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Dec. 10, 2015

UUP praises UAlbany report on part-time/contingent faculty; Union releases its own study, recommendations

ALBANY – Frederick E. Kowal, Ph.D., president of United University Professions, said UUP looks forward to working with the University at Albany to implement recommendations in the university’s new report to improve salary and working conditions for part-time and contingent faculty.

Many of the recommendations mirror proposals in a new UUP study on UAlbany academic contingent employees.

UUP’s report, “Woven Into Its Very Fabric: A Report on Contingent Labor at the University at Albany, Survey Data and Policy Proposals,” lists 10 action items to improve working conditions for contingent faculty and the overall quality of education at UAlbany.

“We applaud UAlbany’s groundbreaking report, which shows that the university and the union share many of the same concerns,” said Kowal. “The two reports provide a cooperative pathway for UUP, and hopefully all of SUNY, to work together going forward to resolve difficulties faced by part-time and contingent faculty.”

“These reports illustrate a keen awareness on the part of the administration and the union that issues impacting part-time and contingent employees must be addressed,” said UUP Albany Chapter President Bret Benjamin. “We look forward to working with administration to implement them.”

More than half of UAlbany’s academic staff are nontenure adjunct and contingent faculty. Nationally, contingent faculty suffer with poverty-level pay, little or no job security, and poor working conditions.

In its 48-page report, compiled by the UUP Albany Chapter, the union proposes that the minimum per-course fee for part-time academic contingents increase from $2,800 to $5,700.

The report proposes a five-year plan to decrease UAlbany’s reliance on contingent faculty by increasing tenure-line faculty to 70 percent of the university’s academic workforce. Since 1995, the percentage of tenure-line faculty at UAlbany has dropped from 69.3 percent to 45.3 percent; tenure-line faculty teach just 41 percent of courses and 36.5 percent of UAlbany students, according to the UUP report.

UUP is also calling for implementation of a new “stepped system” to improve employment stability for contingents. A contingent who has worked for UAlbany for two years would automatically get a one-year contract, after four years a two-year contract, and after six years a three-year contract under the plan.

The report also recommends:

      • Assigning a minimum of two courses for academics contingents or a salary; above $14,147 for professional contingents to ensure eligibility for health care benefits;
      • Moving long-term, effective contingents into full-time positions;
      • Increasing university allocations for graduate student assistantship funding; and
      • Mitigating workload creep by compensating contingents for work beyond the scope of their appointments.

“This report makes important contributions to the national conversation on adjunct and contingent faculty in higher education,” Benjamin said.

The report is also available on the UUP Albany Chapter website.

UUP is the nation's largest higher education union, with more than 37,000 academic and professional faculty and retirees. UUP members work at 29 New York state-operated campuses, including SUNY’s public teaching hospitals and health science centers in Brooklyn, Long Island and Syracuse. It is an affiliate of NYSUT, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, and the AFL-CIO.


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