Part-time instructors create union

This school year, part time instructors have a stronger voice due to a union recognized in August to help promote more equal rights for adjuncts. The UCC Part Time Faculty Association is now recognized by the Oregon Employee Relations Board.

“Part-timers decided to band together to have representation to be more recognized on campus for contributions. We really are a part of the community college experience, teaching a majority of classes. We are professionals and really wanted to show that part timers are a part of this campus in an important way,” said Jenny Friedman, the association’s new president.

Jenny Friedman

UCC Part-time Faculty Association president is Jenny Friedman.

The union, under the direction of Friedman and Vice President Kelly Wyatt, is hoping to establish more formal procedures for part-timers’ workload and termination rights. They are in the process right now of working out details.

 “The idea of having a voice for adjunct faculty is really nice because, up until now, we didn’t really have a voice to ask the questions and voice concerns that we have. Not just regarding pay or stability of the job, but different issues involving supporting students as well,” said  Sandee McGee, a part-time art instructor.

Part-time instructors in schools throughout the US have been joining together in unions to increase recognition that they are professionals who should be recognized for their contributions. Part-time UCC teachers teach a large majority of the classes on campus.

One goal of the union is to work with the UCC administration to bring their work environment into alignment with the part-time faculties’ status as professionals and also get closer to what other community colleges are paying their part-timers.

The part-time teachers are also looking for job stability. Now, they are given ten week contracts and are never sure that they will be working the following term.

Many part-time teachers would also like the possibility of receiving benefits because, as part-time art instructor Renee Couture explained, students are not the only ones who cannot afford doctor visits.

The concerns of this union are not UCC specific. Part-time teachers nationwide are dealing with these same struggles.

 At this time, administration is being very accepting and open to the union. Jan Baxter, UCC human resources director, says she is looking forward to working with the part-time faculty association as a union can make for a more structured environment. She also says, “I feel as though there was already a good working relationship regardless if they are unionized or not.”

The union is supported by the Oregon Education Association. The OEA has given support and training so far to get the union organized.

In January of 2012, the US Department of Education gave several recommendations to improve student transitions to and through community colleges. One of their recommendations was to build office time and other forms of campus involvement into the lives of adjunct faculty to develop closer relationships with students and the institutions.

The Mainstream is a student publication of Umpqua Community College.