, the union that represents all part-time teaching and research faculty at PSU, expires in June. In 2013, it took roughly five months beyond the expiration of the 2011–13 contract for both parties to come to an agreement and ratify the 2013-15 contract.
Contract negotiations for the 2015–17 collective bargaining agreement are set to begin toward the end of spring term.
Edward Taub, Organizing Director for PSUFA said the adjunct experience varies from department to department. “There’s no job security to begin with, and in some departments…[adjuncts are] afraid to step up,” he said.
As part of an ongoing series on adjuncts at PSU, the Vanguard is looking at what the current PSUFA contract provides for adjuncts at PSU.
Number of PSU employees represented by PSUFA
PSUFA represents all adjunct instructors and research faculty who teach less than half time, which is 22 credit hours or less per year. According to Taub, between research and instructional faculty, PSUFA represents an average of 800 employees per term.
Terms of employment
Contracts are either on a term-by-term or yearly basis. PSU may offer employment as late as five weeks before the start of term. Previous appointments do not mean adjunct instructors should expect offers of re-employment.
Adjunct instructors who complete nine academic terms at PSU are eligible for two-year contracts and to be promoted to the position of Senior Instructor.
Adjunct instructors are paid on a per-credit basis. As of Winter 2015, adjunct instructors can expect to be paid a minimum of $858 per credit. For a 4-credit class, that is $3,432. Research assistants make $20.18 per hour and research associates make $21.76 per hour.
PSU provides a health insurance fund of $175,000 in order to provide an insurance stipend to adjuncts. Adjuncts must be on payroll for the term in which they are applying. They must also apply for funds through PSUFA.
Social and economic rights
Adjuncts have access to work space, office supplies, private meeting space for office hours, full library privileges for one calendar year and support staff available to full-time members of the department. Adjuncts are protected from wage and employment discrimination based on age, disability, marital status, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or veteran status, which Taub said is standard.
There are limited funds available for adjuncts to pay for their education and professional development.
Adjuncts are also entitled to freedom of expression in the classroom, but only when discussing their specific subjects. The bargaining agreement states, “[Instructors] should be careful not to introduce into their teaching controversial matter which has no relation to the subject.” Adjuncts also have the right to publicly express their personal opinions, but they must “manifest appropriate restraint.”
Taub said PSUFA has a few goals for the upcoming negotiations, including expanding the healthcare and education funds and increasing job security.
This is part of an ongoing series on adjunct instructors at PSU. Look for coverage of upcoming negotiations throughout the term.