Part-time Montgomery College faculty seek higher pay -- Gazette.Net


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Part-time faculty at Montgomery College have a mantra — equal pay for equal work, Peter Feiden says.

Feiden, an adjunct faculty member, other part-time faculty at the community college and leaders of the union that represents the college’s part-time faculty will try to make their case this winter that they receive less pay than full-time professors when performing the same duties.

“We think that the disparity is so great that it ultimately compromises the capacity of Montgomery College to deliver quality education,” Feiden said.

Representatives from the college and the union, Service Employees International Union Local 500, met for the first time two weeks ago to reopen their contract and discuss part-time faculty pay, college spokeswoman Elizabeth Homan said. The negotiations would affect pay as of July 1, 2014, when a new contract will be in place.

The two groups did not come to a consensus on the issue in a work group last spring, Local 500 spokesman Christopher Honey said.

“We agreed to disagree,” Honey said.

Homan said, because the college is currently in negotiations, it is inappropriate to talk about the college’s stance on the issue.

Depending on their experience, Montgomery College full-time faculty members made, generally, between $58,400 to $85,800 last school year, according to data from the American Association of University Professors, the national union for full-time college faculty.

Regardless of their job classifications, Montgomery County faculty members rank at least 16th in salaries among 162 community colleges nationwide, according to a searchable database created by The Chronicle of Higher Education of the association’s data.

A part-time Montgomery College faculty member makes $870.83 to $947.66 per credit hour per semester this year, depending on their experience, Homan said.

That is the highest part-time pay compared to the 15 other community colleges in the state, Homan said. Other colleges in the state pay part-time faculty between $650 to $900 per credit hour per semester, she said.

There are differences between the qualifications and requirements for full-time and part-time faculty, Homan said. Full-time faculty must teach a broader range of courses, and therefore must be qualified to do so, and they must commit to more time outside of the classroom, she said.

While full-time professors may have more administrative and research duties than part-time faculty, Honey said that when you break the salary down to look at the work that both full-time and part-time faculty perform, part-time faculty get paid less for their duties.

Feiden, who teaches economics at the college’s Takoma Park campus, used his own estimates and assumptions of Montgomery College’s pay scale earlier this year to break down the pay and look at pay per semester hour for faculty who teach summer courses. The union published his findings on its website last week.

Feiden reported that part-time Adjunct I faculty make 47.1 percent of what full-time faculty make per semester hour for the same work — $912 compared to $1,935.

When asked if the college agreed with the data, Homan repeated that it is inappropriate for the college to comment on compensation while in negotiations.

Nationwide, part-time faculty are fighting for fairness in compensation and benefits, said John W. Curtis, director of research and public policy at the American Association of University Professors.

“Part-time faculty members especially are in a position where their pay is very low, they usually don’t receive benefits and have virtually no job security,” Curtis said. “If you put all of those things together you have a picture of hardworking employees who are dedicated to what they do, but don’t get support from institutions as wells as they could.”

It has been the association’s argument for decades that these employees should receive tenure or other forms of protection — it is an issue of academic freedom, Curtis said.

The issue is becoming more apparent as colleges nationwide begin to rely more on part-time faculty to save money, he said.

Part-time faculty made up 41.1 percent of all college faculty staff nationwide in 2009, compared to 33.2 percent in 1995, according to data that Curtis compiled from the U.S. Department of Education.

About 69.7 percent of all faculty at two-year colleges nationwide were part-time in 2009, according to the data. At Montgomery College, part-time faculty teach about half of courses offered, Feiden said.

It’s a long-standing, nationwide practice to pay part-time faculty less, Feiden said.

Joining with a union is one way to make strides on this issue, Curtis said.

Montgomery College first recognized SEIU as the exclusive bargaining representation of part-time faculty in 2008, Homan said. It was the first time a college in the state recognized a part-time labor union, she said.

Since, two agreements have been negotiated and the union has made incremental gains, Honey said. In negotiations for fiscal 2012, part-time faculty members received a one-time payment equal to 2 percent of the contracted pay per credit hour, paid leave was improved, employees were made eligible for a wellness program and it was agreed that the college would provide “good faith considerations” for course assignments.

Homan said the college values all of its union partners, and the college is committed to ensuring student success.

Getting fair pay for employees will take time, Honey said. Local 500 plans to partner with part-time faculty throughout the D.C. region to provide support and advocacy, he said.

“We are committed to achieving it,” Feiden said. “We know it is not something that will happen over night.”

jbondeson@gazette.net