Adjunct faculty reach contract agreement with Nazareth College

After more than a year of protests and negotiations, adjunct faculty members at Nazareth College have ratified their first union contact with the college administration.

While the union would not provide an exact vote, representatives of Service Employees International Union Local 200United said members ratified the contract with only a single dissenting vote. The contact, once it’s formally signed by both sides, would go into effect immediately, providing retroactive pay to the beginning of this semester. The union said the contract covers some 370 adjunct faculty.

The new contract:

  • Increases pay for most part-time, non-tenure-track faculty by about 50 percent, excepting those few already being paid at a higher rate.
  • Allows for one-year and two-year contracts rather than single semester agreements.
  • Gives adjunct faculty access to professional development funds.
  • Includes adjuncts in college life, such as departmental meetings.
  • Provides cancellation fees to the adjunct faculty member who has prepared for an upcoming course that ends up being canceled because of low registration.

“This agreement will alleviate the anxiety of adjuncts like myself who semester to semester have not been sure if we will have a contract to continue working at the college. Having longer contracts and better pay will allow us to plan for our futures and our families’ futures,” said Colleen Wolf, an adjunct music faculty member. By providing more stability for faculty, the agreement will result in better consistency and faculty availability for students, she added.

Nazareth College administration issued a statement that read: “The college values the experience and expertise that our adjunct faculty bring to the classroom and to our community every day. The agreement provides fair and competitive compensation for our part-time faculty. The agreement reflects our commitment to our adjunct faculty members as well as to ensuring the college remains fiscally responsible to our students and the future of the institution.”

[email protected]/(585) 363-7275

Nazareth adjunct faculty join union

Adjunct faculty members at Nazareth College have joined a union.

The union, Service Employees International Union, Local 200United, announced on Tuesday that a 3-to-1 majority of adjunct faculty had voted in favor of joining.

The college has 370 adjunct faculty members who were eligible to vote. 184 voted yes and 61 voted no, representing the culmination of an organizing drive that began in fall 2017.

The union statement said surveys on priorities for negotiating will be circulated soon, with hopes for contract negotiations to begin during the fall 2018 semester. SEIU represents some 60,000 faculty members nationwide.

Jeanne Coonan, a member of the union organizing committee and a Nazareth music lecturer, said low compensation was one of the motivations to unionize. “This is an opportunity to change that. Now, after winning our union, we can see a brighter future on the horizon for the adjuncts at Nazareth,” she said.

Fellow organizer and music faculty member Colleen Wolf said, “I’m looking forward to having a better dialogue with the administration. Despite the fact that we are on different sides, we are all part of the same college and want what’s best for our students. If our working conditions are better, our students will benefit. If we have more job security, it only makes the college stronger.”

The college released a statement saying “We respect their decision. Nazareth values the contributions of our part-time faculty. These talented academics and practitioners are part of the fabric of our institution and integral to fulfilling Nazareth’s educational mission. We are committed to providing a rewarding and positive work environment for our part-time faculty, along with all of our faculty and staff. “

[email protected]/(585) 363-7275

Adjunct faculty move to unionize at Nazareth College

Demonstration for adjunct faculty at Nazareth College. (Diana Louise Carter)
Demonstration for adjunct faculty at Nazareth College. (Diana Louise Carter)

Adjunct faculty at Nazareth College today filed a notice with the National Labor Relations Board that they intend to have an election to consider joining a union to represent them.

A demonstration of approximately 30 people, including adjunct faculty, full-time faculty, students and union organizers, was held just outside the center gate of the campus on East Avenue before the group walked a petition to Nazareth President Daan Braveman’s office. Braveman was out of town but provided a statement saying, in part, “Nazareth respects and supports each part-time faculty member’s right to make a personal decision about participation in union activity.”

The union under consideration is Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Local 200United.

Before the brief march, several people made statements, including Colleen Wolf, a second-year adjunct in the music department who juggles two other jobs to support herself and her two sons.

Like other faculty, Wolf said she loves teaching at Nazareth, but finds it financially straining.

“It’s very hard for me to think about my future and how I’m going to be able to continue doing this,” Wolf said. She noted that because she’s a widow, her children receive Social Security benefits that help support the family. When they turn 18, however, those benefits will cease and Wolf said she doesn’t know how she’ll make up the difference.

“I don’t think the person teaching should be the person who can afford to teach here, it should be the best teacher for the job,” she said.

Union organizers and adjunct faculty said approximately 300, or about two thirds of the faculty at Nazareth, are adjunct faculty who are paid about $2,700 to teach a three-credit course. Their pay doesn’t include office hours and there are no benefits such as health care or paid professional development.

Music professor Josh Massicot described writing a textbook on his own time – rather than during a paid sabbatical as full-time staff do – and then having to pay his own way to attend a conference to make a presentation on his work.  No matter how much recognition adjuncts may earn professionally, Massicot said, they have no job security. “We remain appointed on a semester-by-semester basis.”

Student Katie Thomas, a senior theater major, told the group she is supporting the teachers because “adjuncts have been so integral to my success here at Nazareth College. Most of my dance professors and one of my theater professors are adjuncts who have shaped me into the woman and artist I am today.”

Organizer Jake Allen said while adjunct pay is an issue at most colleges and universities that have shifted to teaching the majority of their courses with part-time staff, Nazareth is a particular focus because it pays less than other schools for adjunct teaching.

“In many cases, people can make more working even at MCC, than a school like Nazareth where students are paying $46,000 a year for the privilege of going there,” Allen said.

[email protected]/(585) 363-7275