California Part-time Faculty Association Endorses the following Vision
The One-Tier Model of Faculty Employment
Context: The College for All Act of 2021, has been heralded as “the most substantial federal investment in higher education in modern American history”. Free tuition for students appears to be a great improvement, but if we blindly accept C4A as it is written, we will be missing a once-in-a-generation opportunity to abolish the cancer of inequity that lies at the heart of our two-tiered higher education employment system. When it comes to students, college is a one-tier system: they register, pay fees as required, show up, follow their professors, do the work, and prepare for their life’s work. However, higher education is a two-tier system when it comes to the faculty. The non-tenured lower-tier faculty have the same responsibilities relative to their students, but they’re not paid equitably and fairly, have little to no security of employment or benefits, and are treated as temporary employees indefinitely.
Therefore, we propose the Program for Change as an alternative: pay everyone equitably, with benefits, and with a measure of job security, and in so doing, effectively dismantle the current discriminatory two-tier system.
In the last fifty years, all of academe has adopted the two-tier model of employment for college professors. Those of the tenure-track upper tier are well-paid, with strong benefits, and are eligible for lifetime job security in the form of tenure. Those who teach off the tenure-track, however, often have poverty wages, few or no benefits, and lack job security to protect their academic freedom.
The College for All Act defines the faculty labor problem as the decreasing number of tenured professors and the solution as creating more full-time tenure-track professors.
But this is neither the correct diagnosis nor the proper remedy. The problem is the systematic exploitation of contingent professors.
The prospect of more new tenure-track positions makes supporting the College for All Act irresistible for many contingent instructors: within five years of enactment, 75 percent of the instruction is to be delivered by tenured or tenure-track instruction and current non-tenured instructors shall be granted “priority” to fill those new teaching positions.
But mathematically only a small portion of current contingent instructors will be offered new tenure-track jobs. Under the College for All Act, the remaining 25 percent of the courses will continue to be taught by non-tenure-track instructors, while the new tenure-track positions will be created by taking courses and income from current contingent instructors.
From the standpoint of faculty labor, the College for All Act runs counter to the egalitarian values that offer students widening access and opportunity.
An alternative that benefits all faculty is the single tier vision of the Program for Change based on the “Vancouver Model.”
- Work Status. The differences between full-time and part-time are not the main determinant of status. The main determinant is “probationary” versus “regular” (tenured) status, who hereafter are referred to as “term” and “regular”.
- Job Security. Within their hiring area, regulars have a continuing right to work up to full time. Terms have a right of first refusal by seniority on subsequent appointments within their hiring area. A regular’s right to work trumps a term’s. Terms are not reappointed if work is not available but maintain their right of first refusal for two years after their last appointment. Regulars can only be laid-off through contract provisions that include rationales, notice, right of transfers, severance and recall rights.
- Conversion. Terms who maintain at least half-time for a set time within any two years period automatically become regulars. This automatic conversion of the person (regularization) is dependent on not receiving an unsuccessful evaluation. Regulars can have any time-status between part-time and full-time. From the institution’s point of view, the cost of “regularized faculty” does not differ significantly from that of “term faculty”.
- Pay Equality. A single multi-step salary schedule that encompasses all faculty, including part-time faculty. Pay is completely pro-rata depending on workload, not status. A half-time term and a half-time regular on the same salary step can make the same salary.
- Workload. Each department derives an approved workload profile for its faculty with portions of “contact” and “non-contact” activities. For example, it may have 16 hours of classes per week and 9 hours of meetings/office hours. That workload profile is applied in a pro-rata way to all faculty in the department whether term or regular, full-time or part-time. All are expected to do service within the non-contact portion of their workload.
- Seniority Rights. Workload assignments are determined predominantly, but not solely, by length of service and encompasses all faculty, both term and regular.
- Benefits. Half-time status is the trigger for extended medical or dental benefit coverage, whether term or regular. Those below half-time may either receive a percentage payment in lieu of coverage or a shared premium package.
- Professional Development. Part-time status is also the trigger for professional development time and funding eligibility, whether term or regular.
- Departmental/Union Membership. All faculty have voting rights within their departments, senates and unions.
- Rights to Due Process. All faculty have full protection through collective agreement provisions for grievance representation and due process.
- No Workload Caps. Term and regular faculty may work up to 100 percent of full-time.
- Overloads. Full-time term and regular faculty may not work over 100 percent of a full-time load, except in specified emergency situations and will be paid only in comp time.
- Tenure. Due process is granted after a period of probation and is retained for both term and regular faculty, but becomes disassociated from compensation.
The Program for Change model enables all faculty to have adequate compensation, job security, a pathway for advancement, and a career; its benefits are not limited to those who are tenured. It is based on egalitarian values, providing all instructional personnel a pathway to permanent, regular status, unlike the caste-like separation between the upper tenured and lower non-tenured tiers.
If you want further information or would like to add your name to support this proposal, please email, Alexis Moore.