UMASS-LOWELL, ADJUNCT FACULTY REACH TENTATIVE CONTRACT DEAL
By Michael P. Norton
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, OCT. 29, 2018......After working without a contract for nearly three years, adjunct faculty members at UMass Lowell have a tentative three-year deal in place that features raises totaling between 18.1 percent and 19.3 percent and other benefits for senior adjunct faculty.
According to the UMass Lowell Union of Adjunct Faculty, the union expects to ratify the tentative contract on Nov. 13-14. About 500 adjunct faculty members at the Lowell campus are affected by the deal, the union said.
"We are very proud of the fight we waged to obtain justice for the faculty and students at UMass Lowell," Ellen Martins, president of the union, said in a statement Monday. "The gains made in this contract will improve working conditions for our members and in turn learning conditions for UML students, which is always our members' top priority."
The contract, which runs Jan. 1, 2019 through Dec. 31, 2021, also features a 10 percent bump, on top of the base pay increase, for senior adjunct faculty; shortens the time it takes to gain senior adjunct faculty status; and makes senior adjunct faculty eligible for state employee retirement benefits.
UMass-Lowell officials say the wage increases in the deal reflect that there has been no contract in place dating back to 2015.
"UMass Lowell is pleased to have reached a tentative three-year agreement with UML adjunct faculty union leadership and we are hopeful its members will vote to ratify in the days ahead," said Jon Strunk, a UMass Lowell spokesman. "The tentative agreement is in line with various off-the-record proposals made by the university during the mediation and fact-finding processes. It includes wage increases and offers healthcare and retirement benefits to those senior adjunct faculty who work more than half time, which is consistent with state law regarding GIC-benefit eligibility."
The agreement was reached about two weeks before a scheduled appearance at UMass Lowell by Opraph Winfrey. Adjunct professors were planning to hold a rally outside her Nov. 15 appearance at the Tsongas Arena and planning to publish an op-ed in national newspapers asking Winfrey intervene in the labor dispute.
Union officials said the contract agreement was reached in the early morning hours of Tuesday, Oct. 23. They said it was not announced until Monday because the union was looking to ensure that agreements that were reached verbally were reflected in the proposed contract.
Adjunct faculty at UMass Lowell launched an ad campaign in June targeting UMass President Marty Meehan, the former chancellor at the Lowell campus, asserting they've been denied access to health insurance and retirement benefits and not treated as equitably as adjunct professors at other UMass campuses. At a UMass Board meeting in Lowell in September, adjunct faculty protested their working conditions and directly confronted Meehan.
UMass Lowell officials said in June that the union had rejected multiple contract offers featuring pay increases and options for health care coverage, and Meehan has said adjunct faculty contract negotiations occur directly between campus officials and their bargaining units.
On Monday, the union said the negotiated contract featured access to health care benefits for senior adjunct faculty and the defeat of attempts by the university to "take away adjunct faculty's control of their own syllabus and textbook selection and attempts by the University to significantly raise parking fees paid by adjunct professors commuting to campus."
Under the new contract, adjunct faculty can become eligible for senior status after four years of consecutive services, teaching two to three courses per year, or by teaching 12 courses on a seven-year rolling basis. Alternatively, senior status can be achieved after five years of consecutive service, teaching two to three courses per year, or by teaching ten courses on a seven-year rolling basis.
Adjunct faculty were represented in negotiations by Ellen Martins, Jim Moran, Teresa George and Robert Talbot, according to the union, while UMass Lowell was represented by Michael Rutherford, Hilary Clark and, more recently, Lauren Turner.
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